I seem to find myself in a constant state of restlessness. It often feels nearly impossible to quiet my mind and still my spirit.
Okay—I confess—it’s likely that I have way too much going on in my life all at once. Can you relate? I bet you can!
The Bible speaks volumes about our common experience of restlessness and dis-ease as human beings.
Eve’s restlessness in the Garden of Eden was the byproduct of Satan’s diabolical scheme to sow seeds of doubt in her mind about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:1-7).
Abram and Sarai’s (later renamed Abraham and Sarah) impatience during their long wait for a promised son resulted in them taking things into their own hands. They foolishly decided to use their Egyptian servant Hagar as a surrogate mother to provide a child (Gen. 16, 21)—with grievous results.
Jacob’s dissatisfaction and power-hungry-pursuit in being the second-born led to his manipulative and deceptive behaviors in stealing both his older twin Esau’s birthright and first-born blessing (Gen. 25:29-34; Gen. 27).
Israel’s murmuring in the wilderness while impatiently waiting for Moses to descend from Mt. Sinai from his sacred summit with God resulted in their persuasion of Aaron to create for them the Golden Calf (Gen. 32), invoking God’s displeasure.
Samson’s impulsiveness led him to pursue idolatrous Philistine women as wives and lovers, resulting in his demise at the hands of Delilah (Judges 14-16), when he revealed to her the secret of his superhuman strength.
David’s boredom and lust caused him to become an adulterer when he allowed his passion to consume his attraction to Bathsheba, causing him to plot her husband Uriah’s murder (2 Sam. 11). David’s punishment was the tragic death of his baby boy (2 Sam. 12).
Solomon’s edginess, despite his unparalleled wisdom and wealth, resulted in him turning from the Lord through his ill-advised marriages with many non-Israelite, idolatrous women (1 Kings 11). His haunting, self-reflective words penned in his old age are eye-opening in Ecclesiastes as he recognized “all is vanity and a chasing after the wind.”
As finite beings, each one of us, remains in a state of incompleteness, of incessant searching. In fact, we are most vulnerable when we achieve some great desire and recognize its ultimate futility.
We all struggle with “Divine Dissatisfaction,” a condition no carnal or temporal happiness can cure. The things we feverishly pursue are usually inadequate substitutions of the spiritual things which we actually desire beneath the surface. But as this-worldly material “things” they never fully satisfy our longings within our souls.
You see, human desire, the quest for something that will satisfy us, points beyond finite objects and imperfect persons. It points through these objects and persons towards their real goal in God himself. Education, qualifications, prestigious careers, relationships, money and stuff—none of these can ever fulfill that for which we ultimately search.
This is the paradox of hedonism—a view which holds that pursuit of pleasure is the ultimate good. But worldly pleasure is unable to satisfy the soul. This is the “Divine dissatisfaction” which points us back to God.
To the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said (in John 4:13-14), “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Only God himself can satiate our spiritual hunger and quench our spiritual thirst.
St. Augustine prayed: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
We have been created by God and experience a deep sense of longing for Him which only he can satisfy. The Psalmist expressed this concept vividly: “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you” (Psalm 42:1).
We enter into the life of faith and discover God through belief in that which is beyond us. We can't build any worthwhile kind of life unless we have God at the core—as the very foundation of our existence.