Joy of Every Longing Heart

“Joy of every longing heart…you find us where we are…waiting for you.  Love to make the broken whole…you rescue every soul waiting for you.”  Those are phrases from Faith’s 2013 Christmas musical. The celebratory title song is found here.

The Christmas message of joy and love in Christ is only intensely experienced as such by those who recognize that they are in a joyless, loveless condition—those “waiting” and “longing.”

The good news of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s account went first to the shepherds (Luke 2:8ff).  Why did the message go first to the shepherds and not the movers and shakers of Israel’s elite ruling class? A clear answer comes when we gain an accurate view of the shepherds. Often we have a highly romanticized perspective of shepherds because of our industrialized culture.  We think of shepherds as nice, gentle old men with long snow-white beards, holding cute little baby lambs in their hands.  The reality is that the good tidings of great joy came first to the dishonest, unclean outcasts with grungy beards—those needing the message most (Stein, Luke New American Commentary, 108).

In Luke 2:25, the great exuberance of Simeon came as he saw Jesus because he was looking for the consolation of Israel.  He had been in mourning—looking for comfort—and then Simeon found Him. The exalted thanksgiving of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:38) came upon beholding Jesus after she had been waiting for redemption, serving night and day with fasting and prayers.

The shepherds were satisfied.  Simeon was satisfied. Anna was satisfied. Joy to every longing heart.  What are you longing for?  What are you desiring?  What do you believe would make you happy?

Friends?  Companionship?  A Spouse?  A Spouse Who Loves Me?

“If I just had a companion then I would be happy!”  Pressing a little deeper beyond the surface of these desires reveals a greater longing—the desire to belong or the desire for intimacy in a world of alienation.  Deep intimacy and belonging originally were present with God in the Garden of Eden but now seem to escape us.

More!  More Pleasure?  More Sex?  More Thrills? More Food?  More Entertainment?

“If I just had more, then I would be happy!” We are forever lusting after the next thrill in using others or things to please ourselves.  From insatiable and escalating sexual thrills to extreme and dangerous sports, we must experience everything.  Is this longing speaking to a deeper sense of incompleteness that we innately feel?  “Shalom” is the Hebrew word that captures the wholeness that God desires for all of us and was present in the beginning but now seems to elude us.

Peace? Calmness?

“I just want a little peace. That would make me happy.”  Everything seems to be spinning out of control—out of control kids, out of control marriage, out of control finances, out of control government.  The longing for peace and stability reflects our innate understanding that this world is broken, hurtful, out of control. We long for blessedness in relationships and in a world system that actually works for the edification of people based upon righteousness and justice.  That blessedness did exist originally in the Garden of Eden in the presence of God, but now it also seems to be out of everybody’s reach.

Respect? Power to Influence?

“If more people just respected me, then I would be happy.  That is why I climb the corporate ladder.  That is why I accumulate possessions.  That is why I exalt myself in front of all.”  At the core of this longing is a skewed identity of who we are.  We are longing to be somebody in the eyes of all and that becomes our purpose in life.  We deeply long for significant purpose.  Again originally, God gave us a divine purpose that was satisfying and fulfilling in the Garden of Eden in His presence.

Health?

“If I just had health.”  Every one of us is hurtling inescapably toward death.  We sense this and our true desire is for abundant life.  Abundant eternal life existed in the presence of God in the beginning. Now death reigns.

Satisfying Our True Longings

Behind all the surface desires of humanity is a longing for intimacy with God and others, wholeness, blessedness, purpose, and abundant life. The fulfillment of these deep seated longings is only found in the presence of our Creator. But being in the presence of our Creator is impossible because of our sin that separates mankind from God. Thus we are forever destined to continue longing and masking our true longings by the temporal pleasures of the world (drugs, alcohol, sex, food, power, possessions, use of people for their praise of me).  Do not let the desires for these temporal, earthly things mask the deeper realities.  You need intimacy with God.  You need wholeness. You need blessedness.  You need purpose.  You need abundant life.   When you realize that these are the greater yearnings of your heart, and when you see and accept Jesus as the way back to the presence of God there will be joy inexpressible to your longing heart.

Brent AucoinBrent Aucoin
Pastor Brent Aucoin serves as the Pastor of Seminary and Counseling Ministries at Faith Church. He is the president of Faith Bible Seminary, and is a counselor and instructor for Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.
  • Sam

    Nice summary of our common inner cravings. We can conceptually understand the problem with the idols (they consume us into a life of destruction) and the solution (the Gospel..comfort and joy in Christ) but why is it so hard to change? Change is hard because:
    1. A lack of the fear of God. As God’s holiness shines on my heart, I fail to see that I am an unholy, weak, helpless, unworthy sinner apart from His grace. Instead I see that I sin, but am not that bad.
    2. A lack of an understanding of the Gospel. When I do not get my idols I am angry/proud/discontent with God and others. I am just ready to give others a good hard kick. The gospel helps me see that I do not deserve anything but what I do deserve is God’s eternal wrath which is much worse than all that I suffer now. I am not better than anyone but am a sinner just like everyone else. God’s undeserved love, grace, and mercy enables me to see clearly again with a heart of gratitude resulting in love, grace, and mercy towards others. So I joyfully abide in Christ as my identity, purpose, and goal for His glory.
    3. A life of faith in one’s own wisdom and strength. I live by self-sovereignty (I pretend that God is not there and keep following my will thinking that I will not experience sinful consequences) and self-sanctification (all I need to do is try harder to obey the next time to obtain a righteousness of my own vs. sanctification by grace induced by the Holy Spirit with my submission to obey).
    4. A lack of a moment by moment life of faith (trusting/depending/resting) in Christ alone for the grace and power to desire Him and obey His word through the Holy Spirit.
    4. A lack of knowledge of Jesus in both his character, life, and mighty works. Taste and see that the Lord is good is just not enough. The idols I crave and taking much time to know and be intimate with them are more delicious due to a lack of an intimate knowledge of and communion with Jesus.
    6. Lack of prayer (communion with God) and bible study (sanctified by the truth). If God’s word is not in my mind and ruling my mind, what am I left with? My own thinking, my own will, my own desires that drive me to sin.
    7. Lack of desire for God’s direction in my life…pursuing a life of holiness. I live a horizontal life with no vertical direction. Jesus does not rule my life, I do.
    8. A lack of daily repentance resulting in a hardened heart where idols take root and break fellowship with God and others. Sanctification is a daily process. It’s hard work and a test of true saving faith where I not only have godly sorrow for my sin but turn to God in obedience by His grace and power.

    • Brent Aucoin

      Excellent Sam. Thanks for the follow up.