Chapter 3: Lies Women Believe About Themselves
Day 5: Surrendering our Longings
Lie #12: “I shouldn’t have to live with unfulfilled longings.”
Everyone struggles with unfulfilled longings. Not only that, but we will always have this struggle until we enter Heaven, where every desire will finally be satisfied through Christ. But for now, what do we do?
First, we need to understand that the longings we have are not accidental; God uses our desires in our lives to teach us. Sometimes the lesson is learned through the process of him fulfilling our desires; sometimes it is learned through the denial of our desires, but there is always a purpose for our struggles and the desires that we have are a huge opportunity for us to grow in our relationship with God.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t like waiting to see what God will do about our desires, so we start by taking matters into our own hands. When we finally do incorporate God into the mix, it’s more of a “Hey, God, come give this to me,” kind of situation, and it only makes things worse because it reveals our idolatry.
We not only want what we want but we want it when we want it; it must be immediate and it must be easy and it must make us feel good. So when desires rise up, we immediately search for ways to satisfy them. This is what gets us into huge trouble – it’s where jobs are lost, where relationships fail, and where addictions take hold.
Let’s stop and take a closer look at how desires become dangerous.
A desire in and of itself is harmless. It’s what we choose to do with that desire that can cause damage or can bring about growth.
When we have a desire, we have two options. We can either surrender that desire to God and trust him to satisfy it the right way with the right thing at the right time, or we can begin to focus on the desire and feed it by focusing on the negative, focusing on what we don’t have but wish we did, and how much better life would be if we DID have it.
When we surrender that desire, we place God in control. It requires faith that God is good and He loves us, and it gives us hope because we know that he is able to satisfy us with good things; and that starts with himself. We will grow in our relationship with him as we become dependent upon him, and then allow him to direct our desires and satisfy our desires.
However, if we choose to give in to temptation (by focusing on what we don’t have), then desire grows into need. Instead of saying (or thinking) about how much we want it, we start saying we need it, and we find reasons to validate our needs. And let’s face it: needs need to be met. So of course we are justified in letting it get to the next step — demand.
Once it’s a need, we feel justified in demanding our “need” be met. We begin to make demands of others in our lives to help us to meet the need. We also do the same to God.
And as we make demands, we place expectations on those people – it’s not enough that I need this, or that I’m demanding it, but now I’m expecting you to come through for me and do this for me.
Unfortunately, these people are.. well.. people. And eventually people fail us. And God will never meet our demands; he’s looking for submission, for humility, not pride, arrogance and domination. So when faced with disappointment, we react strongly – usually by attempting to inflict some sort of punishment against the people who we feel failed us.
This is the process of manipulation. Because when we feed into our desires, we begin to manipulate circumstances, people, and even God to get what we want. But it doesn’t work. God thwarts us because he knows that satisfaction is only found in him. There is nothing and no one in this world who will make us feel happy and content.
God created longings and desires in us so that we would seek him, not use him. He wants to satisfy us! We see this in Deuteronomy 8, where scripture says God caused the Israelite to hunger so that he could feed them. But how did they respond? Anger, accusations. We often look down on the Israelite for their lack of faith and incredible fear and anger, but we do the exact same thing. God creates desires in us, and when we can’t find an immediate solution, we get angry. We keep God away and turn to him only as a last resort. Why? Fear.
There’s a lyric in a song that says, “fear kills more dreams than failure,” and it’s true.
At each stage of growth in our walk with Christ, it always comes down to choosing fear or faith.
I can choose fear of what God will do *to* me, or I can choose to have faith that gives me hope of what God will do *for* me.
I can choose fear, which says I’ll be miserable, alone, and in pain unless I act, or I can choose faith that God is good, he loves me, and he is all that I need.
I can choose fear, anxiety, and anger that leads me to feel justified in doing whatever it takes to get what I want, or I can choose faith that leads to peace and joy as I remember that whatever God does is so much better than anything I can do.
I can choose fear, which causes me to doubt God’s love and goodness and tells me he will forget about me, or I can choose faith, which reminds me how God has come through for me over and over again, and that he wants to bless me, not make me miserable.
It’s okay (and entirely possible!) to be content with what you have and where you’re at, while at the same time longing for something more, different, or better. The key is learning to be content and let God bring you to that point, rather than making demands and attempting to take control yourself.
Contentment comes from being filled with gratitude – which requires that we look at God. When we take the time to remember that he’s not yet failed us, we can have security that he won’t start now. When we see that he’s been enough for us up until now, we can trust that he will be enough for us in the present and future as well. So we surrender our longings because we trust God and know that the only thing we really need is him.
The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. -Joshua Harris.
So let’s take the time to go back to the moments of truth we’ve had along our walk with Christ. To remember how he’s delivered us, provided for us, and loved us. To be thankful. To trust him to provide the right context, and in the meantime practice an attitude of gratitude while we wait. Let your longings drive you into the arms of Jesus, not away.
Empty your hands, let go of your desires, and place them into the hands of your Abba Father who loves you more than you can imagine, and let him do the work. Trust him; if it’s a good thing, he will provide in the right way. And if it is not, he will begin to change your desires so that you can desire the good things, which start with him.
Because ultimately, if it’s something that I *need,* God can’t trust me with it – it is an idol. But when I understand that the only thing I truly need is Jesus, God can trust me with the things I desire in life.
Key Points to Remember:
- Unfulfilled longings are material for sacrifice.
- The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.
- I must exchange my fear of what God will do *to* me to faith and hope for what God will do *for* me.
- When I get to where I don’t need it, God can trust me with it.
- The process of manipulation: desire > need > demand > expect > disappointment > punishment
- Thankfulness is the key to contentment.
- I must find my satisfaction, peace and joy in Christ alone.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.