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Why God is the Only One Who Ultimately Satisfies

For too many, the title of this article alone is a reality check. We’re so prone to run after all kinds of activities, material possessions, people and more in hopes of feeling fulfilled that we often completely miss the point of life itself. That is, our ultimate fulfillment can only be found in God alone.

Secretly, we hope the newest rainbow we’re chasing will finally deliver the pot of gold we’ve illusively sought our entire lives. But it still hasn’t and time’s running out. We’ve pursued other rainbows since we were old enough to desire happiness. Each eventually turned out to be a dead end regardless of the duration of its desirability. With each new pleasure pursuit, we thought this would be the one to cause our problems to die away, ushering in a utopian existence for the foreseeable future.

We did all of this while God, too often, took the back burner. But there was just enough pleasure along the path to disappointment that most of us were ready to go back for more. Once again, we were prepared to travel one of the many, many roads to guaranteed disappointment.

What is the difference this time? We just may choose a different dead-end road than the one we’ve been taking lately. Mixing it up can’t hurt, right? In the case of dead-end roads, mixing it up can actually hurt. Sure, the scenery may be a bit different along the path to futility but, one day, you’ll again wake up frustrated. Dead-end roads, after all, aren’t capable of taking you anywhere new (or meaningful).

We like roads that look and feel comfortable and that’s exactly the nature of dead-end roads—at least initially. The only path that isn’t a dead end, however? At first, it appears weed-choked and constricting compared to how the dead-end roads start. That path is the way to God but few travel far on it because of how homely it looks and how hard it seems at the start. But, eventually, the path to God leads to magnificence, enlightenment and true life. Not to mention a love that will never be comprehended, even with an eternity of trying to understand its infinite richness and depths.

Why God is the Only One Who Ultimately Satisfies

Are You Tired of Chasing Dead-End Roads?

Some chase pointless pursuits until the day they die and leave this earth without ever achieving a relationship with God. Others, genuine children of God, forfeit the ability to be used for God’s kingdom to the fullest extent. They miss out on the closeness to God they could have because they’re always wandering off and doing their own thing.

Some of us are so prone to chasing created things rather than the Creator that when we hear, “only God ultimately satisfies,” we’re tempted to think saying so is merely a figure of speech. With concrete scriptural support, however, I can tell you it definitely isn’t a figure of speech. His fulfillment is more real than real—so much greater than any of the gifts He’s given or our misuse of them.

Some of our attempts to feel better aren’t necessarily wrong. God created a lot of good in the world He wants us to enjoy. The problem comes when we directly violate God’s commands in a futile attempt to “improve our lives” and feel more fulfilled. Or, more subtly, when we unknowingly or carelessly place the good aspects of this life God created above the Creator of those good things. God-given gifts to humanity find their fullest meaning when God is at the center of our lives. When God isn’t our top priority, chasing after those gifts becomes a delusional, disappointing and grotesque pursuit.

The Fulfillment Delusion

God’s keeping something from you.” Too often, we hear our internal voice whisper something similar deep in our hearts. But, the question to ask is this: “Does that internal dialogue always come from you? Does that internal dialogue always come from me?” Or, is this sometimes the voice of our enemy, the devil?

God’s holding out on you,” is the lie we’re fed so often we may fail to hold it in check. Pray, tell me, what would a perfectly good and loving God do that for? We’re extremely limited in our understanding. We have a completely different way of viewing life than God does. And, because of that, there are times we figure God’s “out to lunch” instead of being involved in our lives. Since God doesn’t always do things as we want, we’re tempted to take the reins and do it our way.

At its core, sin is the natural progression and outworking of distrust in God. We want to feel fulfilled. So, what do we do? We begin to worry that God is holding out on us and that He doesn’t have our best interest in mind because our life isn’t going as we planned. As a result, we make our own plans to the exclusion of God.

This grass-is-greener syndrome has a long, storm-cloud-laden history among humans that goes back thousands of years. All the way back to paradise, in fact. Paradise became paradise lost because of that craving. And, even today, we lose out because of a similar way of living.

