Our desire for personal knowledge of God is strong, but we usually fail to recognize the desire for what it is. When we first fall in love, when we first marry, when we finally break into our chosen field, when we at last get that weekend house—these breakthroughs arouse in us an anticipation of something, which, as it turns out, never occurs. We eventually discover that our desire for that precious something is a longing that no lover or career or achievement, even the best possible ones, can ever satisfy.
The satisfaction fades away even as we close our fingers around our goal. Nothing ever delivers the joy it seemed to promise. Many of us avoid the yawning emptiness through busyness or denial, but, at best, there is only a postponement. "Nothing tastes," said Marie Antoinette. There are several ways people respond to this:
- Blame the things themselves and find fault with everyone and everything around them. Some people believe that a better spouse, a better career, a better boss or salary would finally yield the elusive joy. Many of the world's most successful people are like this: bored, discontented, running from new thing to new thing, often changing counselors, mates, partners, settings.
- Blame themselves and try harder to live up to self-imposed standards. Many people feel they have made poor choices or failed to measure up to challenges and to achieve the things that would give them joy and satisfaction. Such people are wracked with self-doubts and tend to burn themselves out. They think, "If only I could reach my goals, then this emptiness would be gone." But it is not so.
- Blame the universe and give up seeking fulfillment at all. These are the people who say, "Yes, when young you are idealistic, but at my age I have stopped howling after the moon." They become cynical and decide to repress that part of themselves that once wanted fulfillment and joy. But they become hard, and they can feel themselves losing their humanity, compassion and joy.
- Blame and recognize their separation from God and establish a personal relationship with Him. The Christian says, "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire, which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not mean that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” — C. S. Lewis