Restless Hearts

Why Do We Long for More?

A successful lawyer discovers something is still missing.

He was young, handsome, and brilliant. He was at the top of his field, well-regarded by both his peers and by those in power. He partied with the rich and famous. He had everything that the world had to offer. Despite all this, he still was not happy. His heart was restless. He couldn’t shake the sense that he was meant for more.

We experience this same pattern in our lives.

As a child, we pinned our hopes for happiness on a certain toy, and even when we received it, the joy it provided quickly faded. So we looked to another toy, hoping this one would do the trick. We find the same pattern as adults. Whether it is a new car, the latest gadget, or a new romantic relationship, we keep finding that it is not enough. Why is this?

We all experience a longing for the infinite.

We have a desire for goodness, truth, and beauty which can never quite be satisfied by the things of the world. Gazing at the most beautiful sunset, we still yearn for an even deeper beauty. No matter how many books we read or degrees we have, we still thirst for more knowledge. Even the most wonderful friend or spouse can’t fulfill our longing for perfect friendship and love.

This is a sign that we are meant for something more than this world.

C. S. Lewis famously articulated in Mere Christianity, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water… 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.”

The yearning in our hearts is a desire for God.

God created us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), which means that we are persons with intellect, freedom, and an ability to love. He created us to be united with him and to share in his love, here on earth and one day in heaven. This is why we experience this desire for perfect goodness, truth, and beauty: it is a desire for our creator, who alone is perfectly good, true, and beautiful. This desire in our hearts is like a homing beacon that helps draw us to God.

In God, our hearts can finally find peace.

The lawyer mentioned above was Augustine, serving the Roman Emperor in the fourth century. He eventually became a Christian and finally found the peace and joy for which he was searching. From him we have the famous prayer, “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Why not test it out for yourself?

This desire of our hearts can’t be measured with scientific instruments, but nonetheless it is a sign that can point us to the possibility of there being more to reality than the material world. Each of us can do an experiment: what happens if we stop trying to satisfy our hearts with finite things, and instead seek God?

View original print version.