Finding Our Greatest Joy

     We know something is not right.  Our hearts ache.  We need something to fulfill us, but we struggle to understand what that is.  We try a hundred counterfeits to satisfy this deep soul longing. 
We think the answer could be wealth.  Wealth seems to answer for a moment, but we are always left wanting more.  We try the acclaim of other people.  We bask in the praise of other men, but despair when left in the shadows.  We wonder if "I were to work on myself, then that would put all the pieces together".  However, that better person we are trying to be, is always just one step ahead of us.  The person we would like to be never matches who we really are when we are all alone.  We look to others.  Perhaps romantic love is what will finally satisfy the soul.  Lovers always fail us in some way.  Lovers are never able to satisfy that longing deep in our souls.  Food, alcohol, leisure.  We try all these and only find we are emptier than when we started. 
     We all cope with this longing in different ways.  Some us try to numb ourselves to the ache.  It doesn't go away.  It always remain, but by numbing it, we don't have to feel it.  We can forget for a moment.  If we begin to feel it again, we can have more sex, drink more alcohol, use more drugs, eat more food.  We each have our own specific agent we employ to numb the ache.  Many of the things that we use to numb our hearts are not necessarily wrong or evil, but these things were never meant to be ultimate.  They will never be able to fill our hearts.  To believe that they would ever be able to, is a lie that only leaves us feel more heartbroken than when we began.
     Another way we cope with this dilemma is despair.  We conclude that our hearts will never be satisfied.  We despair of the meaninglessness of life and this deep unfulfilled longing.  This would certainly be a miserable way to live life.  Perhaps we all live in some sort of combination of these two approaches to life.  We despair at the meaninglessness of life, and when it is too much we numb our pain with whatever has helped us in the past. 
     There is a third way.  If there is a longing that nothing in this world can fulfill, then it would seem that it points to something beyond this world.  I think C.S. Lewis said something like that before.  What if we are created by and for God?  Many of the counterfeits that seem for a instant to ease the ache in our hearts are actually whispers of God.  The pleasure of a romantic relationship is meant to point beyond itself to our Creator.  The joy of children is meant to drive us to our Creator.  If we are Created for God, then our identity must start there.  Our hearts ache because they long to be caught up into all that they were made for.  Created to glorify God, our hearts will never be truly satisfied until we are absorbed into worship of our Creator.  When we realize that our greatest joy is found in God, then many of the things we used as counterfeits, they now drive us to greater and greater joy.  When what was meant to be a good gift from God, is used the way it was meant to be, then we receive the greatest satisfaction out of those good gifts.  The pleasure of the moment no longer terminates in that moment, but it pushes past the moment into greater and greater praise of God.  We are filled with praise for the God that has give us such good gifts. 
     When you think about it, many sins can be reduced to only one.  What are we most guilty of?  Idolatry!  The sin of slothfulness is when God's good gift of leisure becomes a god to us.  The sin of lust is when God's good gift of sexual intimacy becomes a god to us.  The sin of pride is when we become god's to ourselves.  When we take God's good gift of food and drink and allow them to become god's to us, then we become gluttons.  When we make ultimate, what God meant to point our hearts to himself, then those things become idols.
     Aren't you tired of coming up empty?  Don't you want to find your fill?  Wouldn't you like to find the answer to that ache you have in your heart?

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 55:1-3  


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