We push back from the table to give our bellies room to expand. Our plates, covered with smears of gravy and daubes of cranberry sauce, litter the table. Luke tips the bread basket to peek under the cloth, but we demolished the homemade rolls.
“Surely you’re not still hungry,” I ask him while I replace my coffee cup on its saucer.
He leans back and stretches his legs far under the table. “No, I’m stuffed, but I can always make room for one more roll.” I chuckle and study people around the table. Like my stomach, my heart swells to hear them banter with each other, but at the same time, I feel the tug for people not present.
Are you kidding? I chide myself. The turkey was tender and hot, two sons, a daughter-in-law, plus your husband of forty-two years shared a feast with you, and you’re not satisfied?
Why am I unsatisfied in the presence of obvious bounty? A speaker, whom I can’t remember, said something akin to— the only way we can truly enjoy, is when we are fully satisfied by Christ. Then the other pleasures of life can be just that—enjoyment, because we aren’t expecting them to be something they could never be. Only Jesus can fully satisfy.
This idea holds truth, but I am in Christ and yet often unsatisfied. Why do I long for more? Many people say our longing stems from living in a broken world while longing for the wholeness of a re-made world without sin. They call this living in the “already of redemption but the not yet of full sanctification and glorification.”
I recognize this already-but-not-yet longing in my life, but I feel dissatisfied even in times of goodweather-successfulwork-plentyofpossessions-lifegivingfriends&family. I argue that Adam, living in an even better, untainted world, enjoyed the physical presence of God walking with him, yet scanned the animals for another like himself. Then, God gave him Eve. She too shared companionship with Adam and God, yet she reached for the one fruit forbidden. Why were Adam and Eve dissatisfied with the wholeness they already possessed? Did they or I lust for expectations unmet? Maybe they wanted God to perform for them or I wanted more appreciation for preparation of a lavish meal.
I don’t know the answer to hungering when surrounded by plenty, but scripture arms me with plans to combat dissatisfaction. In Ephesians 3, rooting myself in God’s love can fill me with the fullness of God. I root myself in His love by reigning in thoughts of woe or dissatisfaction and, instead, set my mind to remember times God demonstrated His love for me.
The book of James gives another weapon for dissatisfaction warfare. He says to consider trials as pure joy, then I will become mature and complete. Trials don’t sound like pure joy to me, but if I am rooted in God’s love, I can view trials as sifted through His love for my benefit and His glory, even when I hurt or they don’t make sense.
Throughout the Psalms, their authors who seek God’s presence find satisfaction. I too can fight against gluttony caused by dissatisfaction, by telling myself that I am full. Stop, wherever I am, and concentrate on the presence of God in me or in the room. I declare to myself God lives with me, and I need nothing more. The Lord is my satisfaction, and I lack nothing.
Scriptures hold true through all times, but sometimes we feel intense longing when grieving. In these times, the Psalmists express their lament and their trust in God’s making all things right in the end. Elizabeth Turnage wrote a beautiful and helpful post about grieving during the Christmas season. I recommend reading Coping with Grief During the Holiday, if you suffer from loss.
If I am not wrestling with an immediate sense of grief, then when Christmas morning arrives, and mounds of torn and crumpled wrapping paper surround me, I determine not to wonder if another gift hides under the tree, to mourn the ghosts of people, or harbor unspoken expectations. I will remind myself of the expansive richness of God indwelling me and be filled. Then, I can enjoy the people and situations around me, not needing perfect settings or others to complete me. I determine to be satiated in Christ.
“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13