Can God truly satisfy? In this episode Phylicia talks about envy, discontent, and why the desire for satisfaction transcends our life stage. You’ll learn why the affection of God frees us to live as satisfied people even when our circumstances haven’t changed.
Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer. And I am here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before. and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey because every woman is a theologian.
Hello, friends. I cannot believe we are in the last month of 2022. It is wild to me. Can you believe it? Just time is just going so fast. As we’re wrapping up 2022, I have a few episodes that I wanted to knock out as we conclude the year because when we get into January, I have a new series that I’m going to be doing in anticipation of the launch of my new theology book that’s coming at the end of February. And so, I want to do a few more episodes that really meet the needs that I’ve heard from you, my listeners and my readers, and kind of address, the heart cry that I’ve seen in the questions I’ve gotten on Ask Anything Monday or in the emails that I receive. This episode is one of those. How do we actually find satisfaction in God?
I wrote about this years ago, based on my experience with discontent when I was single. I was not single, as long as some of you who are listening to me, I got married pretty young. But I really, really struggled with discontentment in between relationships. And also, before I had my first relationship, and when you’re in it, as any single person would tell you, time doesn’t travel superfast, it doesn’t feel as fast as it feels, 2022 felt to me, when you’re single and longing for a relationship. Or maybe you’re married and you just feel really unseen.
Some of my loneliest years and some of Josh’s loneliest years were actually, when we were married. At the hardest moments of our marriage, we felt very dissatisfied, very discontent, very lonely. And all the while thinking like, “Isn’t marriage where you’re supposed to feel super close to somebody and feel you have somebody?” Yet, we don’t feel that way. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you can get to this point where you feel alone or dissatisfied, and as a believer, we know intellectually, that we have God who offers to satisfy us, offers to overwhelm us with His love and yet, a lot of us don’t experience that.
I hope this episode, your takeaway from this episode, is that our feelings about God don’t get to dictate the truth about God. Our feelings are important, there are symptoms, they point to something that needs to be wrestled with, but they are not the truth about God. They do not get to tell us whether or not He truly satisfies because He says that He does. I can tell you after having walked through the discontentment of singleness, and then discontent and hurt and pain and loneliness, in marriage, the hardship and autoimmune disease that seemed like it was unhealable. All of those circumstances really drove me to have to find satisfaction in God, and not in people, or not in a change of circumstances. So hopefully, this episode helps you if you are on that journey, as well.
So, in the midst of our battle, just choose Christ over our human nature. The pat answer from fellow Christians to satisfy yourself and God isn’t always super welcome. So how do we satisfy ourselves in God when quite frankly, we’re still not satisfied? I share that I’ve been there because I have. I mean, when I thought about writing this, the blog post that I wrote on this and then doing this episode, I’m thinking of my single readers and listeners, which by the way I have an episode on singleness. I didn’t want to do an episode on singleness because I’m a married person, but I was told by a single person that it was the best episode on singleness by a married person they’d ever heard. So that was a huge compliment. So, if you want to hear more about singleness specifically, I do have an episode on that if you go back, I think it’s Season Two.
I wanted to do this episode because I have been here and I still get to this place where I wonder, “God, are you able to satisfy me in this moment on this day that’s just so hard in this season?” And just like contentment, satisfaction is not limited by our life stage. Dissatisfaction is no respecter of persons, it can settle in all of our hearts regardless of our stage of life. But dissatisfaction is not God’s intention for His children who have access to abundant and eternal life.
John 10 says, “I am the Door. Anyone who enters in through Me will be saved and will live, He will come in and He will go out and will find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. But, I, Jesus came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance.”
You may recall when my husband and I first met, if you’ve listened to any of my Marriage episodes, or read the blog, or been here a long time. When my husband and I first met, we were not attracted to one another physically. We had no initial desire or spark for each other. We liked each other as people, but we weren’t romantically drawn to each other. But as we spent time together, and came to understand one another’s character and heart, our desire for one another grew. And so, our relationship developed from acquaintance to friendship, from friendship to confidence, from confidence to commitment, and from commitment to intimacy. But there was an essential factor that ultimately brought us to the marriage we have today and stabilized us in the hardest years of our marriage.
I wasn’t looking to Josh to get something, like a relationship status or, whatever I might want from him. The essential factor was Josh himself, or Phylicia herself. Even long-term Christians can have “relationship with God” founded on the wrong motives. We might seek Him for the status of a relationship. Of course, I’m a Christian, I was raised a Christian, I serve in my church, I’m saved. Or we may seek Him for how He makes us look. Being a Christian makes me a good person, and my employers respect me or my friends respect me. Or we might seek Him for what He can do for us. As a Christian, God will give me good things, He’ll give me a future, He’ll give me a husband or marriage a great job or the American dream. We can be the best of Christians and still be dissatisfied in our relationship with God.
