See Luminosity

July and the Fulfiller of Desires

July and the Fulfiller of Desires

I hate July.

July 31st was the day Dominic was born – the child I lost. Today, July 17th, was the day my most recent baby was supposed to be born – the one I lost in miscarriage.

Instead of giving birth to the child for which I have longed, I am relegating the baby stuff from the garage (where it has been stored in hopes of imminent usage) to the basement. No doubt, there is something morbidly poetic about that.

So July? Yeah, July is kinda like the month of the children I don’t have. I’m not quite sure how DD1, whose birthday is on the 26th, somehow escaped the onslaught unscathed.

Of course, this month we’ve also gotten to watch the horrific video of a top Planned Parenthood executive casually talk, over lunch and wine, about harvesting body parts from the babies they kill in order to sell them. In the turmoil of my own personal baby death issues, this month, I’ve also gotten to be privy to people I know defending this organization – the group that has so little respect for the life I so desperately want that they not only murder tiny children, but try to do so CAREFULLY so they can use their PARTS.

It makes me alternate between wanting to throw up and wanting to perform some adult abortion.

Nefarious desire notwsithstanding, I have to find a way to live, in this distorted, broken world, with all of its suffering, and all of my suffering, without curling up into a metaphorical ball and never coming out of it. I have to be able to find joy amidst the pain, to mine life from the constant spectre of death, and to redeem goodness out of horror so that I can continue to find meaning and purpose.

After all, I’ve supposedly still got a good bit of time left here on this earth.

The Great Equalizer

It hurts. Not having my children hurts. Hearing people defend a woman’s “right to choose” to kill another human being, and then sell her parts, hurts. But I remember that there is something that unites me with every one of those who advocate for everything I believe is fundamentally wrong:

Pain.

It’s the great equalizer. Christian or non-Christian, conservative or liberal, white or black, straight or gay, American or Iranian, we will all experience pain. No one is immune, in this life. And no matter how much people deny or distort truth, no matter what theories the world puts forth as the way to be rid of the pain – everyone will suffer. Pain is the ultimate champion of equal rights.

But I have learned something important from my own pain and loss – something that helps to connect me both to those who seem to be on the opposite side of everything that is good and right, and to a larger hope within the suffering:

Pain is, at its source, the result of unfulfilled desire.

Unfulfilled Desire

Let me explain what this means, first, and then why it has changed my outlook. We experience suffering because we desire something that we do not attain: love, security, peace, joy, belonging, pleasure, companionship, identity, worth. When we do not find it, pain is the result. I feel pain because I do not have the babies that I want. A man finds solace in alcohol because he cannot find the sense of self he needs. A woman seeks an abortion because she feels her pregnancy will prevent her from having the financial or relational well-being she needs. Our pain arises from unfulfilled desires.

But God made us with those desires. He wants us to experience the essence of love, security, peace, belonging, pleasure, companionship, usefulness, and identity. He created us to want and need and desire.

The problem is that He made us to be able to find those things in Him – and we cannot find them anywhere else, because those qualities are the essence of who He is.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; faithful love and truth go before You.” Psalm 89:14

““I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” John 15:5

“He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them.” Psalm 145:19

Suffering is the great equalizer for all people; we will never escape pain, never truly find fulfillment in this life. We can experience traces of fulfillment. We can see glimpses, through a mirror darkly (1 Cor. 13:12), of what fulfilled desires will mean – and when we do, we want those moments to continue on forever. We erroneously assume, when we get a taste of that fulfillment, that it came from something in this life, so we seek whatever we think caused it over and over again.

“I’ll find fulfillment when I find the right partner.” “I’ll find fulfillment when I get the next job.” I’ll find fulfillment when my health is restored.” “I’ll find fulfillment when I am no longer struggling financially.” “I’ll find fulfillment when my ruptured relationship is repaired.”

“I’ll find fulfillment when I have a baby.”

But the truth is, we never do. Even when we think we get there, it doesn’t last. The “right partner” has annoying qualities that drive us crazy. The “next job” doesn’t totally fill the ache for identity and usefulness. Regaining our health stops our temporary pain but doesn’t produce lasting joy or security. There will always, always, be unfulfilled desires while we live on this earth. Why? Because fulfillment cannot be found apart from the Fulfiller. And we cannot ever be completely one with the Fulfiller in this life.

