Ladies and gentlemen, it's been a tough week.
Remember when I said that God has been teaching me to be satisfied in him alone? How I've learned that He does and will satisfy me more deeply and fully than anything the world could ever offer? How everything else - relationships, health, material stuff - will always leave me wanting more?
That belief has been put to the test this week.
I've been in a "funk" for days. Down in the dumps. Irritable and short-tempered. Seeing problems and obstacles everywhere I looked.
By this morning, I'd had enough. Driving alone in my car, I turned off the music and cried out to him. "Search me, O God, and know me; test me, and know my anxious thoughts." Psalm 139:23
It didn't take long to hear his voice. The Holy Spirit soon made it clear that I've been putting my hope in all of these different places in my life, looking to everything else to find satisfaction and fulfillment. And slowly, insidiously, discontentment crept in. All of the space that should be filled with thanksgiving and grace and peace became crowded with thoughts of doubt, worry, and self-pity.
You know how it goes. One minute I'm on my knees, offering all I am to God. Full of thanksgiving and praise, rejoicing in everything the Lord has done. Marveling in the work of his hands.
And a moment later, something goes wrong. My husband has another bad month at work. My children frustrate me. My body fails me.
It isn't wrong to hope for the best in this life. There are plenty of "temporary" things that I look forward to - vacations, milestones and memories, a better financial position for our family. But when I stake my joy in the things that are passing away, disappointment and frustration will always rule the day.
I will not be satisfied because of how I look. No matter how many half-marathons I run, one bad picture will leave me feeling defeated.
I will not be satisfied in how much money we have. Even if my husband's business finally takes off. Even if we dig ourselves out of debt. Even if, someday, we have something in the budget to spare. There will always be something else that is just out of our reach.
I will not be satisfied in my marriage. Great as we are, Ben and I will always be two flawed, grace-dependent people who will argue and irritate and push each other's buttons. Relationships - any relationships - will disappoint sometimes.
I will not be satisfied in having another baby. I long to have another baby, and I have to surrender that desire to the Lord over and over, to trust that his plan and his timing for our family are perfect. But even if he gives me the most amazing baby GIRL ever, she will still poop and cry and throw things and talk back to me. My children, wonderful as they can be, will sometimes leave me feeling nothing but frustration and disillusionment.
Are you depressed yet?
Honestly, I am. A little. Everything that I struggle with from time to time came crashing down on me this week, and right now, my spirit is a little downtrodden. But after lots of whining and crying and "why Lord, why?"-ing, God brought this verse to my heart:
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
A very familiar verse, and one whose meaning has changed for me over the years. I used to read that as, "Awesome! If I just love Jesus, he'll let me have every single thing I want!"
Then it became, "He'll let me have every single thing that I really really really want!"
Then, "He'll let me have every thing that He wants?" (less fun)
Now, I think, I get it. The desire of my heart is Jesus. Beyond all of the "stuff" that I wish for, the overwhelming desire in the deepest part of my heart is to walk, every day, in the joy of knowing Jesus. To live each day with the peace that comes from keeping my eyes fixed securely on him.
But I can't live that way if I delight myself in anything else. So, again, I have to lay it down. The disappointments. The failures. The unanswered prayers. The unmet expectations.
In the shadow of the cross, I lay before him every bit of fear, worry, disbelief, and anger that has been like an anvil on my shoulders. I confess my sinfulness - a bitter heart, envious thoughts, entitled attitude, and harsh words. I wrench my eyes from the "here and now" and ask for his eternal perspective.
And oh, he is faithful. In the shelter of his wings, broken and utterly at the end of myself, I find his peace. His love floods over me, washing me clean. He creates in me a clean heart and renews a right spirit within me.
He gives me hope.
Hope. Is there anything better than hope?
Confident, life-affirming hope that no matter what happens in this life, Jesus is mine. He is my rock and my redeemer, my shield and my shelter, my help and my counselor.
He is my satisfaction.