A few years ago, I wrote a post called “Longing, beyond” in which I expressed the feelings that were gnawing at me, and that I still come back to at times. The insatiable desires within seem to point to something beyond ourselves, beyond the capability of this world to satisfy.
Not the least of these desires is justice, and mercy for my world and my family. At my low points, I fight despair about the culture that my innocent kids are being raised into, seeming inevitable and irreversible downward moral slide of man. Politics, economics, immorality. I can’t very well barricade my family in to keep the bad world out. Can I? Should I? I feel angry and impotent. I am weary when I fall into bed, and I can stuff down the ache for a while, long enough to fall asleep. In the morning, yes, I will feel better, but it is like a ratchet effect; “better” is only somewhat better. It’s like a new low-tide level, higher than the last wave’s recession.
The original post ended with a lukewarm affirmation that I hold to Christianity, if for no other reason than, what other, better, path is there? John 6:67-68 “So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life'”
In the intervening time since I wrote this, I have thought and fought with this despair. I believe that the problem, then, is twofold: an emotional (and surely understandable) response to injustices for which my short view cries out against, and an insufficient trust in God, who does have the long view, whose justice and mercy are perfect and in whom the longings inside me are fulfilled.
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.
Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 18:14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
“When the real want for I Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality…”
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.’ ” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory