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A Hole God Does Not Fill

December 19, 2006

When Christians are faced with the pain and aching in the world, I think it is safe to say that they usually blame it all on mankind’s fall into sin.  Indeed, had Adam resisted the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), there would be no suffering and hurt in this world, would there?  We would all live in a peaceful utopia, just as Adam did before he made his fateful mistake.  I must agree with the general conclusion that pain and sin are results of the fall and the entire world would be much better off if Adam had resisted the hideously beautiful fruit.  Before sinning, Adam had a perfect relationship with God.  There was no pride, hatred, lust, greed, envy — in short, no sin to separate God from His greatest creation.  In fact, the Bible seems to imply that Adam would walk throughout the garden with God during the “cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  Adam probably had the closest relationship a man could ever have with God; while Moses may have been the man closest to God after the fall, a post-fall relationship could not compare to the completely perfect relationship Adam had with God before the fall occurred.  And yet, even in this utopia and perfect relationship with God, all was not well.

The Genesis account is filled with God’s proclaiming His creation good, from the Seas and the Earth (Gen. 1:10) to the trees and plants of the field (1:12).  The crowning moment of creation, however, happened when God created man in His own image and then proclaimed His entire work “very good” (Gen. 1:31).  One can only imagine what it must have been like to be Adam, “born” into a perfect world with God as His Parent, walking with Him as one walks with fellow humans.  What more could one ask for?  God, in His wisdom, saw that all was not good.  Moses puts it this way:

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (NKJV, Gen. 2:18).

Despite his perfect relationship with God and the wonderful world he lived in, Adam could not be complete until God made a helper suitable for him.  There was a “hole” inside Adam that even his perfect relationship with God did not fill.  When we’re feeling lonely or rejected, we’ve all heard the consolation from fellow believers that “only God can fill your heart.”  There’s truth in that statement — one will never find complete satisfaction in even the most wonderful love (a lesson powerfully illustrated in Sheldon Vanauken’s amazing book A Severe Mercy).  It is unreasonable, though, to tell people that God will fulfill their longing for another person to love and cherish; God, in His perfect relationship with the first man, recognized that Adam needed another human to love.  Granted, I’m sure God could (and sometimes does — see 1 Cor. 7:37) take away that desire, but He never fulfills it Himself, for another human was meant do to that.  I like how John Locke put it in his Second Treatise of Government:

God having made man such a creature, that in his own judgment, it was not good for him to be alone, put him under strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination to drive him into society, as well as fitted him with understanding and language to continue and enjoy it.  The first society was between a man and wife…

Now, I realize that what I’m saying here could be misinterpreted to an extreme.  I’m not saying that we should first of all seek love — the Apostle Paul warns for him who is “loosed from a wife” to not seek one (1 Cor. 7:27).  In addition to this, God promises that if we seek first His kingdom, the rest will be added unto us (Matt. 6:33) and that the desires of our hearts can be found only be delighting first in Him (Ps. 37:4).  A tragic and horrifying (if somewhat extreme) example of what results when we seek love above God can be read in this recent story at the LA Times.  (Read the story at your own risk — it can get both sexually and violently graphic.) 

In the end, I’m not advocating the idea that we should seek love above God; that is making and idol of a good thing and will only lead to heartache and problems, as illustrated in the LA Times story above.  Still, it is untrue that God will “fill the hole in our hearts” for romantic love when He is the one who put it there in the first place.  We must seek Him first, certainly, but we must not expect Him to fulfill something He never intended to.  All we can do is trust that, if that emptiness is inside us, He will one day bring the only one who can truly fill it.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for the wonderful article.
    When we start reading God’s Word from the beginning everything fit to place and the clarity of thoughts and peace fill the heart.

    As much as I know the Bible, Gen. 2:18 is one and only place where God has said “It is not good that…” concerning His own works, but these God’s words didn’t contradict the statement that everything that God had done was Perfect. I understand these God’s words as reasoning aloud during His creative process. Adam was just transitional step into creating the humanity. However, I didn’t think that God’s remark was accidental. It clearly points to our essential spiritual oneness and depicts what artists are used to call the eternities, to describe as the main goal of humanity…
    When we recall this episode of creation the command love other as themselves obtains the new light, as well as lots of outwardly beautiful movements lose any novelty.

    Your post was wonderful. I couldn’t understand just one word. What it means “to seek God”?
    I think such vocabulary creates just confusion. How it is possible to seek for what is not hidden but present everywhere and lives in each of us? We just need to live with God. And Jesus Christ makes that possible. Fulfils the plan of restoration and all we must to do is just to accept God’s precious gift.


  2. A good read and something I needed to pay attention to today. Thank you!



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