Running Out of Numbing Solution: When Nothing in Life is Enough

emptiness

This has really been a tough season for me in so many different ways. I’ve never felt as low as I do right now, but I’ve never reached a greater epiphany than I have the past several days.

For the first time in my life, I’m experiencing what this whole theology of God being enough actually means.

I never believed it before.

Of course I would never say that out loud though.

God forbid I would actually share with someone that I don’t feel like God is enough.

But it’s real.

When I’m really honest with myself, I don’t think I’ve ever felt what it’s like for God to be enough for me.

Sure I try to make myself believe that He is.

I never directly think, God, You’re not enough for me.

My thoughts are much more clever and deceitful than that. My thoughts get me to trust in a feeling over what I know. I’ll think, Hmmm, maybe I’ll indulge in that and it will make me feel better. All the while, God is far from my mind in that particular moment of pleasure- indulgence.

It’s as if I’m saying, God might be enough…but if I had God and that then life would just be perfect.

I’ve been living with this mindset: God = happiness. But God + what I want = ecstatic happiness.

Uh oh.

This mindset is just not right.

I’ve never been convicted over it until now.

Inadvertently, my flesh has been tricking my mind into a pattern of running to something else in addition to God to make me feel better; therefore priming me to assume that God, by Himself, is not enough for me.

Even in my deepest moments or seasons of satisfaction in the Lord, I find myself running to pleasures that I just want to run to.

I can know everything there is to know about theology and the Bible, but if I feel a certain way, no amount of knowledge can change that. It just can’t. And I’m going to have to figure out a way to let my knowledge inform my feeling.

And for the past couple weeks I’ve been feeling really down.

I keep trying to medicate my feelings with things that usually make me feel better.

But this week has been difficult.

Something happened that has never happened quite as strongly before. It’s as if everything that I run to to make me feel better doesn’t work anymore.

This has never happened. Even in the past when I realize that something isn’t really enough there’s always something else. Or I end up going back to it again hoping that it will deliver like I want it to.

But this time, I can’t find anything to run to.

It’s all leaving me empty.

I have nothing anymore to numb my anxiety, my worry, my pain, to absolve myself of this emptiness I feel.

I’m running out of numbing solution.

Things that make me feel better. For me, it can be daydreaming, music, movies, busyness, lust, isolation, food, escaping… the list can go on and on.

But everything I’ve ran to over the past week hasn’t worked.

I keep having this thought: “…okay…what now? What did that solve?”

It didn’t fix my brokenness.

It didn’t heal me like I thought it would.

The weight of the brokenness of my life and the brokenness of this world is upon me right now. There’s so much pain here. So many people who need help. So many situations that just shouldn’t be. So many catastrophes in this world that don’t make sense. I see now that this life is not meant to satisfy me or anyone for that matter.

What’s the point of it all?

What is meant to satisfy us?

So I had an epiphany.

And while it has helped me drastically today, it also has potential to be depressing. So I have to make sure I articulate it correctly.

I’ve been looking at my life all wrong.

I keep looking for ways to satisfy myself.

Maybe that’s not the point.

Maybe I need to let go of that expectation to be satisfied.

Why?

Because I don’t have the fullness of what it’s like to have God be enough for me right now since I still live on the broken side of eternity.

I can’t get the full effect of what it’s like for God to be enough for me and be satisfied in Him right now in this life.

I have no clue what that will mean or what it will feel like.

Life is a constant reminder of what I don’t have. My body tells me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My mind tells me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My emotions tell me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My circumstances tell me that I don’t have enough to be happy. My pleasures aren’t enough. I see brokenness all around me.

Why?

All of that is pointing to something: a future hope.

Not a right-now hope.

A future hope.

Jesus coming back.

That’s it.

1 Peter 1:8 says, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” This is what I’m praying for myself and for others. That the hope of Jesus coming back would permeate every part of our lives with joy.

That is what I’m hoping in now.

Nothing else but Him.

I’m not hoping in this life to satisfy me anymore. I’m just not. I will focus on doing whatever He wants me to do for Him and striving to help somebody with whatever little I have left.

God wants me to understand something: nothing in this life is meant to be enough for me.

That’s why I’ve been coming up empty with everything I run to for pleasure.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this so strongly until now.

The promise of Jesus coming back one day is the only thing meant to be enough for us.

(Here are some verses talking about Jesus coming back: Matthew 24:30-31, 37-39; Luke 12:37-38; John 14:1-3; 1 Cor 1:7, 4:5; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13, 2:12; 2 Peter 3:2, 8-10; rev 1:7-8, 3:11, 16:15, 22:12-13, 20-21).

