When God made our father and mother out of dust and ribs, he filled their hearts with his perfect presence. It’s why there was no jealousy or idolatry or adultery in Eden. All of man’s cravings were aimed at God and quenched by God.
Then Adam and Eve bit a hole into what was forbidden, and a hole bore into their hearts. Something echoed now. Where holy fulfillment had been before, there was now an unholy hollow—an ache.
That’s our backstory.
Since the garden, we’ve doubled over in hunger pains, forgetting how richly satisfying God’s presence is. We put the memory so far behind us that we started filling our plates with duller things that whet our appetites.
But nothing satisfies us like God’s perfect presence. We’re left empty and aching.
Ecclesiastes and our insatiable appetite
Ecclesiastes is one man’s hunt for something of substance.
Is all futile?
Why do good men suffer and wicked men win?
Who can know what will happen to man when he dies?
Is there anything worth striving for under the sun?
The Preacher observes and questions and then concludes that life is barren. His words made me aware of my heart-hole.
“Also, [God] has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecc. 3:11b).
Man was created to be filled by God and nothing else. Sin wrecked our appetite and confused our palette to hunger for the wrong things. We crave comfortable homes, polished reputations, fit figures, fat paychecks. It’s our hunger—not those things themselves—that spawns evil.
The Apostle Paul reinforces Ecclesiastes’ message by attacking this root. He writes to Timothy:
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Tim. 6:9-10, emphasis added).
Our heart-hole wants to overflow, so we cram earthly things down it. But they only make us ache more.
“He has put eternity into man’s heart.”
No matter sin’s damage, our insides still gnaw for something perfect and lasting.
Because dust and ribs aren’t all we’re made of. God breathed into us breath from his own eternal nostrils that courses through us and awakens something in our bones. We know we’re hollow. We know we need eternal fulfilment.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom. 1:19).
It’s that longing C. S. Lewis put a finger on– Sehnsucht— an ache for something otherworldly and infinitely satisfying.
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes spent twelve chapters on this hunt for more. He expelled work and wealth and wisdom as futile, fleeting, fickle. He eliminated everything under the sun, until the only thing left was himself before the Creator.
The end of the matter was this:
“Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecc. 12:13a).
Because the only thing that will ever rush into and fill our heart’s hole isn’t under this sun. Nothing on earth can substitute for an eternal God.
Sin gets us hungry for things under the sun, but God made us with a hunger for something under the Son.
Eternity is in our bones.
Jesus and the New Eden
Paul gets our appetite back on track:
“[The rich] are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves treasure for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
True life, true fulfillment can’t be found anywhere outside a New Eden, free of sin. And it’s only because of Jesus that we hold fast to that future.
The Serpent beguiled Eve into thinking something besides God could fill her hole. Since the Garden, he’s baited her children with that lie.
But at the cross, Jesus smothered the rebellion. He proved what God had whispered all along—the answer to our nagging question:
“What is it that can fill my hole—make me whole?”
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“For as by one man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
“I am coming soon” to “make all things new” (Rev. 22:21, 21:5).
I am what fills you.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore… The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev. 7:16-17).