“He [God] has planted eternity in the human heart …“ Ecclesiastes 3:11b (NLT)
One spring, our family hosted a 10-year-old Russian foreign exchange student. He went to school with my son and got a taste of what the American Christian family is all about. Alex’s English was very limited, and we depended on hand signals and facial expressions to get by.
On one occasion, I was trying to get him to write a letter to his parents. I pulled out the stationery, handed him a pen, and then pointed to a picture of his mom and dad. “Why don’t you write a letter to your parents,” I suggested. He had no idea what I was talking about.
For 20 minutes, I drew pictures and tried to get him to understand what I wanted him to do. Finally, with tears in his eyes, he looked up at me and said, “What do?”
I just hugged him and put the pen and paper away.
Oftentimes I feel like our little foreign exchange student. I see beauty mingled with pain and suffering and wonder … What do? I feel close to God but not close enough, and I cry … What do? I see glimpses of God’s presence, but the ache never quite goes away completely, and I pray … What do? I worry about the future and fret about the present and whisper … What do?
Yes, there are Bible verses that help steady our feet, but the ache for something more, something different, will never completely go away this side of heaven. The Bible says we are aliens and strangers in this world in which we temporarily live. (1 Peter 1:1b, 2:11) Our real citizenship is in heaven, and we’re just passing through this wonderful, sometimes painful thing called life.
Solomon reminds us, “He [God] has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b). We were made for eternity, for glory, and as long as our feet are here on this earth, we’ll experience a glory-ache that only heaven can fully satisfy. We will always feel a certain something missing that may be hard to define.
Another translation of Ecclesiastes 3:11b reads, “He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy],” (AMPC). Not until we see Jesus face-to-face will the lingering ache completely subside. I can almost hear the collective “Ahhhh” to come when we believers exhale our last earthly breath and inhale eternity for the first time.
I hope that makes you feel better. It certainly does me. For the longest time, I felt there was just something wrong with me … that I was fatally flawed because I never felt total peace. “What do?” echoed in my heart as I tried to figure out my problems — why I had that unrest in my soul. But now I realize total, sustainable, uninterrupted peace will never come this side of heaven. We simply get glimpses.
But glimpses come, and they go. The choir stops. The sunset fades. The rose drops its petals. The kiss ceases. Thunder quiets. The wind stills. The stars disappear. We want to live in a constant state of awe, but we can’t. Our human limitations won’t allow it. Our minds, our bodies, our emotions couldn’t contain it. The circuitry of our humanity would overload.
Even Moses had to hide in the cleft, and he was only allowed to see God’s back as His glory passed by. (Exodus 33:18-23).
I wish I could give you a big hug right now. I could use one myself. Here’s my encouragement for you today. You are a child of God who is completely loved, completely forgiven and complete in Christ. And on those days when you feel like something’s missing, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t get swallowed up in guilt because you’re not totally satisfied — like something’s missing. It is! You’re not home yet. Until then, let’s savor the moments when God’s presence is strong and look forward to the day when there will be nothing missing at all.
Heavenly Father, sometimes I’m so discouraged because I just don’t know what to do with that ache for something more — that gnawing feeling I’m missing something in my relationship with You. Help me remember that this world is not my home. Help me not feel guilty or discouraged when nothing satisfies the ache, but to look forward to when every longing will cease. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
John 14:2-3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (NIV)
Revelation 21:4, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV)
Sharon Jaynes’ devotion was adapted from her book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More. Looking for more in your marriage (or a friend’s)? Check out Sharon’s new heart-stirring release, Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage, and Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon.
Visit Sharon’s website to watch the Lovestruck book trailer and find free videos about key lessons from the Song of Solomon to strengthen your marriage.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What are some ways you feel like an alien in this world?
How is it comforting to you to know this world is not your home? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
© 2019 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.