Emptiness and Eternity

Empty birds nest

I don’t want to feel empty. I don’t think any of us do. We all operate in some capacity to fulfill a lack within us. Whether it’s a lack of food, a lack of comfort, a lack of intimacy, whatever it may be, we run from the feeling of being empty.

In this world, those that have no need are those who are typically esteemed. Whether with money or sex or control, to face emptiness is to be weak. It’s hard-wired into me to run from my own emptiness and vulnerability. I would rather live with naive control than with the honesty of facing my own empty hands.

Jesus says in the Beatitudes that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted will be met with an abundant answer to their emptiness in light of the Kingdom of God. The Christian life is an upside-down life where the empty, the destitute, the grieving, and spiritually bankrupt are told they will be blessed unlike those that think they are filled.

Life has always felt painful to me. I struggle every single day to believe in the hope Jesus provides and not because I don’t have a lot to be thankful for.

I sat in church today next to two friends who, both within the last week, lost someone close to them. They brought with them the emptiness of a lost loved one and shared that emptiness with us so that we could mourn with them. They offered us something very special: they offered us the hope that their emptiness (and ours too) would be filled someday in the light of Jesus. As mourners we embraced each other, and as those hungry for good news, we heard the good news preached. And as those starved for eternity and unity with our beloved, we feasted upon the bread and the wine.

Now I’m home, and I still feel the emptiness profoundly. It’s an ache I’m not expecting to go away anytime soon. But what I’ve tasted has a hold of me and sustains me and keeps me longing for more.