Far Too Easily Pleased

It is what we do with pain that determines our outlook on life.

The recognition that we will never truly find fulfillment of our desires until we are one with God changes my perspective on my own suffering, and on the suffering I see within the world around me. It reminds me that my pain is not somehow unique or especially heinous or that in MY case, if I could just GET TO THIS PLACE, everything would be ok. It shows me that all of the sin and brokenness and horror of this world is primarily misplaced attempts to fulfill desires with the wrong things. We endlessly seek, in health and sex and relationships and money and pride and possessions and jobs and education and religion, the satiation of yearnings from the soul.

But it will never be so, in this world. It will never be so until I reach the Kingdom of God. It will never be so until the Creator of my desires becomes the fulfillment of those desires.

C. S. Lewis put it this way:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We long for God, but don’t know it, and so we squander the lives, meant to be lived in increasing our capacity to be fulfilled by Him, with cheap counterfeits that never satisfy.

He wants better for us…and so He provides us with suffering.

The Fulfiller of Desires

The truth is that it is suffering that plays the greatest role in rightly ordering our misplaced desires. This is a central reason for why I am allowed to experience this pain; it is so that I can provide testimony to a grieving, hurting, very lost world that the Fulfiller of Desires will be the only One to fix it all. And, if we know Him, we will be able to experience pieces of His fulfillment, here and now, even in the midst of the pain, until the time we live in His presence for good and have every craving satiated forever.

I have something significant in common with those unbelievers who kill their unborn children, those who enslave women, and those who burn Christians alive: we all are in pain. We all have unfulfilled desires that will never be satiated from anything we seek on this earth.

The difference is that I know the Fulfiller of Desires.

My suffering has changed me, for the better. I hurt, but I do it in the arms of the One who is working to rid the entire world of pain. Every loss has unveiled the yawning appetite for that which only God can give, and it has clarified the vanity and hollowness of seeking to fill my cup out of the wine of this world. It is pain that has loosened my tether to this life, and pointed my eyes heavenward in breathless expectation for the next. Every bit of pain I experience makes me want less of this world and more of God’s.

In that, there is meaning and purpose in suffering. There is beauty in pain.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

I am in the middle of July, the month that tells me my pain will be relieved, and I will finally reach the place of contentment I have so desired, if I have another child. Yet the Fulfiller of Desires reminds me:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Matthew 6:33

All these things will be provided for me. Everything. The fulfillment of every desire, the quench of every thirst, the slaking of every hunger, the satisfaction of every longing.

Why? Because it’s only found in Him.

I am getting better at accepting pain. The past three years have been monumental in helping me shift from fighting suffering in my life to releasing it into the hands of the Father. The more suffering I experience, the less I yearn for anything of this world, and the more I ache for Him. And that is, I believe, His desire.

A Word to the Broken

To every broken, hurting, messed up person like me in the world, I say this:

You will not ultimately find the love you are seeking in your human relationships. You will not ultimately find security in your financial well-being. You will not ultimately find your identity in your career or family. You will not ultimately find pleasure in your sexuality. You will not ultimately find worth in your academic, professional, or personal successes. You may think you do, but it will be temporary. And then the longing will resume, and the pain will return. No matter how hard you try, and no matter what you do to avoid it, you will have a July, too. And then you will hurt, and you’ll start the cycle all over again.

Quit the cycle. Give up seeking fulfillment anywhere but in the Fulfiller of Desires. Get to know Him. Fall in love with Him. Obey Him. Worship Him. Let Him use the pain of this world to rip open your heart so you stop trying to pour things into it that just filter straight through, like water through a sieve. And then let Him plug up the holes with Himself.

His ways are right. His guidelines are good. Since He is the One that created us with the desires, only He can fill them.

 

Right now, here, it may be July for many of us  – but when the Fulfiller of Desires is through with His work, for those of us who seek Him, it will be, forever, a whole new year.

 

 

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 37

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *