What makes us think that there is more? What draws us to believe at all in the existence of a perfect day when the best we’ve experienced has always died with the setting sun? We daily digest the anger, confusion and frustration the world deals us, seasoned with moments of hope, love and joy, and the result, the “inconsolable heartburn,” as Capon names it, is “the lifelong disquietude of having been made in the image of God.”
We bow over in mental anguish at the pain of desire in wanting what is not, but once was and will be again. In the core of us is the DNA of the Cosmic Lover, pulling us toward hope. Pulling us toward love without walls.
The still beauty of every imperfect flower, the gentle touch of a lover, the sweet of chocolate and of worship, all of them merely excite our appetites with the faint smell of perfection. That yearning can turn to lust—to be filled with more and more of the empty calories of one experience after another. The want for perfect food, love and worship can lead to gluttonous consumption of more imperfection, thinking that enough parts can be amassed to create a whole. But there’s never enough.
But that yearning can also lead us right where it points—to God.
C.S. Lewis said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Hopelessness as an Invitation to Hope
Even our flesh and soul cry out for release from this imperfection. And that is only one of a myriad of ways in which our Father doggedly pursues us. And if we find ourselves at his feet, we find a future. But all of our preconceptions about this life are turned on their heads. As he takes us in his arms, swinging us about in dancing joy, he reveals in a sing-song voice of delight a planet in which the worst of us are forgiven just as easily as those who lived quiet lives of peace. Where the lazy, who only showed up at the end of the day, get paid the same as the hard-worker who bore the heat of the day.
It’s a place where enemies are loved and angry slaps are rebuffed with the offer of the other cheek. Whores and thieves become God’s closest friends, and religious professionals plot to decimate his will.
Man has created gods who pettily attack man and arbitrarily kill for their own satisfaction. That makes sense. What would make us think there was ever a God who would die in our place? Who would love us while we hated him?
Why do we hope for better?
C.S. Lewis also wrote that hunger presupposes the existence of food. What then does our hunger for more presuppose?