Humanity’s First Attempts to Find Ultimate Fulfillment Apart from God

We have to go back to the Garden of Eden to see where things went horribly wrong for humanity and their attempts at ultimate fulfillment apart from God. Adam and Eve had it all. They were given each other, had paradise free of even an ounce of pain and lived out a unique, face-to-face relationship with God. It was a life we don’t come close to experiencing today because we live in such a sin-cursed world. God walked with his children in the cool of the day and interacted with his image-bearers as we do with other people.

Imagine the extreme pleasure and happiness of literally walking and talking with your Maker without fear of judgment and in complete perfection! To have right next to you the One who matters most and can fulfill the deepest longings of your soul like nothing and no one else can!

Even with all of that (something many people today would give everything they have to attain), it wasn’t enough. At least that’s how it seemed in the minds of Adam and Eve. But the initial temptation to doubt and distrust God didn’t come directly from them. It came from Satan speaking through a serpent, as we’ll see.

God gave only one rule to Adam. He and Eve could eat fruit from any tree in the Garden of Eden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam that if he ate from that tree, he would die. The command to not eat from the forbidden tree was given directly from God to Adam.

From what the text implies, it was Adam’s responsibility to warn Eve and pass that command on to her. It’s interesting and alarming that Satan went after the one who possibly didn’t receive a direct command from God about the forbidden fruit as Adam did. The devil feeds on any potential vulnerability he can find and goes after the person who possibly received “secondhand info”.

Here’s what Satan said to Eve that convinced her to disobey God:

“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Genesis 3:4-5

Eve, you won’t die if you eat that fruit. God’s holding out on you and lying. Sure, you’re pretty fulfilled now but imagine how much more you could be by doing things your way. You could even be like God in understanding!” That’s a pretty good paraphrase of what Satan said through the serpent. Like a slick salesman, he focused on what would be “gained” by disobedience to God instead of what would be lost. And Eve took the bait.

She ate the fruit because she wanted to be “like God” in a way that wasn’t authorized and because the fruit was attractive in appearance and tasty. The lie was especially compelling because it had some truth mixed in with it. Her eyes were opened to good and evil, but she couldn’t triumph over evil because of her now ruined and sin-filled state.

Ironically, Satan fed her the same lie that got him cast out of Heaven. Likely, sometime before the creation of our world, he attempted to overthrow God’s authority and take charge—a laughably foolish idea considering the unrivaled, infinite authority and power of God.

Jesus, being part of the Godhead from eternity past made mention of this event in the gospels. He said He saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. Satan’s desire to achieve forbidden glory and satisfaction caused God to exercise swift judgment on him and the angels who followed him, catapulting them out of Heaven in a millisecond.

Now, here were Adam and Eve, who lost perfection and became infected with the desires and afflictions of sin through the influence of an evil, fallen being. “Misery loves company” and, in this case, one fallen being clamored for the opportunity to cause another to fall. Satan is still alive and at work in the same way with people around the world today. His main goal is to tempt humanity to distrust God and turn from Him to their own destruction.

Sin, at its core, is the act of making war with God. It’s an attempt to take the steering wheel and exclude God in our lives to our own detriment. Adam and Eve’s initial sins were passed down from generation to generation after that. All creation suffers because of sin and this world often is anything but paradise.

In fact, the pain of this world can feel immense and unbearable. Our relationships sometimes become broken beyond repair, people we love tragically die, we get stuck in work that can make our lives miserable and the list goes endlessly on. What happens when we feel the many little pains that eventually add up to a plate full of grief or the big tragedies that knock the wind out of us? Either the pain of our lack of fulfillment causes us to run to or away from God. What will happen if your dissatisfaction causes you to run from God? Let’s take a look.

The Dangers of Dealing with the Pain of Sin with More Sin

Sadly, our fallen nature causes us to gravitate to the very thing that initially caused all of humanity’s grief—sin. For example, we may drown our sorrows with alcohol overuse in attempts to deal with the pain of living in a sinful world that’s full of tragedy. Although it’s possible we may feel better for a fleeting moment, the end result makes us feel anything but fulfilled.

We drain our finances, ruin our health, destroy our relationships and risk getting arrested for drunk driving or possibly even vehicular homicide. This is just one of so many examples of the downhill spiral of sin. Ironically, all of these attempts to find fulfillment apart from God only lead to greater and ever-deepening levels of disappointment (Not only for us but for everyone else who gets hurt in the process). If we don’t turn to God, we eventually experience eternal dissatisfaction.

