What do we hope for in life? Relationships, money, fulfillment, family, friends, a better life? All these things are temporary. These are not bad things, but we understand that these things have an end. Like a flower or a sunset, the beauty and life it gives can lift our souls, but the light fades and the petals fall and turn brown. These hopes bring us life but ultimately falls short.
We know even while entrapped in a melody of angelic voices, or the embrace of a lover, or the cover of a million stars, that there is an end. No matter how long we put a song on repeat or how many hearts we meet, our hearts beat for much more. Something not ephemeral, rather something everlasting. Why else are we gluttons, sex and porn addicts, hopeless romantics, or sloths? We want to preserve a feeling of blissful emotions. But preserving temporal things makes it rotten. It makes us sick and diseased.
I write this with a heavy heart because I do long for these temporal things and this longing has made me sick. But I want them. In some cases, I feel like I need them like I need food and drink. When hungry, there is food to satisfy the belly. When thirsty there in water to quench our bodies.
But when lonely, where is the company? When troubled, where is the family? When confused, where is the answer? These feelings are just as part of humanity as food or drink is. When one is lacking a father or mother, or the current father or mother is dysfunctional, how does one deal with this? This hole in their life that nothing can really fill. This hole can consume people’s lives, like hunger or thirst.
This is how I feel every day… I long for a functional family, for relationships, for sex, for answers. I’ve turned to quick fixes for these problems that leave me even more empty. I confess these longings because I know that you as a reader, and also humanity as a whole, are asking these questions day in and day out. We are aching for more. There must be more!
If this longing is within you, there are three possible routes that people choose to take. These three are taken from C.S Lewis “Mere Christianity”, section 3, chapter 10. I do not intend for this post to be all preachy, but simply as an observation of our human condition.
- The first route is the “fools route”. C.S Lewis explains it in this way
He puts the blame on the things themselves. He goes on all his life thinking that if only he tried another woman, or went for a more expensive holiday, or whatever it is, then, this time, he really would catch the mysterious something we are all after. Most of the bored, discontented, rich people in the world are of this type. They spend their whole lives trotting from woman to woman (through the divorce courts), from continent to continent, from hobby to hobby, always thinking that the latest is “the Real Thing” at last, and always disappointed
- The Way of the Disillusioned “Sensible Man.” is the second route
“He soon decides that the whole thing was moonshine. “Of course,” he says, “one feels like that when one’s young. But by the time you get to my age you’ve given up chasing the rainbow’s end.” And so he settles down and learns not to expect too much and represses the part of himself which used, as he would say, “to cry for the moon.” This is, of course, a much better way than the first, and makes a man much happier, and less of a nuisance to society. It tends to make him a prig (he is apt to be rather superior towards what he calls “adolescents”), but, on the whole, he rubs along fairly comfortably.”
- The Christian Way is the third way
The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. 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.
The third way is the hope in heaven where our longings will be satisfied. For those who scoff at the idea of a heaven, I don’t blame you. How do we know heaven exists? How can I hope in heaven, when there is so much crap on earth? Heaven is just a fairy tail to give people meaning and peace in life. These are some of the questions and ideas that pop into my mind that I’ve asked myself. These are difficult questions that I don’t have these answers right now. Theirs no proof or evidence of it. That is why we’re called to have faith and hope in. I recognize that this response is by far not sufficient for many of you. But I do have this picture of what it’ll look like if people set their hopes on heaven, rather than on earth.
First of all, looking towards heaven is not a form of escapism, where people fantasize about a perfect world in order to forget about the present. Rather it is a storing up treasure in heaven so that we become lights in this world.
All of the most effective Christians in history have set their hopes in heaven. They are willing to sacrifice what they have on earth for the greater good. They sacrifice their money, time, health, pride, and life for the sake of love because they see past their worldly possessions, and look into heaven, which is their reward.
Only those who are not consumed by the temporal things of this world can joyfully and freely give up their worldly possessions out of a true and selfless love for others. So imagine people not full of greed or selfish ambition. People who are willing to feed the poor or give to charity, not for people to praise them, but out of love. Humble individuals that are willing to be brothers or sisters to widows and orphans. These are the people that can fill the holes in our lives.
But none of this is possible if we view our iPhones or Cars or our own comforts as more precious than a human life. None is possible when we hold so tightly the temporary things and fulfillment that engulf our lives. When we are able to let go of our possessions and show love to others, we, in turn, gain this family, these friends, this love that this world is so starved for.
As C.S Lewis says ” Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.”