When "Perfect" Isn't Enough

Cozily nestled in a recliner next to the crackling fire, my heart is full. Home at last and reunited with my family for Thanksgiving break, I am overjoyed with gratitude. My family is healthy and their laughter floods the house; Thanksgiving dinner awaits; an incredible collection of friends—old and new—fill my life; all of my basic needs are quenched and then some. 

Yet I am aware of a nagging thump that has crawled into my mind, disquieting my spirit. 

What could possibly be wrong with this moment? Everything is so perfect.

But the parasite is easy to identify. Discontentment.

If you're human, then you know the feeling. When we are in need or burdened with sorrow, we will almost always feel a longing for the things that we need or that will heal our aching spirits. But why is it that even when we live with plenty, we never gain a sense of complete fulfillment? When we live in harmonious community with close friends, when we feel like God is close, when life is just good…why is that never enough?

Even when all is perfect for a time, there is alway the lingering dread of what might await—how our time on this planet is racing by, how something else needs to be crossed off the to-do list tomorrow. Pain and regret illustrate in our minds what could-have and should-have been, haunting even the happiest moments. No matter how grand things seem at the time, something deep in the cracks of our hearts is stirring, groaning with some burning, unnamed longing.

Is this the work of the Enemy? Or, perhaps, could these longings be God-sent, etched into our very human nature?

Truly, it depends on what it is our hearts are longing for. Satan poisons us with a discontentment that makes us believe that more things will make us happy. He tries to tell you that if you are funnier or more attractive, if you wear this makeup or lose this much weight, then people will like you and that will be enough to satisfy you. “If I just get married to the right person, then I’ll be happy.” Or “If I just get this promotion, then I’ll be set for life.” These lies are all toxic to the soul. No human can satisfy your soul, and no amount of stuff or money or beauty or power will ever provide long-term security.

God, on the other hand, has crafted our souls not in a way that makes us crave more things and fame. Instead, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

“Instead of changelessness, there is something better: a dynamic, divine purpose, with its beginning and end. Instead of frozen perfection, there is the kaleidoscopic movements of innumerable processes, each with its own character and its period of blossoming and ripening; beautiful in its time and contributing to the over-all masterpiece which is the work of our Creator.”    -Kidner

Our souls were made for eternity. Regardless of how good we feel about our lives today, there will always be something telling us that there is more than what we now experience. There is infinite Goodness, and we thirst for it. If we were completely and wholly satisfied with earthly things, with people, or with accomplishments, then who would even want anything greater? Would we even be aware of our Maker? But our dissatisfaction unveils our innate need for Him. Our pain and our sorrow reveal our utter dependence on God, demonstrating how vulnerable our dry, aging bones are to the world around us.

So rejoice in this—to those who live in a state of plenty and happiness for now—know that it gets better and give thanks to God for what you do have. To those who live in need or are mourning—know that the pains we experience and the sorrows we face will be whisked away, and give thanks to God now because of this promise. 

And when perfection is not enough, know that someday all our hearts’ deepest longings will be infinitely satisfied in the presence of our Savior, the Living Water himself. “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). We will crave nothing because all that we could ever need is infinitely fulfilled in the presence of God himself and the communion we will have with him. 

Whether grieving or needing or wanting or having our needs met, nothing on this earth will truly satisfy—we are all just grasping at forever. May we be grateful that we were born with this yearning for more, and let our fragile, aging bodies praise the One who has tailored our hearts for eternity.

So we thank You, Father, for eternity. For Your Son who gave his life so that we might have life to the full. For the peace that we can have in the present because we know something greater is in store. Yes, we even thank You for the nagging emptiness that takes over when we entrust our futures to the hands of earthly idols, and how you use that to lead us back to You. We thank You, Lord, for the pain and for the joy and for everything in between, and how You are using it all to draw us closer to You and bring You glory.