Post written by Erica Wright
I was recently told that I shouldn’t be satisfied.
A friend of mine and I were discussing our packing strategies before leaving for a weekend trip together. Like most women, we decided that we could pack more if we shared the essentials. I was elected to bring the hair dryer that we would share for the weekend. The next morning, my friend was using my hair dryer, flipped the dryer off, turned to me and said (in so many words), “You know, your hair dryer is terrible. It’s taking me forever to dry my hair.” Well this was news to me. I left the weekend with a keen and perpetual awareness that my hair dryer just wasn’t up to par, to which I had been oblivious to just a few days earlier. I went to Walmart no more than a week later and bought a new hair dryer, a pink one. I left relieved that I would no longer live under the bondage of a bad hair dryer.
Seems silly, I know. But is it? I bought into someone telling me I needed more. That what I had wasn’t good enough. Tell me I’m not the only one buying into this lie!
My first thought, after a thorough over-analysis of the situation (entirely consistent with my personality), was where does dissatisfaction come from?
What is the root of dissatisfaction?
In Genesis chapter 3 we find Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field…” No kidding. The story that proceeds tells us why. Satan convinces Eve that though God had instructed them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17), it was this very tree that would make them like God, knowing good and evil, and from it they would surely not die. Verse 6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”
The role of Satan, his plan, his tactic, is to make us want what we can’t have and many times what God knows we shouldn’t have for our own good. He did it to Eve and he does it to us. He shifted Eve’s focus from all the permitted trees in the garden, to her desire for the one she couldn’t have. He made her discontent with God’s provision. He presented this one tree as something worth attaining. It was valuable, it was attractive and it was desirable.
Satan promised Eve that the fruit would open their eyes, and it did. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to their own nakedness, their own shame. Now they needed to hide, to cover themselves. Satan speaks half-truths, promising much but delivering little. He convinces us of what we need, but it only leads us to recognizing we need more, never reaching satisfaction. It’s cyclical, and it’s his game. Friends, let me suggest to you that Satan is the author of dissatisfaction.
Satan is using whatever means he can to tell us we need more.
What does Scripture say about satisfaction?
Since the fall, there is a deep insatiable desire/longing within us.
Humanity was created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Though the text does not specify the identity of the “us” mentioned in this verse, many would suggest it is the first indication in Scripture of the Triune God. The fellowship within the members of the Trinity is described throughout the New Testament (John 1:18, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 8:1). The extent of their fellowship is seen in that they indeed are one. It is in this image of the Triune fellowship that humanity was created.
Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden, they had unrestrained fellowship with Him before sin. After the fall, Adam and Eve were sent out from the Garden and separated from God. We live in this separation. But because our souls were created in the image of God, we long for fellowship with God, as the trinity is in fellowship with one another. But our fellowship is barred by sin. Though this is our ultimate need, we attempt to fill it with whatever our hands and hearts can grasp, whatever promises fulfillment and satisfaction, and we are miffed when it doesn’t deliver. Something is missing, and dissatisfaction is birthed.
We seek after that which does not satisfy and we pursue it at great cost. Isaiah saw this truth alive in the life of Israel and asked, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2) Solomon calls this “toiling for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 5:16)
Christ satisfies the deep spiritual longings of the soul. In the Gospels, Christ identifies himself as both the living water (John 4) and the bread of life (John 6). If we come to Christ, he satisfies. “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) If you don’t know the bread of life, the living water, let me tell you now, he is your only hope for satisfaction. God is love (1 John 4:16). The Father and the Son are one. Christ is the love that satisfies. It is only in relationship with him that our sin is wiped clean and we are able to be in fellowship with God, the satisfaction of our souls.
When we enter into a relationship with God, we are satisfied by His love. David prays in Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.” The ultimate picture of this love is seen in Christ.
Are we ever satisfied? Is this even possible?
Yes. Scripture clearly speaks of a hope for satisfaction. David, a man after God’s own heart tells of it, longs for it, and recognizes God as the giver of it.
Psalm 17:15, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”
Psalm 63: 5, “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.”
Psalm 107:9, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that those who recognize God as the source of righteousness and long for Him will be satisfied through their relationship with Him.
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
So what do we do?
We must learn to contrast our “needs” with the Word of God. Satan tells us we need to be beautiful to be fulfilled. Scripture says that “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting.” (Proverbs 31:30) Satan tells us we need worldly knowledge to elevate our own intelligence. Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Does what the world is telling us line up with the Word of God, which is our authority as Christians? Seek truth in Scripture. Tune your ears to the Word and not to the world.
Learn to be content. Paul speaks of being content in Philippians 4. “…For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” In this passage he says that he has learned the secret of being content in any circumstance. Contentedness is to be pursued and sought after. It is a secret, not the obvious. But Paul says he can do all things through Christ, no matter the circumstance. It’s Christ. The strength of Christ, through a relationship with Him, creates a spirit of contentment. In Paul’s exhortation in the previous portion of Philippians 4, he encourages the church to rejoice always, to present requests to God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. In this we receive peace. Can peace and discontentment coexist? I don’t see how. We are to be in fellowship with God through Christ, presenting our needs to him, thanking Him for His provision, rejoicing because we ultimately have all we need in Christ.
Pursue Christ and allow the fullness of Him to satisfy. As reflected in the Garden and throughout Scripture, God provides. God provided his Son as a provision for our redemption. Christ is God’s ultimate provision. Not only is He what we need, He is ALL we need. We must put ourselves in a position, open to receiving the fullness of Him. Psalm 81:10 says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” In a sense, we must open our mouths. In John 4, Jesus says to drink of the living water and never thirst again. And so we must drink, there is an active seeking on our part. We must consistently deny the barrier of sin through confession and repentance, and enter into fellowship with God.
At the end of the day, my hair dryer will never satisfy. It will never be enough. The same friend was visiting some time after the previously recounted incident and I couldn’t help but show her my new pink hair dryer. She immediately picked it up and turned it on. Waiting to hear the praises of such a feat of ingenuity, I was surprisingly unaffected when she told me it still wasn’t great. Good thing an exceptional hair dryer doesn’t determine the satisfaction of my soul. Maybe it’s not a hairdryer for you, I mean it’s probably not. Maybe it’s a relationship. Or a material possession. If I only had ______ , then I would be satisfied. My prayer is that we would hope in Christ and not toil after the wind. That we would drink of the living water and be truly satisfied. That Christ would be our supreme sufficiency.