Emptiness. It is unavoidable, even though many of us try our best to. We try to avoid our emptiness by connecting with others, escaping into activities and habits that may be good for us, or may be destructive to us. Yet, when the noise fades, and we are left alone with our own thoughts, we are left with broken dreams, disappointments, hurts, traumas, and overall an emptiness that cannot be quenched by anything in this life. What are we to do then? Turn to Jesus. He promises to quench the thirst that we have, and to fill us up with Himself. And when we are filled by Him, then we are truly full.
I have been in a season of emptiness. In March I ended a relationship with a girl that I really loved, someone I saw myself marrying, and the loss absolutely crushed me. In an attempt to fill the emptiness, the sadness, the loss, I have thrown myself into other things. Destructive things. These have just left me more and more sad, lost, empty. Yet, I have continued in them.
Why do I continue in these things if they perpetuate my sadness and despair?
Good question. Maybe it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe it’s because I like being sad and depressed. The most likely answer though is that I believe somewhere inside of me that if I just reach a certain point, I could be happy in my sin. I believe that there is a point I have not reached yet. A place I have not gone to that will actually quench my thirst. And in reality, I would rather not have to face the realities of my life, and so I escape into my sin, hoping that one day, I will find what I’m looking for, if I just keep searching high and low and going further and farther.
Yet, this is not how sinful, destructive, addictive behavior works. Sin is truly an insatiable, unquenchable thing that leads us farther and farther into despair as we continue to chase the carrot that is just is out of our reach, and will always be out of our reach.
A children’s book that I love that I constantly come back to as an adult is If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. The story is about a boy who gives a mouse a cookie, which leads to the mouse asking for a glass of milk, and then a napkin, and then the story goes off on a whole myriad of things that the mouse asks for that has nothing to do with the cookie, such as getting a trim, cleaning the house, taking a nap, and taking a bath. In the end, this one act of giving a cookie to this mouse, has lead this young boy to sacrifice much of his time, energy, resources, and still at the end, the mouse comes back unsatisfied and wants another cookie.
This story is not so much a story of an OCD mouse that cannot make up his mind about what he wants, but rather about the condition of the human heart. We are a people that are not content, and it doesn’t take much evidence to convince us of this.
From a child on Christmas morning receiving a new toy, to a newly married couple, to a professional with a new job, we grow old of new things quickly, and we want newer, better, more. The very first humans, Adam and Eve, while living in paradise, in a perfect world, were not content, and they wanted more, and it cost them everything.
Sin likewise costs us everything while promising more. While the boy in the story only lost an afternoon of his time, a couple cookies, and some milk, the consequences of chasing after our sin are much more detrimental to us, both in the short and long term.
Chasing after sinful pleasures will not quench your thirsts and desires in life.
Oh that we would believe this. That the temporary pleasures we get from tasting the forbidden fruit are not worth it. That I would believe this.
If sin doesn’t fill us up, yet leaves us chasing an insatiable desire, driving us to despair and emptiness, where do we find true fulfillment?
He came that we would “live life and live it to the full” (John 10:10).
This is the good news of the gospel. That our insatiable desires, the sinful pleasures that taunt and torture us, don’t have to define us because Jesus has conquered them. We don’t have to let our emptiness control us.
One day we will live fully free from emptiness, disappointment, frustration, sadness, trauma, anger, injustice in a restored Garden of Eden. In Heaven. And right now we can truly live instead of just being alive.
Are you empty today? Me too. I get it. I feel it on such a deep level. Yet, I know, somewhere, deep down inside of me, that I believe that Jesus can heal me. That He can quench my thirst. That He can bring me joy to my innermost parts.
I pray that He would show you and I today not only how destructive, empty, lonely, despairing, and frustrating a life of chasing after sin is, but that also He would show us how good He is. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). He never gives us up on us, and that gives me a glimmer of hope that one day, hopefully soon, I will make the journey home to a Father who has never left me.