I love Revelation chapter 1. I can’t get enough of it. I want to see Jesus so badly. And not just see Him, but be with Him. Right by his side. I don’t care what I have to do I just want the chance to be with Jesus wherever He is at in the New Heaven and New Earth. I’ve spent enough time away from Him and I just need Him now so bad.

I’m realizing that all I really have in terms of lasting pleasure is the hope that Jesus is coming back soon. And God had to take me to an all-time low to get this.

So now I have a different equation in my mind: Hope of Jesus coming back = happiness.

All I have is this promise.

So I’m living on a promise.

The promise that He is indeed coming back.

And that means I don’t need any more numbing solution. If I feel pain, brokenness, worry, heartache, anxiety, etc, that’s just a product of this fallen world. It’s inevitable. I can’t numb it anymore.

Because in the moments of feeling the weight of it, I am actually postured to recognize that God Himself is the only hope I have…so I must wait on His Son to come back. And little by little, as I start to train my mind to embrace this new equation of the hope of Jesus coming back as being enough to make me happy, I know that I will start to be at peace. It is freeing me from an unattainable hope I had formerly placed in myself and in empty pleasures.

I pray for you in the broken parts of your life and in the pain that makes you run to things for pleasure. I pray for God’s spirit of freedom and of release. I pray that when we start to doubt the promise that Jesus is coming back for us that the Holy Spirit would remind our hearts what’s true. I pray for joy to fall from heaven. I pray for strongholds to be broken. In the name of Jesus, may we stop running to numbing solution for what’s painful in our lives and simply let the promise of Jesus’ return be enough to sustain us. Thank You, Lord, that You are coming back for us soon. And when it’s hard, Lord, please have mercy on our weaknesses. We wait for You.

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. 14 The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.”

-Revelation 1:12-19-

Questions for Today:

  • Is it easy for me to run to various pleasures to numb certain feelings or pain in my life?
  • What are those things?
  • Do I ever feel satisfied from it? Why or why not?
  • Why do I not feel the full effect of God being enough for me in this life?
  • Why is it important that I not numb my pain but let it redirect me towards a future hope?
  • What is our future hope and why should that give us peace in this life?

“Holy Spirit” by Kari Jobe Carnes ft. Cody Carnes

Hope of Heaven & The Hope of Christ: An Eschatological Imperative

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The topic of “heaven” is one of the most penned topics in the realm of prose and poetry, and one of the most illustrated points of artistry. Countless television shows describe individuals’ having out-of-body experiences involving heaven. Movies depict those who claim to have gone there. Heaven remains a fascination for humans. And while some might deny the potential of heaven’s existence, it’s hard to deny the appeal that it has in a world where hope often withers in the shadows of human depravity. So it seems that this only proves the point that this present world is not our hope. It’s not our home. It’s not our entire reality, nor should it ever be.

We are in need of an eschatological imperative to invade our lives. Hope of heaven. The hope of Christ.

Without it we risk meaningless living, in a state of inconsequential reality regarding eternity. Our lives won’t mean very much without the hope of heaven. Or without the hope of Christ. We’ll grow stale. Bitter. Complacent. We need heaven to enter our reality. We need Christ to remind us why we’re here in the first place. To glorify God, to love others, and to desire Jesus as the treasure above all else.

Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven as an imminent reality in so much of the gospels that it seems He wants us to have heaven on our minds. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “you’re no earthly good when you’re so heavenly minded,” it’s quite the contrary. God desires us to “look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” as it says in Titus 2:13.

But notice that our hope for heaven is wrapped up in our hope of Jesus Christ. It is not an isolated hope for eternal paradise. Not at all. Crucially, we long for the day when we see our Savior. And this is the eschatological imperative pushing through the crevices of our hearts. Demanding us to open our eyes. To look to Jesus. To hope for Jesus’ return.

To expound upon eschatological imperative, the word “eschatological” comes from the Greek word “εσχατοϛ” meaning “last; furthest; or most remote.” Pretty simple word. Thus, a pretty simple connection that eschatology (with root εσχατοϛ and ending “-ology,” or “study of”) means study of “last things.” Or the study of things that pertain to the end of the ages and ultimate realities. And an “imperative” is a must or a necessary essential. A logical must.

So, possessing an “eschatological imperative” means that it is necessary and essential for one to operate from a perspective of last things in everything that one does.

But not just any last things. We focus on last things that are important to God as pertaining to scripture. Things that are last (yet to come). And things that last (forever). Namely, Himself. His coming. And the hope of heaven. For God is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev: 1:8; 21:6; 22:13). The beginning and the last (Isaiah 44:6; Rev: 1:17). And He will come to rescue us through Christ (Isaiah 66:18; John 14:18; Rev. 22:12). As we focus on Christ as our last thing, or our ultimate obsession and our end goal, the hope of heaven penetrates our worldview of what it means to live as a Christian. It’s an earth-shattering, eschatological perspective. An eschatological perspective intertwined in 1) the alpha-and-omega, all-encompassing characteristic of God, 2) the return of Christ, and 3) the hope of heaven, where we have eternal communion with our God.

