Why Unmet Desires are Good

Lately, girls have been coming to me and sharing about their unmet desires. For a husband. For deep vulnerability. To be really know by another. For peace about the future. For certainty amidst none.

Unmet desires are painful. They hurt. We tend to think that we're "missing out", and often we compare what we think our lives look like to others. I think the pain that comes with unmet desires is real, and shouldn't be brushed aside. But they shouldn't overwhelm us either. Often the things that we deeply desire are actually good things! Having a husband is a good thing (Genesis 2:18). It's a good thing to be known and vulnerable with others (1 Samuel 18:1). And it's good to have peace and certainty (John 16:33).

So if these things are good for us, then why don't we have them? Why does God hold back? If God knows the desires of our heart, and like a Good Father, wants to give them to us, then why doesn't he? I think here it's important to realize that God does not withhold true good from us.

And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

Some important clauses in that verse are, those who love him, and those who have been called according to his purpose. So if we love God, and he has called us to live a life in line with his purpose and plan (and we are obedient in that), then we can know that God does not withhold true goodness from us. So then, why are unmet desires in our hearts for our good?

I think the real reason is surrender. God allows us to have unmet desires for the purpose of surrendering them to him. I'm currently reading through Humility and Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray, and I highly recommend it. I don't think I ever before realized the importance and key of humility in the life of Jesus, nor recognized how central it must be to my everyday life and interactions. It exposes my independent, selfish and prideful heart. Of wanting life to me about ME, yet the Bible and life of Jesus clearly display that life is really about GOD.

With unmet desires there can be two possible responses. The first, is that I focus so heavily on them that I feel I must have whatever I desires above anything else. I will sin to get it, and sin if I don't get it. Tim Keller calls this an idol and writes wonderful, insightful books that I highly recommend. The second response, is that I surrender these desires to God. Knowing that even though they may be good things, God is better. That our salvation and true life is found in humbly surrendering these things that our hearts deeply crave. God is totally in control and sovereign over my life. He knows my heart more deeply than anything or anyone.

Yet, don't make the drastic mistake of placing your hope in the future where these desires will be filled. Don't think, "well it's OK that I don't have a husband now, because in the future I will." Don't think, "well it's OK I don't have peace or certainty about what will happen next in life. One day God will make everything perfectly clear to me. Maybe I just need to try harder to have more faith." Wrong wrong wrong. It's perfectly probably that you could be single forever, and never feel a deep connection with anyone, or ever feel peace or certain about what's coming next. You may always feel discouraged, struggle with loneliness, or constantly compare your life to another.

Don't place your hope a future desired outcome. Place your hope in Jesus where you are right now.

Unmet desires (and the associated pain) force us into a place of deep surrender and humility before God. They remind us that our true hope is in Jesus and how he supplies all our needs in every moment. The growth and likeness of Christ that come when we learn how to surrender and to humble ourselves before God and others. That's growth God desires in us every day to make us more like him. What a joy to live like Jesus lived! The apostle Paul totally understood it when he said, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Living the Christian life should look more and more like Jesus every day. Jesus embodied true humility and surrendered everything to the Father, when he was born on earth and died on the cross.

So those unmet desires are simply opportunities every day to surrender and trust God more deeply. Our salvation is found in trusting and humbly submitting them to him. They are for our deep and eternal good.