By Jamin Roller
My freshman year of college, one of our assignments was to read Confessions by St. Augustine. It took me a long time to get through, mostly because I often got lost in the old English translation I bought from the used bookstore. The most well-known words of the book come on the very first page when Augustine prays, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Those words returned to my mind when I read today’s title and the title of our Advent reading plan: “Joy of Every Longing Heart.” As humans, we have a shared condition of the heart. What the song calls “longing” and Augustine calls “restless” is the universal human experience of an empty heart looking to be filled by something or someone. Our hearts long. Our hearts are restless.
The Christian claim that we find in the passages we read is that our longing can only be satisfied in Jesus Christ. The rest we seek, we only find in the Lord. He and He alone is our “portion and cup of blessing” (Psalm 16:5).
I often try to find satisfaction for my longing in things other than Jesus. I look for it in people, expecting my wife, children, or friends to do what only Jesus can do for me. I look for it on the other side of circumstantial change, believing the lie that I am one job, financial, or relational change away from restlessness fading. I look for it in numbness, trying to let the noise of social media, binge-watching television or indulgent eating drown out my longing heart. You and I both know how fruitless and empty all of that is. We never find what we are looking for when we look in the wrong places.
These verses call me to a better kind of longing and a truer place to find rest. First Peter 1:8 serves as a kind of course-correcting truth in the search for satisfaction. Though I have never seen Jesus, I do love Him. Though I have not seen Jesus, I do believe in Him. I believe about Him that He alone can satisfy the heart. I believe His promise from John 16 that one day I will see Him and, on that day, my heart will be free of any restlessness and full of rejoicing. In the presence of our risen and reigning Lord, all longing will give way to eternal joy.
I am grateful for an Advent season that reminds my heart to long for Jesus. I pray yours does too.