What do we do with longings? No really, what does the Christian do with unfulfilled dreams? We all have them, yet is it okay to have them? After all, the Bible says we’re to be content with what we have. The apostle Paul (via the Holy Spirit) says in 1 Timothy 6:6–8, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
Okay, cue the guilt, right? Because I’m not content with just food and clothing. I want more. I want my dreams to come true, my hopes to be fulfilled, and my prayers to be answered. I’ve tried, but I can’t just toss my deepest longings out the window. They’re steadfast, no matter what I do, clinging to me like a shirt I just shrunk in the dryer. (Which I happen to be notorious for.)
So am I in the wrong? Not for the shirt shrinking, mind you, but for the deep longings I carry? The dreams that remain present yet continue to go unfulfilled?
No, I am not in the wrong. I am normal, and I am human.
You Are Not the Only One
The Bible is filled with stories of deep longing. Abraham and Sarah longed to have a child of their own, as did Rachel and Hannah and Elizabeth, just to name a few. Job longed for God to rid him of his suffering. David longed for God to rid him of his enemies. The apostle Paul longed to be reunited with Timothy, his beloved child in the faith (2 Tim. 1:4). And get this, in His high priestly prayer, even Christ expressed His longing for us to be with Him always (John 17:24).
Yet the temptation to believe God has forgotten us, that our prayers are flying out the window unheard, and that God is withholding something good from us can be strong when our longings remain unfulfilled. And the devil would love nothing more than to deceive us into thinking such things, because nothing could be further from the truth.
God loves us. He proved this long ago when He planned and executed His own Son’s crucifixion to redeem us, a sinful people. (What parent would do that?) He is for us, not against us. Always. And believing that God is still for us, even as our hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled, is the bedrock of faith. Trusting God is still paying attention when we feel unheard—that’s where it’s at, my friend.
The truth is, if we didn’t long for more, then we wouldn’t long for God. If the pleasures or circumstances of this world could fully satisfy us, we’d never seek for the satisfaction of God’s perfect presence. Instead, we’d wave it off because we’re full. No thank you, I’m all done. And oh how sad that would be, when in His presence dwells the absolute fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).
Our Longings Keep Us Longing
It’s not wrong to long for something, except for when it is sin-filled. (Then we must cast it off like a dirty shirt for the better and more holy way.) But to hope for a full home or a full heart or to be more fully loved is how God made us. It’s what drives us to pray and seek the Father. It’s what puts us on our knees and humbles us in the throne room of heaven.
The problem comes when we let the unfulfilled dreams sitting within our hearts be the only thing we’re willing to look at. This is all I want. This is all I need. Because that’s not true. Whether it’s a dream that will bring glory to God or not, what we most need is Jesus. He is the author of our satisfaction and the giver of joy. He is salvation and the fulfillment of our deepest longings. Christ is who we were made for, the One who completes us, and the only One who can fill us—not a dream or a change in circumstances or an accomplishment
If Christ is not what we most long for, then no matter the outcome of a situation, we will be disappointed. All that is good and right and excellent and praiseworthy is found in Him. Psalm 84:10 says, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Why? Because there is nothing more wonderful than being with God.
Yet we still have hopes and dreams for this life. All of us. I know this because I too have dreams that I believe God put in my heart. So how can I be content with where I’m at while a God-sized dream remains in my heart?
I Keep My Eyes Fixed on Him
I used to think contentment was something I could conjure up. Just try a little harder, Stacey, or wait a little longer. But that’s not how it works. Contentment is not the result of finding hiding places for all my dreams or finally receiving what I’ve been hoping for. Contentment is the result of seeking Christ above all else.
It’s found when I focus my attention on the One who wants me, not when I get what I want. When I allow Christ to fill me with His desires and His Word and His love, contentment comes knocking on my heart.
Chasing God and not dreams is where we’ll find it. Worshipping in the wait and believing God is who He says He is despite our circumstances is the foundation of knowing contentment. When we surrender to the LORD and His will, we lay claim to trust and gain ground in the right direction.
Even when things aren’t going as we’d hoped or planned, we can trust God is still writing the story because He is faithful to every one of His children. God does not play favorites, nor is He forgetful.
The Lord Has Not Left You and Will Never Forsake You
Second Chronicles 20:20 says, “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” My friend, we can have unfulfilled hopes and dreams and yet know contentment because we can walk through this life in the presence of our faithful God.
And there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing God and nothing more joy-filling than abiding in Christ (John 15:11). But are we willing to believe that Christ is what we most need? I think that’s the real question.
Even if our earth-bound dreams remain unfulfilled, contentment is possible when we seek the One who is not bound by anything, who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, and who can fill us with a satisfaction like nothing else can, as He graciously fills us with Himself.
So seek the LORD while you wait, knowing that God’s still in it. And be expectant, not for your every whim to be fulfilled, but for God to fill you with the deep satisfaction of knowing Him. Bravely believe that He is enough and contentment will find you, my dear sister, even as you long for more.