Perhaps the best Tim Keller sermon I’ve ever heard is one called “The Girl Nobody Wanted”. As it traces the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, it explores the frustrated nature of human experience – and points us towards the only source of lasting fulfilment.
Here’s an extract from Keller’s excellent Counterfeit Gods where he touches on the same theme:
If you get married as Jacob did, putting the weight of all your deepest hopes and longings on the person you are marrying, you are going to crush him or her with your expectations. It will distort your life and your spouse’s life in a hundred ways. No person, not even the best one, can give your soul all it needs. You are going to think you have gone to bed with Rachel, and you will get up and it will always be Leah. This cosmic disappointment and disillusionment is there in all of life, but we especially feel it in the things upon which we most set our hopes.
When you finally realise this, there are four things you can do.
- You can blame the things that are disappointing you and try to move on to better ones. That’s the way of continued idolatry and spiritual.
- The second thing you can do is blame yourself and beat yourself and say, “I have somehow been a failure. I see everybody else is happy. I don’t know why I am not happy. There is something wrong with me.” That’s the way of self-loathing and shame.
- Third, you can blame the world. You can say, “Curses on the entire opposite sex,” in which case you make yourself hard, cynical and empty.
- Lastly, you can, as C. S. Lewis says at the end of his great chapter on hope, reorient the entire focus of your life toward God. He concludes, “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.”
(Counterfeit Gods, p38-39)