And if this is the case, we have to look at what we are worshiping. Are we worshiping our knowledge about God? Or, are we worshiping God Himself? All of our spiritual actions, our good deeds, our holy character are not the point of our faith. They are a byproduct of it. The point of Christianity is a thriving relationship with the Living God. God Himself, by His very nature, cannot be unsatisfying. He is the Creator of life, the creator of you, of everything you have, and do and breathe and live. And just as I found joy in my relationship with Josh as a person, not what he could do for me. If you are dissatisfied with God, there’s a chance that your relationship with God is very impersonal. It’s contractual. It’s I want X, Y and Z from God, he didn’t give it to me, and therefore I’m not satisfied with him. We’re coming to the relationship with God, thinking this is about what I get out of it. Not, this is about knowing Him and being known by Him.
Making the transition from knowing about God to knowing God Himself requires a paradigm shift, because God is enormous and he’s invisible. Our physical separation from Him can make us view him as this impersonal figure. But God is a person, and only by understanding him in a personal way, can our relationship be satisfying. How do we make this shift?
Number one, study the descriptions of God’s person. Passages in Isaiah and Revelation reveal powerful descriptions of who God is and why he acts like. Psalms reveals the human response to God’s character. The gospels reveal God in human form, taking on human likeness and working out his love through the gospel. Secondly, look for God’s expressions and emotions in scripture. “God feels love toward us,” Mark 10:13, “He has moved with compassion,” Matthew 20:34, “God even laughs,” in Psalm 2:4.
Third, assess your prayer life. Do you pray as if you’re talking into a void and no one hears you? God hears the prayers of the righteous. 1 John 5. While you are yet speaking, He hears you, Isaiah 65:24, He rewards those who seek Him, Hebrews 11:6. When we pray in accordance with God’s will, He will answer. You don’t have to pray timidly. You can pray boldly and specifically and expect an answer. It might not be the answer you want, but you can expect an answer. Go back and listen to my episode on why we should pray and how to do it. I talk at length about this. Keep your eyes open to watch for God’s work.
It is in knowing and communicating with God Himself. God, the person that we come to understand that deep satisfying relationship God desires for all his children. This is not just for the big people of Christianity. It’s for the single woman. It’s for the teenage girl. It’s for the struggling wife. It’s for the lonely mother. It’s for the lonely husband and father, the hard-working man. It’s for all who call upon the name of the Lord, Romans 10:13. This understanding of God’s character is what leads to delighting ourselves in the Lord, Psalm 37:4.
One of my friends in college, who perpetually struggled with her health, told me something I would never forget. She said, “It amazes me that God, the God, the train of whose robe fills the temple is also the one who holds my hand.” Her relationship with God was founded on a deep thriving, growing knowledge of God Himself. A personal and magnificent God who was real to her in the midst of her struggles, because He was real, He satisfied.
Your very existence is a reflection of God’s love. Your life, my life, these were God’s decision to bring yet another human being into this world for the potential of having relationship with Him. And yet, the sovereign God, Savior and King in all His power, created you with a human will, and set you free. The one with power to dethrone kings and calm storms gives you the keys to a relationship with Him. And then He stands at the door, and he knocks, in Revelation 3:20.
Now obviously, different parts of Christianity view this differently. If you’re reformed, you might not agree with the theology I just described. This is the Libertarian Wesleyan approach, that God in His sovereignty has made us able to respond to Him, and that He stands and He says, “I’m sovereign enough to set you free, and I have. And I hope that you will choose Me. And I will give you all of your life to make that choice.” While the Holy Spirit calls and convicts us, He is the initiator, He is the one who reaches out. We have the will to choose or reject Jesus Christ. And this doesn’t stop at a salvation decision.
Each day we wake up, we can choose yet again, how close we will walk with the Lord. How personally we will know Him? How often we will talk to Him? How firmly we will believe Him? And how we choose, determines how satisfied we are. He is always ready to fully satisfy you. His spirit is always at work, is always the initiator, is always powerful in dwelling you, He’s not leaving. But you have a choice in how much you surrender to that indwelling how much you follow His voice, how much you trust His love and affection for you.
God could demand our love and worship but because love necessitates a freedom of decision, He takes the risk of grief and calls us to him. We decide whether or not we come, whether or not we believe He is as satisfying as that boyfriend, husband, family, job, transition, change, or move, whatever it is on earth that we want. We get to choose to trust that God can satisfy or continue to believe that those things will. He gives us the choice of finding satisfaction in a consistent and perseverant relationship with Him, not in doing things for Him, and not learning about Him, but in being with God himself.
This may all seem really good and true, and I hope it’s getting through to you. But I still get the question and I understand it. How can God satisfy the desire for human companionship? Certainly, a physical person is capable of fulfilling certain things, a spiritual God cannot. Such as getting together for coffee or hugging or laughing together. To be satisfied and God does not mean your desire for human companionship disappears. It is simply overwhelmed by your relationship with the Lord and blessed through a community that loves you in diverse ways. What do I mean by that?
