Tim Keller says that when we experience the inevitable disappointment that comes from drinking out of a broken cistern, we respond in one of four ways:

Blame the idol. We assume that we simply chose the wrong idol and resolve to make a better choice next time. “Well, our marriage fell apart because she just wasn’t the right person for me. We were so young when we got married and I didn’t know what I needed in a partner. I know there is a soul mate out there for me somewhere. . . . I just haven’t found her yet. Someone who will never disappoint or fail me, someone who will never cease to make me happy.” Sure. She’s right over there next to that unicorn and pot of gold. You keep drawing from the well.

Blame yourself. “I am the problem. There’s something wrong with me.” “I didn’t work hard enough.” “I’m always messing things up.” So, you resolve to do better. Turn over a new leaf. Clean up your proverbial desk. Which lasts for about two days, and then you revert to the same sloppy jerk you always were. With every new failure, you get closer to despair.

Blame the world. You give up on finding happiness and become cynical, mocking all those naïve idealists who actually think happiness is out there. You grow bored with life and callous in relationships. You medicate through alcohol or drugs or materialism (i.e., retail therapy). Perhaps you plunge yourself into some isolating, engrossing hobby. Or you write alternative music and angry blogs and troll happy people on Twitter.

Realize that you were created for another world. Maybe the reason nothing in this world satisfies you is that it wasn’t designed to satisfy you. The world is not God enough. If God is what we are missing, we won’t find satisfaction in a soul mate, a salary, or a syringe. As C. S. Lewis said, “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.”

Greear, J. D., and David Jeremiah. 2018. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

We have just released a new Bible Study based on J.D. Greear’s newest book, Not God Enough. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.