Today’s post comes from Michael Porto, Ministry Assistant at MBC. You can reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org
These days most things seem to be zapping our life away. Most of us are now all too familiar with Zoom fatigue; the sensation we get after spending time (copious amounts of time) interacting with one another via video chat. Something about having to decipher physical cues through a camera and display make it exhausting. Then we have the rhythm of work/home that has been disrupted. Most of us are accustomed to and appreciate the break that we get from home while we are at work, and the break we get from work while we are at home.
Now for a number of us the two are blended together. We are not the only ones struggling with this. Our kids, used to spending time at school and work engaging others, are now at home with the rest of their family, all day long. It has become difficult to tell the difference between Tuesday and Saturday. To further complicate things, something that for many of us was an opportunity to wind down and relax has now been removed. This being watching sports of various kinds. A quick perusal through YouTube shows that many channels, like ESPN, are having a hard time coming up with original content and are having to post clips from days gone by. As if their programming didn’t already include enough of that anyway.
All these things seem to be energy sucking instead of life-giving. We could be bothered by what we are experiencing. I’m sure many of us are frustrated and it shows at various times throughout the day. A curt word here towards our kids, a rolling of the eyes there towards our wives, perhaps we’ve noticed an increase in the usage (at least mentally) of choice language. What are we to do with what we find in our lives as a result of being safer (but less sane) at home? Might I propose two possible responses that find their anchor point in Psalm 16.
The first response is relatively straightforward – understand that this world does not satisfy. David, the man well acquainted with experiencing the highs and lows of life, says in verse 4 of Psalm 16 that “the sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.” It sounds mystical and hyper-religious when we speak and think in terms of gods and worship, and as a result it can be hard to see the connection between what he is talking about and our own lives. So instead, think of those terms as revealing what you and I pine after, what we expend precious energy and time trying to attain. Things like a better retirement, a bigger house, a newer car, a better sex life, more stuff, the correct body type, order in the house, respect from our spouse and kids. The list goes on. All these things that we give our energies to are what we worship, and David says that they increase sorrow.
This draining that we are experiencing is what’s talked about in passages like Ecclesiastes 1:8, “all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing.” Or in Proverbs 27:20, “Sheol and Abaddon (the grave and the pit) are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.” Am I the only one who has thought that if I could get a few extra days away from the office that I would be happier, only to find that when I do, I am longing for the relief work brought from being stuck at home all the time?
We may now be more keenly aware of the reality of the faulty “greener grass” perspective because of the inconveniences of the Covid-19 lockdown. But, this is from the hand of a good God. Through these means, even something like the Coronavirus, God is showing us that what we run after doesn’t satisfy. In fact it does the opposite; it leaves us feeling more and more empty. It drains us. It wearies us. It makes our sleep less satisfying. It increases our worry.
If you don’t already think this way, or if you need a reminder, this world does not satisfy. Be glad for that.
The second response is to run to that which does satisfy; specifically, the source and fountain of life, God himself. The Bible is full of language that deals with desires and wants, cravings and satisfactions, and it is routinely connecting God with these ideas. Think about how Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4, I am the “fountain of living water”, or what he said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life”. That God is all-satisfying is the reality that Jesus knew and lived in light of.
Let’s go back to Psalm 16. We not only find the affirmation of the negative characteristics of false gods – that they do not satisfy, but also the affirmation of the positive characteristics of God’s ability to satisfy our deepest longings.
David does not shy away from this reality and when you start to look for the concept, you find that the whole of the Psalm deals with this reality. I’ll highlight a few:
- In you I take refuge. v1
- I have no good apart from you. v1
- The lord is my chosen cup and portion (think of how food and drink make us feel) v.5
- The lines have fallen in pleasant places v.6
There are several more statements about the goodness of God and his ability to satisfy our deepest longings in this Psalm, but the most clear may be found in v.11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Okay, time for an honest question. How many of us actually believe that God is full of pleasures…unending pleasures? And I mean believe in the sense of how James talks about belief in James 2:18, following it up with action that proves that belief. The reality is that many of us do not live in light of this life-giving truth.
God is all too aware of how he made us; we are made to worship. And the supreme source of satisfaction – what we worship that will actually give what it (really, he) promises – is God. Invite this thought to take root in your mind. Allow the reality of God’s desire for your good and your satisfaction being met in Him to pervade your thinking.
May we find joy in Christ this week.