I mean that in Western Christianity, we have put so much weight on the marriage relationship to fulfill all of these needs, all of these desires, and then we wonder why one person fails to do that. I have to say, I don’t think they’re meant to. I think we’re meant to have men and women friends, we’re meant to have children in our lives, and older mentors, as well as our spouse, and certainly our spouse, that’s a very special and unique relationship that should be protected. But they alone cannot carry the weight of all of the things you want satisfied. And so, if you’re single and listening to this, I pray that you come to marriage with an accurate understanding of what a spouse can give to you, because I did not. And I came to marriage, wanting Josh to fulfill things that he could not fulfill, with demands that he could not meet, things I wanted him to satisfy that God alone was able to satisfy or that my diverse friend group and mentors we’re supposed to satisfy, alongside of Josh, we cannot put so much weight on one person.
So, to be satisfied in God does not mean you don’t desire human companionship, but that you see it rightly. Marriage is not our ultimate destiny. Husbands and boyfriends, and even friends and mentors, they’re not capable of satisfying a companionship need constantly for the long term. And I have discovered that in developing a deeply personal relationship with God, I have been satisfied by him in those lonely, lonely seasons of life.
Well, there was a phase when I had very few close girlfriends, as I prayed for God to bring new ones into my life, I had to depend on Him as my sounding board, I told Him the things that I would have wanted to tell a friend, I confess to Him my frustrations. And this is what a real and living relationship with God is supposed to look like. It’s a relationship with a person. It’s living, it’s alive. And certainly, it’s not like, “Oh, I’m friends with God, so I don’t need any human friends.” I’m obviously not saying that. But I am saying that the healthier your personal relationship with God is, the more that will carry over to your relationships with other people, because what does God say throughout the entire Old Testament law? Love me first with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and then love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law rests on these two commands. But it’s vertical first, and then horizontal.
If we expect to feel happy all the time, or to be satisfied in the sense that we have everything we’ve ever wanted, that’s not really what satisfaction means. Satisfaction is an inner peace and acceptance of where we are, knowing that God is with us in our current situation. And this is what Paul was talking about when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” in Philippians, he’s talking about contentment. I have learned to be content in all things. and I do that because Christ has strengthened me to do it.
We receive the same strength by pursuing a deeply personal relationship with God Himself. And this doesn’t come only from Bible knowledge, or ladies Bible studies or counseling, serving in the church, mission trips. Sometimes we have to back away from it all and remind ourselves that the summation of our life, and our work and our faith, it all goes back to how well we knew God Himself. If you keep trying to do the Christian things, in order to eventually rid yourself of a dissatisfaction, it won’t happen. You can read your Bible, study the verses, write down notes and still feel as if God is not satisfying until you stop seeking satisfaction and simply seek God.
I am not saying this is a quick fix. This has been a journey for me and it still is because seasons will come where that loneliness or that anger, that upset reaches into me and that discontent and I have to say, “Okay, Lord, show me how good you are.” It’s kind of like a changing of your tastes. I don’t know if you’ve ever done a sugar fast or any kind of fast, but I’ve done a sugar fast before. When I was off of sugar for a period of time, and then started eating it again, because I do eat sugar and I love it. When I was eating it again, it suddenly was so much sweeter than it was before. Before I had taken that break. And that’s because my tastes had changed. I was not consuming this sugary stuff. I was consuming stuff that was less sweet, and because of that when I came back to that really sweet food, my reaction was different. It was almost overly sweet for me. Our tastes changed when it comes to God.
We run from thing to thing to thing on social media often. On our phones, we’re looking at all of these things that we want or that we wish we had, and we create this “castle in the air” as it says in Little Women, of what we want. We tell God, “This is what we want.” Then if God doesn’t perform to our expectations, we’re discontent.
I think all of us need to remember that one of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not covet.” What’s coveting? It’s looking at someone else’s things or life, or life stage and wanting that for yourself. Now, this isn’t to say that you don’t have dreams or hopes. God is not shaming your hopes and dreams. It’s not wrong to want to be married, it’s not wrong to want a family or even a beautiful home or good job or a change. But it is wrong to judge, and be critical towards people who have what you don’t have. And that should be our sign that we are not walking in a proper view of God’s character and His heart for us.
The solution here isn’t to go, “Oh, I’m so bad for coveting or envying.” It’s to say, “Lord, I was wrong, and I repent to You for coveting those things and I’m going to set boundaries with my phone or whatever is triggering this. Lord, reveal to me how satisfying You are. Lord, I’m going to come to you in these moments, I’m going to make time, I’m going to set aside my phone, I’m going to put it in another room, and I’m going to spend 30 minutes just dwelling in the Psalms and praying these aloud to You in writing them out.” When was the last time you did that? Do you feel so unsatisfied? And yet, the time you spend on your phone is triple that that you spend with the Lord. What if you reversed it? What if you did? Would you find a God who’s been waiting all this time to show you how much He loves you? Would you find a God whose affection is real, but you’ve been too busy, so you missed it?
Satisfying your heart in God is a discipline of your spirit. Pour out your heart to Him. Treat Him like the person He is. Act like He is your friend, your father and your savior, all the things you know He is but forget to believe. And in the knowing and the believing, you will come to fully grasp the love He has for you. A love that truly satisfies.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoy this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity, and about every woman a theologian as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s word and the heart of Jesus Christ.