A man (or woman) consuming too much alcohol only wants to feel better and find satisfaction in life. Because of sin, all they get is even more grief. The same goes for sex outside of marriage, overeating, attempting to control others and an ongoing effort to appear religiously devout without caring a bit about God.

In the same way, the following saying about lust could really apply to all sin:

Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst.”

When we attempt to find satisfaction apart from God, it’s like craving salt when we’re actually in desperate need of a glass of water. All of that satisfaction chasing apart from God won’t achieve fulfillment. Ironically, it’ll do the exact opposite. It will leave us unsatisfied, sure. But the worst part is it’ll only leave us with increased cravings and desires that we cannot fulfill.

You could also say:

Sin is the craving for godlessness of the man who is dying because of a lack of God in his life.”

That’s why a greedy person never has enough money. He may have millions but if he’s attempting to find ultimate satisfaction in his wealth as greedy individuals are prone, he will never be satisfied. He’ll always crave more and more money to the detriment of things more valuable than wealth, namely his personal health, reputation, human relationships and, most tragically, his relationship with God.

Looking for Satisfaction in all the Wrong Places

A perfect example of someone from the Bible who attempted to find fulfillment apart from God is the woman at the well in John 4:1-42. She often gets a bad rap because she, by Christian standards, was a morally loose, “guy-happy” woman. Jesus confronted the fact that she’d already had five husbands and that the guy she was with at the moment wasn’t even her husband. It’s possible she had many other relationships than the ones mentioned besides.

It could be easy to judge a woman like this, but there’s an important lesson for all of us here. We’re all prone to do the exact same thing as this woman did. We may not take the same dead-end path she did but there are myriads of other dead-end options that are just the same. We’re all prone to certain vices more than others.

For one, that could be thievery. For another, it may be the desire to appear morally superior. For yet another, it could be the desire to be viewed as highly successful in a career. What the woman’s failures and the rest of ours have in common are they are all pointless attempts to find fulfillment in life apart from God. Without God, every last one of them will disappoint.

The woman kept trying a new relationship to find satisfaction but it never worked out. Perhaps a different person, she thought. Nope, that didn’t work either, so she tried yet another one. Jesus drew some parallels to the woman’s disappointing “guy pursuits” by using an analogy right in front of them: drawing water from a well.

Jesus talks about spiritual water and this goes right over the woman’s head because she can only think of the physical realm. Jesus tells her there’s a type of water, so superior, that if you drink it once, you’ll never be thirsty again:

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’”

John 4:13-14

The woman says, “Hey, could you tell me where to find that water so I don’t have to keep drawing water from this well?” She completely missed the point of what Jesus was saying. Similarly, she kept trying to find ultimate fulfillment in imperfect image bearers of God (men) while failing to find ultimate satisfaction in God.

But she knows something is different when Jesus tells her everything she’s done, even the things she desperately tries to cover up. That sends her on an evangelistic pursuit and many people turn to God as a result. The woman at the well goes from repeatedly coming up empty in her fulfillment pursuits to finding the only One who ultimately satisfies. She finally sees God as a superior tradeoff as do many others living close by her.

This woman probably felt ashamed by her lifestyle (many believe this is evidenced by her drawing water during the heat of the day instead of the morning when others would be present). She lost her worries about what others thought when her life was changed by Jesus. It appears she came into a right relationship with God and that was all that mattered anymore.

Trading Out Your Trash for Treasure

Most households have board games such as Monopoly that include fake money. We all know there’s no way we could go to a store and use that imposter money at face value to purchase things we’re interested in. Those bills are obviously inferior to the real thing. Sure, you could go to the border of a country and change your money into a different currency at the correct rate, but that’s different. Both currency forms are recognized as having inherent value.

But what would you do if someone came to you and was interested in your fake money? Let’s say that, at face value, your fake money added up to $20,000 dollars, only numerically, of course. Imagine that a person interested in your fake money was willing to pay you $20,000 in actual money if you’d give them the fake stuff in return. Would you agree to the tradeoff? Sure, you would!