It’s all about God and always will be. For “God is the best thing that exists,” as Louie Giglio puts it so well. He is what we live for.

It helps me to be reminded in the midst of my current situation that there is more to life than this. Whatever season you’re in, it won’t last forever. But God will last forever (1 Chr 16:34; Psalm 45:6) . No matter how broken our world becomes, it won’t remain broken forever. Jesus is coming back to make all things new (Rev 21:1-4). Our lives may not endure past 100 years on this earth. But our life with God will endure forever (Rev 22:5). These are essential truths that should awaken hope in the midst of today’s burdens. That God lasts forever. Jesus Christ is coming back soon. And we hope for heaven.

We look for a kingdom yet unseen (John 18:36; 1 Tim 1:17). A kingdom that is coming on clouds of glory with a rider in white coming to rescue His beloved (Rev 19:13). We anticipate the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev 19:7). We let the hope of heaven seep into the crevices of our hearts that we may be renewed afresh despite a world of chaos. I need that hope. We all do, if we’re honest.

Especially since I can find it so easy to lose sight of just what it means to possess an eschatological imperative. I drift from focusing on the last and most important thing. I drift from focusing on what’s to come. I focus too much on what I can see. Too little on what I don’t see. And the hope of “last things” becomes cloudy in the distractions of today. And I can find myself too worn out to even think about “right now” things, much less “last things.”

Most of the time, we have a wrong eschatological perspective of life. Our “last things,” or ultimate things that should matter before God, are usually self-seeking “first things.” We may spend more time fixating on our own agendas, working towards our own goals, worrying over petty problems, or wishing wishes that never come. Too often we shout “me first” when it should be “me last.” Because it’s always easier to get what we want. It is. But sometimes, deciding to be okay with the tension that accompanies not getting what we want can be good for us.

For me, I’ve realized that I need to stop avoiding anxiety. It may sound odd that this would be helpful rather than harmful. But I’ve learned that I need to be okay with not having control over the things I want to be in control of. And then I have to confront anxiety or fear head-on. I have to let it go and embrace it, if it comes. But in the midst of letting go, I’m finding freedom in being okay with whatever happens to come my way…even if that means feeling overwhelmed with things I no longer have control over. God is renewing my perspective in light of eternity.

And I know it’s hard to think with a mind postured towards heaven in all that we do. I know we have a lot of distractions. I know we still have daily responsibilities. But may we let it be a spiritual discipline that develops into a pattern of habitual thinking, to continue looking towards our ultimate aim to be with Christ eternally. Like David in Psalm 43:5, I pray that we would respond in this manner: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

My only cure for anxiety is an eschatological perspective. An awakening of sorts. A wake-up call to the reality that life is far more dependent on what I don’t see than what I do see. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The impending reality of heaven in our midst should cause us to pause and thank God for the hope He has given us in His Son Jesus Christ. To be with Him one day in glory. To enter into peace and rest. To be accepted as one wholly loved and completely understood. This is our hope. And this “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” as it says in Romans 5:5.

Hope in Christ changes today by curing our anxiety for tomorrow with the truth that forever begins soon. Yes, forever begins soon.

Jesus proclaims in Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon!” and again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” John writes down these powerful words of Jesus as he recalls his experience of this revelation. In Revelation 22:20, he writes, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (emphasis mine). John wanted Jesus to come now. He was ready. He was expectant. His experience and relationship with Jesus further fed his desire to see Christ’s return. So we must ask ourselves: do our relationships with Jesus feed our desire for His return?  We need this kind of longing to keep us hopeful in the midst of what we face here on earth.

I’m finding that as I position my heart towards heaven and my hope in Christ, I don’t worry so much about what is happening now as I used to. I’m learning to take an eschatological look at my circumstances and realize that it is nothing in light of the age to come. There is a “last” thing up ahead that initiates eternity. Jesus will return! And He’s here now with us through His Holy Spirit. Our lives are minuscule compared to His greatness and inconsequential to forever with our Savior.

As we ponder what it means to live life postured towards heaven, may we embrace the very perspective of Jesus. The One who came to earth from heaven and taught us about the kingdom to come. The kingdom of God. The Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. For our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and is kept in heaven for you,” as is says in 1 Peter 1:4. 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20

Questions for Today:

  • How are my ultimate hopes impacting the way that I live daily?
  • Why is it important that we hope in Jesus Christ as it relates to heaven and not hope in the isolated reality of heaven?
  • How can I live my life with an eschatological imperative?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take  in my walk with Him?

“Heaven and Earth” by Hillsong Worship