Friday, January 9, 2009

Longing and Hope

After reading C.S Lewis it seemed very strange to be reading Plantinga, because the two writers have very different styles. The chapter on longing and hope was so straight forward and simple compared to previous Lewis readings that required me to re-read and contemplate afterwards. Also, after reading straight from the source it was interesting to see Plantinga quote Lewis frequently. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable change of pace.

Plantinga introduces the chapter with describing a sense of longing and yearning that we all experience. The German word sehnsucht is used to express this constant searching and seeking that is unavoidable. Unfortunetly, we are usually looking for some material object to fullfill our longings. We live in an age of consumerism and we are bombarded with advertisements telling us to buy a new product even though we just bought the "old" version last week. Of course we continue to purchase the new items because we believe that they will bring us the happiness we are desperately craving. Along with material objects we often search for a man or woman to satisfy all of our needs. When they fall short of our expectations we move on and continue the search. It is a cycle that does not end, because we cannot find any object or person on earth to answer all of our longings.

Augustine says "O Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." We are born with this longing to know God, to be "in" Him, and nothing else will satisfy us until that happens. Although our earthly desires will never fully bring us joy, Lewis says that they point us beyond the things of the earth to the ultimate reality of God. It's okay to want a lover, but we should look to expand the number of things that excite our longing. If we put all our hope into one item or person we are likely to be left dissappointed (unless of course, that person is God). Additionally, we should look beyond our lovers, friends, music, landscapes, etc. to see how they can bring us closer to God.

Plantinga suggests that longing is an ingredient of hope. Whether it is a good grade, a call from that special someone, or a sunny day, we all hope for several things each and every day. However, the hope that is described is much more specific. You can only hope for something you want, and if you really want it you will develop a longing for it. Plantinga says a hopeful person imagines something, believes that something is possible, and desires that something he or she imagines and believes in. Ultimately we are all hoping for shalom. This hebrew word doesn't have a direct english translation, but in a way it means peace. It is a state in which all things are the way they are supposed to be.

Personally, I get way too caught up with my own idea of how things are supposed to be that I often lose sight of God's plan. I really like the Lewis quote "where except in the present can the eternal be met?" Many of us spend too much time in the past or future, wondering what could have changed or what it will be like if changes are made. We lose ourselves in our own false worlds because we have such strong yearnings that we try to fullfill without God. How terrible it would be to live a life that can only be satisfied by obtaining earthly things, because they rarely provide a happiness that is long lasting.

No comments:

Post a Comment