Desires, disappointments and satisfaction

Early in 1941 CS Lewis ... gave a series of talks on BBC radio

Huw Williams | 15:44, 8 Jun 2020

[This content was first shared on 29th May as one of the 10:30am Daily Devotionals]

CS Lewis - Fair Use - WikipediaEarly in 1941 CS Lewis, who was one of the most respected and influential writers of his day, gave a series of talks on BBC radio. At that time Britain was at war, which had caused many people to reconsider important issues of life and death. In Lewis's opinion Britain was already a post-Christian country. He was convinced that while many people believed that they had rejected Christianity, having already tried it, the reality was that they had not, in fact, experienced true Christianity in any real way. Thus he set about trying to show them that what they were missing was actually the good news of Christ Jesus.

The material for those radio talks ... found their way into ... ‘Mere Christianity’

The material for those radio talks eventually found their way into one of Lewis's most-read and most-loved books, ‘Mere Christianity’. One chapter of the book deals with theme of Hope, something that might seem to be in short supply at the moment. But for the Christian that ought not to be the case. Lewis starts by arguing that the human longing for heaven, the longing for a perfect future is not escapism, but it's actually very proper. This doesn't mean that Christians don't care about this world. In fact, as Lewis points out, throughout history the future hope of Christians is what has caused them to leave their very positive marks on the world. Think of the abolition of slavery as just one example.

For many people the idea of heaven doesn’t have any particular attraction for us. Lewis suggests some reasons for this. For most of our lives, including almost all of our education, we have been conditioned to focus on life in this world only. So while it's true that mankind has an instinctive desire for something like heaven, many of us don't recognize it as such. We think our desires can be satisfied in this world if only we can get life right. But ultimately our strongest desires can and will only be satisfied in heaven.

We blame others for the things that disappoint us.

Lewis suggests three possible ways people might respond to this fact. The first response is what Lewis calls the fool’s way. We blame others for the things that disappoint us. The disappointing marriage is our spouse's fault. The disappointing career is the job’s fault or the boss’s fault, and so on. And we spend the rest of our lives changing cars, houses, careers, friends, and even wives or husbands, whatever we think will finally deliver satisfaction.

people who ... go through life not expecting too much

The second response to the disappointments of life is what Lewis calls the way of the disillusioned. These are the people who like to think of themselves as life's realists. They see themselves as having grown up. They've stopped chasing rainbows. They go through life not expecting too much from it as a way of coping with, and surviving, the disappointment.

But, says Lewis, supposing infinite happiness really is there waiting for us. In that case it would be a pity to find out too late, a moment after death, that by our supposed common sense we had stifled in ourselves the faculty of enjoying what was there for us.

That leads us, thirdly, to the Christian way. The Christian response to life's disappointments is to recognize that creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. So, just as a baby desires food and there is such a thing as food, so as life continues all our other desires in life have ways of being satisfied, but not necessarily in this world. As Lewis says in one of his most famous quotes:

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 prove 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.

I find this all so helpful. Especially at the present moment we all need a future hope. Whether we consider ourselves Christian or not, we are all looking forward to the day when the Covid-19 issue is behind us. We long to be able to go out without restrictions. We look forward to meeting any number of friends for a coffee or for dinner again. We want to be able to take a walk wherever, or with whomever, we please. I can't wait for the day when we can throw open the doors of our church buildings and meet together in person. Again it's going to be wonderful, but if we lose hope of ever being able to do these things again we're not going to cope too well with this season.

These desires we have should focus our hearts on their ultimate satisfaction in glory with Christ Jesus

These desires we have should focus our hearts on their ultimate satisfaction in glory with Christ Jesus. What are you missing most right now, seeing friends and family, eating a meal with someone other than yourself, getting out into the great outdoors, being with the Lord's people, God willing we will do all of this and more again soon. But we won't find ultimate satisfaction in any of these things after Covid-19 any more than we did before. It will still be imperfect as will be our relationships. Our church communities will still be works in progress.

But if, right now, you feel the sadness of absence, then let it lift your eyes to the ultimate fulfilment of all our desires - to eternity with Christ Jesus when we will see him as he is, and will enjoy him and each other perfectly.

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Daily Devotional - 29th May

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