My new book, Blessed Are the Unsatisfied, makes a counter-intuitive, counter-cultural claim: when we embrace our lack of satisfaction in this life, rather than try to deny or overcome it, God blesses us. And he blesses us not just in spite of the lack of fulfillment in our lives, but also in and through our unsatisfaction.
At first glance, this might seem like a joke or a churchy kind of logical stretch designed to make us feel better about our lives. But it’s actually a concept we can find throughout the Bible, reflected in the writings and experiences of people from prophets to kings to Paul, to Jesus himself. And it’s an idea we can experience for ourselves when we exercise the courage required to let go of our battle for complete fulfillment in this life.
For a fuller treatment of this subject, you’ll need to read my book. But in the meantime, here’s a glimpse at 10 ways God makes our lack of satisfaction a blessing in our lives:
1. The blessing of need–Our unsatisfying lives remind us that we need God. And as much as we might wish for the contrary, we do not stop needing him when we know him. Most of us need this reminder.
2. The blessing of honesty–Once we accept and acknowledge that our lives will not be fully satisfying on this earth, we can let go of the pretense that keeps many of us living in hypocrisy. There’s no reason to settle for what we have now or pretend it’s enough for us.
3. The blessing of perspective–When we are aware of our lack of satisfaction, we can capture a glimpse of how God sees the world. God knows how desperate we are and how inadequate our comforts are in meeting the needs of our hearts and souls. When we long for more, we are likely to keep looking up and to the hope of heaven.
4. The blessing of change in priorities–When we recognize we aren’t–and won’t be–fully satisfied in this life, we can let go of the chase of something we won’t find. Instead of putting our own comfort and satisfaction at the top of the list, we can live for something more rewarding, something we can actually achieve.
5. The blessing of God’s heartbeat–When we acknowledge we want and need a better life, we find ourselves in agreement with God. God wants a better life for every single one of us–the life we were all made for. Jesus has made the way for us all to be restored, and he wants us to long for it.
6. The blessing of focus–When we assume we can find a completely satisfying experience, we are likely to go looking for it in the latest methodology, product, relationship, or worship service. We become easily distracted and even tempted by the proposed solutions around us. By contrast, accepting our unsatisfaction can keep us focused on our real reason for hope–Jesus.
7. The blessing of company–When we are convinced we have all we need, we are unlikely to turn to each other. But when we feel our lack of satisfaction, we are driven to reach out for each other and find friends for the journey.
8. The blessing of growth–Satisfied people aren’t motivated to improve, learn, or transform. But when we’re unsatisfied, we’re open to change and growth because we aren’t attached to the way we are. God uses that openness to make us more like the people he created us to be.
9. The blessing of vision–When we are unsatisfied with the world we inhabit, we want it to be better. We are far more likely to envision how things could be, and we are motivated to pursue that vision.
10. The blessing of anticipation–Our lack of satisfaction fuels our appetite for what is to come, like the promise of a feast when we’re hungry. Staying in touch with our yearning for satisfaction can help point us forward toward what God has planned.
Don’t get me wrong–our lack of satisfaction is not a God-given gift; it’s a tragic result of our rebellion against our Creator. Yet in his sovereign power, infinite wisdom, and unstoppable grace, God uses even curses to bless us. So consider yourself blessed, and embrace the spiritual freedom that comes through living an unsatisfying life in the shadow of eternal hope.
© 2018 Amy Simpson.