“She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her. . . . I called to my lovers, but they deceived me” (Lamentations 1:2, 19, ESV).
Jesus told us Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn. 10:10), but we don’t believe him. We think we know better. God created us to love him, to have fellowship with him, and to enjoy him. He promises us life. He promises to satisfy us eternally, yet we run from him, into the arms of other “lovers.” In Lamentations, the “lovers” are those who promised the nation of Israel that they would be there to help her militarily. They never showed up. Repeatedly God told Israel through his prophets to trust in him, to not rely on foreign nations for help. Alas, they didn’t listen.
And neither do we. For some reason, we think we know better than God. We think we’re capable of running our own lives. God tells us over and over again that He’s the only one big enough to satisfy all that our hearts so desperately long for (Ps. 16:11, 107:9; Jn. 4:14, 7:37). Try as we might, we’ll never be able to satisfy eternal longings with temporal pleasures. We have a God-shaped hole inside us and the only one big enough to fill that void is the triune God. Or, to use Blaise Pascal’s (1623-1662) words, “the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God himself.”
Get this as well: The Bible defines sin as “lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4), and that’s true. But we can also say that sin is faithlessness. “Our base problem is unbelief,” as theologian Cornelius Plantinga says. Failing to believe that God will satisfy us, we try to find life in our achievements; we try to justify our existence through accomplishments; we try to find life in a romantic relationship; we try to live vicariously through our children and grandchildren. Rather than believing God will provide for us and meet our needs, we live anxiously. Rather than forgiving others as God has forgiven us in Christ (Eph. 4:32), we exact a pound of flesh on everyone who crosses us. Rather than believing God has forgiven us because of Christ’s work on the cross, we try to earn acceptance with God through self-salvation projects. This either leads to devastation when we finally realize we’re not good enough after repeated failures; or, it leads to pride because we actually come to believe (incorrectly, I might add) that we are better than everyone else.
Whereas Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy, Jesus came that we might have life (Jn. 10:10). If we want life, therefore, we must come to Christ. And it must be on his terms: broken, repentant, and humble (Ps. 51:17). Additionally, we must come to realize that giving our lives away in service to Jesus is the good life. Many people throughout history have sought the good life. Some thought it was found in salacious sensuality while others believed it was secured through self-abasement. Only Jesus has the correct answer: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:34). In loving and serving others we find the purpose for which God created us. Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) put it this way: “It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. . . . [W]e are to spend and to be spent, not to lay ourselves up in lavender, and nurse our flesh.” God redeemed us so that we might do good works in his name. This has been his plan from all eternity (Eph. 2:10). The good news is that God’s grace is working in our lives to bring these good deeds to fruition (Phil. 2:12-13). May we see the practical effect of our love for God in moving us to serve him in ways that reveal his greatness and display his worth.