Why We Long for the Unseen in Times of Difficulty

Should we really be surprised?

In times of difficulty we long for something beyond the here and now, beyond the day-to-day, beyond what we can see. It doesn’t matter your fundamental beliefs about the origin of life, your purpose on earth, or even whether you believe in God or not – when difficulty comes in, we inevitably look beyond what is and imagine and long for something different.

Why We Long for the Unseen in Times of Difficulty

Of course, you might say, we long for things to be different in times of difficulty. That’s not very profound. And you’re right. Except that’s not what I’m saying. Our longing is deeper, further, and greater than things to simply be different. If we were all honest, we would all admit that we have moments of longing for glory. In fact, the longing is always there, we may just notice it more in moments of desperation. But why is that?

Why We Long for the Unseen in Times of Difficulty

We long for glory, for the unseen because we are wired to. Why else do we find ourselves becoming obsessed with things that NEVER satisfy us? Sex, drugs, attention, popularity, money, family, friends, none of these are sufficient for our deepest desire. We go back to them over and over again as if this time will be the difference maker. And what do they seemingly do? Let us down. Destroy us. 

We return to our vices in times of trouble because we don’t have anything else that will take away the pain temporarily. At least we think that’s the case. 

Problems and trouble come in and we begin to step back from everything else except for the trouble, the pain, and the longing for something different, something better. 

The apostle Paul puts it this way: “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4, NASB). In other words, we don’t want to die, but at the same time, we know that this life isn’t all there is. We know that there is a more pure and more real life out there. We know that what is here and now isn’t the end of the story. 

We simply must look to the sky and give ourselves to letting our minds go where they may. Light years beyond and we are still discovering what is out there

Space exploration. We want to have a greater understanding at the vastness of our existence. We long for the unseen because what we are seeing right now doesn’t seem quite right, quite complete.

Sickness. We know that, at the most fundamental level, it’s a virus in the system. We long for a place where the virus would be destroyed never to return again.

Why and Glory

When bad things happen we ask the question even though we know that the answer seems to escape us every time. We spend our days trying to gain sense of control only to be reminded of the smallness of our perspectives and irrelevance of our plans. 

Difficulty is troublesome because it points our eyes and our minds to the unseen because what we are seeing in the moment simply seems to be insufficient for our longings. We want, so badly, to be in a place of bliss, to be in a place of perfection. Our hearts long for it constantly. Trouble simply magnifies the aim of our hearts.

The simple question of why? is to be expected, for we know that life has purpose and meaning. We know that our lives are not accidents, but they are on-purpose beyond what we can fathom or describe.

Anyone who has ever wondered why? in times of pain or difficulty must deal with the fact that they are wired for glory. 

What do I mean?

Why We Long for the Unseen in Times of DifficultyWe were made to worship, to honor, to bring glory to God. I know – how cliche, right? Could
it be that the cliche is true and that simple truth is pervasive throughout your life whether you believe in God or not?

We were made with the new in mind. A place where no tears and no pain exist. That is the place where Jesus wants us all to be in the end (which is simply the beginning of the rest of existence). He will make everything new including you. Follow your longing and find satisfaction in the only sufficient One, the One you were created for. Find rest in your Heavenly Father. Today.

Engage Culture With the Gospel

I’d love to go on this journey with you and help you engage culture with the gospel. So let’s be email friends. I’d love to send you a copy of my two free eBooks: Bible Hacks: Understanding the New Testament and Do Something: Cultural Crises and the Gospel. And I’d love to give you my free daily devotional: Journey to Knowing God. You’ll get all this (and updates with new content) when you subscribe to the blog.

Brandon is the Spiritual Development Pastor at The Crossing, a church plant on the east side of Cincinnati. He is the author of Crucified to Life and Preaching Sticky Sermons. His passion is helping people discover hope and transformation in Christ. He & his wife, Sara & their daughters, Kairea & Piper, live on the east side of Cincinnati with their two dogs.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.