As a young man, I experienced a deep sense of longing and restlessness. I sensed something was missing in my life. I lacked a specific overriding meaning or purpose—yet I had no clear idea what that something was.
Only after God’s grace, through the Gospel, enabled me to see my need for Jesus Christ did I come to realize that this restless longing has a deep history among pilgrims and seekers. Saint Augustine offered to God this prayer: “The thought of you [Lord] stirs him [man] so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”1
In hindsight, I can see that God used my restless longing to do a deep work in me. In fact, this restless longing serves as a pointer to God for countless individuals. Theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. explains, “We human beings want God even when we think that what we really want is a green valley, or a good time from our past, or a loved one.”2
C. S. Lewis described this phenomenon, which has come to be known (in Christian apologetics) as the argument from desire:
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists….If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.3
Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft has placed Lewis’s reasoning into the form of an argument:
• Premise 1: Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
• Premise 2: But there exists in us a desire that nothing in time, nothing on earth, and no creature can satisfy.
• Conclusion: Therefore something more than time, earth, and creatures must exist, something that can satisfy this desire.4
It is in the celebration of the Incarnation that humankind’s existential longing fi nds satisfaction. The “God-shaped vacuum” inside every human being can only be fi lled with the Godperson, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffi n (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1992), Book 1, p. 1.
- Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God’s World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 6–7.
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 136.
- Peter Kreeft, “The Argument from Desire,” accessed October 1, 2014, https://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/desire.htm.