And yet, God offers something far greater than that but very few accept his offer! He offers you the option to trade out your temporary “riches” for eternal, real riches (Eternity with God). In essence, He says, “Bring me your trash (lack of fulfillment) and I’ll trade you treasure for it (true and lasting fulfillment).” There’s one little catch, however, and it’s a major hang-up for most. God will not give you his treasure (eternal riches) unless you give up your trash first (the things we’re tempted to believe are so valuable but, eternally speaking, are not).

Ultimate Fulfillment from God Only Happens Through Jesus Christ

As shared earlier, complete futility resulted from the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The shock waves of that fatal decision ripple through every fabric of society to this day. Ever since then, we’ve been tempted to try and make paradise for ourselves in a world that simply won’t allow for it. Still, we keep trying to build our “sand castles” hoping that, this time, they’ll last. Of course, they never do.

The truth is sin has completely ruined us. It has cut us off from the only way to ultimate fulfillment—God. We’ve all racked up a long rap sheet of sins. Worse yet, there’s literal Hell to pay at the end of this life without intervention from the only One strong enough to break the power of sin—Jesus. Also, our ability to deceive ourselves is so strong that, even once we become God’s children, too often, we give into the temptation to find satisfaction in our formerly futile ways.

God never provided a way for Satan and the fallen angels to be reconciled to Him. Perhaps the level of accountability was greater since they turned away from God despite seeing Him and interacting with Him in all of his heavenly glory. God did, however, take inconceivably drastic measures to bridge the broken relationship between himself and humanity. He knew the only way we’d ever experience ultimate satisfaction was through himself.

For that reason, He gave just that: himself. He sent his one and only Son into the world to be a perfect sin payment for those who would believe in Him for salvation. By his power, we can turn from our formerly hopeless way of living. No, you’ll never find ultimate fulfillment in life by chasing after inferior pursuits. Until you find a relationship with God, you’ll always come up empty.

Conclusion of the Matter: God is the Only One Who Brings Lasting Satisfaction

Psalm 73, a Psalm of Asaph, perfectly illustrates how much of a struggle it can be to find ultimate satisfaction in God, even for his children. In the Psalm, Asaph wrestles with the injustice of a nation that was supposed to be madly in love with God. Instead, for many, the prosperity and health of their bodies made them arrogant and cruel towards those they perceived as weak.

Asaph admits that he envied these godless individuals. It seemed like they didn’t have problems like everyday people and that they weren’t held accountable for their actions. It was like God turned his back on their injustice and ignored it.

Finally, Asaph has an eye-opening experience. He goes into the house of God and sees the terrifying end of the wicked—those who claim to know God but don’t. Those who use their religiosity to hurt people instead of healing them. How does Asaph describe God in that encounter? God is everything that matters—period. Let’s take a look at how he describes it:

“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:25-26

Even for a devout believer such as Asaph, having the proper perspective was sometimes difficult. He admits he felt like a frustrated animal because he was so upset that he couldn’t find the proper perspective. At last, the beautiful reality of his relationship with God breaks through and he sees God with powerful clarity.

All those things he envied about the arrogant wealthy—their riches and health—were completely pointless. Nothing on earth could come close to a right relationship with God. To have Him and nothing else was still to have everything. To have everything else without Him was to have nothing.

And, so, believers must face times of disillusionment and struggle to find the right perspective just as Asaph did. We still live in a fallen world and we’re told that we look at the promises of God as if through a dim looking glass. By faith, we move forward knowing that God is the only one who satisfies. For the time being, the “clouds of life” often make it difficult to see the Sun (God) as clearly as we’d hoped. During the times those clouds part, we see God’s glorious beauty making our God pursuits worth it.

And we look forward to the soon-approaching day when those clouds will part forever. We’ll always and forever be with our Lord and Savior then. Never again will we struggle to set our affections on the only One who can ultimately satisfy. He will be our everything and we will want nothing and no one else. He is all that matters in the end. And, soon enough, we’ll experience a depth of love we never thought possible!

Mary Jane Wackford

Thursday 14th of December 2023

Your articles are the most "eye-opening" that I have had the privileged to find. Thank you so very much.