The Problem with Desire

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Desire is as much a part of each of us as our DNA. (I mean this in the broadest sense of the word desire.) I’m talking about the strong feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. I can see it in an infant just a few hours old.

 

Innately each of us comes hardwired with a desire to be held, nurtured, and nourished.

 

Most of us know and have read about how infants will fail to thrive or flourish if that doesn’t happen and the infant is only given a bottle to meet his or her physical need. There is a need for more…. a connection with another person.

 

Connection seems to be essential for us. Desire is planted deep within each of us.

 

One of my favorite authors is John Eldredge. In his book, The Journey of Desire, John makes a powerful statement:

 

“All our deepest longings require others to come through for us. Inevitably, someone stands in the way.”

 

 Those desires and longings clearly mean someone else needs to choose to respond to us to be the one who supplies us with what we wish or to get out of the way and not be a hindrance to our achieving that wish.

 

Often we discover the world around us cares far less for our wants and desires than we wish. It can seem as if indifference becomes our enemy. We are often faced with the reality that others may care less about our wants or desires. Flights get canceled for a long-planned for trip and no one seems to be able to “fix” it. Even our favorite barista can have a bad day and suddenly the long-awaited brew is not what we were so much looking forward to.

 

We are convinced a friend knows what we would love for our birthday. After all, we give her clues along the way, but our birthday comes and she remembers it without any of the evidence of the clues having been heard.IMG_1721

 

It can happen with husbands and children and we can be tempted to wonder if we are being ignored for who we are, what our longings and desires are. It can start to cause us to feel invisible.

 

If we are children, we pout, complain, rant, or cry. If we are adults, we try to suck it up and smile graciously and appear we are grateful and that it doesn’t matter.

 

We can sometimes get away with that outward expression for a period of time, but inside it begins to take a toll. The disappointment can lead to discouragement, frustration, depression, resentment, and bitterness. All of these start to close off our hearts, surround them with a moat and broken drawbridge, isolated by our own choice and decision to try to avoid more hurt.

 

Sometimes these same things result in one more log tossed onto the fire of our discontent that is growing within us and unexpectedly spews forth to a degree that can even shock us.

 

Of course, as believers seeking to be more like Him, we do not just rid ourselves of these longings and desires. We send them heavenward in prayer hoping or even trusting the One who loves us most will grant what we have asked whether it is to pass an exam, get a particular position, be healed of a disease threatening to take our life, or allow us to feel loved and cared for finally.

 

The problem with desire, wishing, and longing is it becomes more important than the one we believe can grant it. We put something ahead of someone.

 

 Can we cease to be human? Stop wanting, wishing, and longing? No, of course not, but we must take care to remember it was the struggle of the brightest angel in heaven and led to his fall when he could not let go of it.

 

The problem with desire is that we can allow it to rule us and control us.

 

 What is the answer then?

 

It can start with submitting to the Lord, yielding to Him, surrendering to His lordship and perfect love for us.

 

It can also bring us to Psalm 37:4:

 

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

 

 We need to be careful about what the verse is saying. It is NOT saying if we love Him, He will give us what we want. You see, if we look carefully at what it means to “delight” in the Lord, our understanding will grow to see it might be read more accurately in one of the following ways:

 

…Be gratified in the Lord

 

…Be captivated by the Lord

 

…Be entranced by the Lord

 

If we are these, will our attention be on our desire for something or on the Someone we have given our hearts to?

 

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20 thoughts on “The Problem with Desire

  1. Hi Pam, this echoes ‘Contentment’. Finiding content with what God has given us despite the desires we have we shold never lose joy over things we don’t have or expect to have.
    Blessings to you Pam

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  2. Pam I love this post very much. When we can let go of expecting others to know our innermost desires, we find a new freedom from bitterness and resentment. Thanks for sharing at Five Star Frou-Frou this week. Love, Mimi xxx

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  3. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”-My favorite scripture! Such a beautiful wisdom here! I’d love for you to share your heart for the Lord over at #FreshMarketFriday where we select a Featured Fresh Find every week!

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    1. I really agree – this verse hit me as I realized that if I focus on God, he will transform my desires into what they should be and then he can fulfill them!

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  4. Great post, Pam! Truly you have written words of truth. Psalm 37:4 is the verse I stood upon when going through the battles of infertility. Everyone says if you quit thinking about having a baby it will happen. That is really hard to do; but, what I found is that when I focused on delighting in the Lord, I really didn’t think about it so much. In our tenth year of marriage, the Lord blessed us with the birth of our daughter, and by year 17, we’d birthed three!

    You are so right, we can’t put our desire for something ahead of our love for God.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jerralea! Thanks so much for sharing your story here. Our daughter went through a period of secondary infertility after their first child was born and we were so aware of the challenges with that. Now she and her husband have four children!

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  5. Beautiful and encouraging piece. The best relationships are found when two souls who are captivated by Jesus find one another.

    Your words reminded me of a homeless man I met while in college. I was headed to a cafe with my best friend and he was just outside. We invited him to join us for the meal and listened to his story of love, loss, and heartache. At the end of the meal, I felt the Lord prompting me to give him a hug (way outside my comfort zone). But when I did, tears filled his eyes, and he said it was the first time someone had touched him in months.

    I will never forget the power of touch that I learned through that experience.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah, for your gracious encouragement about this piece. I love your story! You are so right! I am very much aware of how so many who lose a spouse or who are single appreciate the touch of a safe/healthy hug and often they never receive them as well.

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