What do you do with a longing? (Part Two)

Given that longings are a part of us, the next question is, what part? That is, if we have longings (and we do) because we were made in God’s image (and we were), how do we deal with them, now that we are fallen creatures?

We saw last time that the wise path is neither to deny the longing, nor to seek blindly to fulfill it, but to think clearly about its legitimacy and what might be behind it. This is what Jesus did. Jesus, while He was among us, felt the disappointed longings of life (Heb. 4:15; 5:7, 8). He was misunderstood by parents (Luke 2:48-50), frustrated at the dullness of His disciples (Matthew 15:16; 16:8-11), grieved by death (John 11:34-38), and wearied by travel (John 4:6).

How did He summarize His life? What kept Him going? How did He characterize His mission? What was His life’s passion?

In a word, Jesus lived in total obedience to His Father. Obedience was His “food” (John 4:31-34). Think of it. Just as food strengthens us and sustains us to live another day, obeying God was His nourishment. But this means that obedience to God was not repulsive.

On the contrary, God’s will was His will, so much so that did all out of love (John 5:30; 6:38; 14:31). He hungered to please God, and found satisfaction in obedience. Isn’t satisfaction what you feel after a healthy, hearty meal?

That’s not all. There was love, but also joy, the only thing ultimately powerful enough to sustain a true longing! Jesus was the Messiah who would “delight to do” God’s will (Psalm 40:4) as the ultimate “righteous one” who delighted in God’s Law (Psalm 1:2).

How does this relate to us? This kind of joy-in-obedience was what He came to give all of His disciples. He even prayed it for us in John 17:13. The Apostle John understood this well, reminding us not only that obedience characterizes God’s child, but also that such obedience is not burdensome (John 5:3, 4). Of course not, for how could a loving God’s will be anything ultimately but joyful?

O Lord, we gain only despair when we try to fulfill our longings through means you have not ordained. Help us, Father, to fulfill our longings in you like Jesus did, and obey you unto joy! Amen.

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