Question: "What does the Bible say about finding satisfaction in life?"
Answer: Satisfaction is the state of being content, the feeling that one’s needs or wants are met. Satisfaction seems to be a rare condition in our world today, as many people express dissatisfaction with their jobs, their marriages, their circumstances, and themselves. The Bible teaches that finding satisfaction in life depends on having a relationship with God through Christ.
One expression of satisfaction is the pleasure we feel at reaching a goal or achieving a measure of success. God designed human beings with a great capacity for joy, as He Himself possesses (Genesis 1:27). He placed within us the ability to set goals and achieve them; then He demonstrated what healthy satisfaction looks like in Genesis 1. By the third verse, the Bible is already recording that God saw what He had made and that it was good. We understand that feeling. When we have labored to create something good, we feel satisfaction.
Satisfaction involves contentment, being satisfied with one’s circumstances. The Bible has a lot to say about contentment. First Timothy 6:6–8 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Learning to be content is the prelude to satisfaction.
To be satisfied means we are not yearning for something else. When our hunger is satisfied, we don’t want any more food. When our thirst is satisfied, we don’t crave more water. When we are in right relationship with God, our souls are satisfied. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).
In some ways, the human heart is like a whining toddler who, if left to himself, will never be satisfied (Matthew 15:19; Ecclesiastes 6:9; 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9). We tend to constantly demand more, bigger, better, flashier. Much of advertising today is designed to destroy our satisfaction and to make us think we need more than we have. But when our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit, the demands of our hearts can be brought under His control (Galatians 5:16–17). We recognize that God has provided all we need for our present happiness and we can, therefore, experience satisfaction. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Godly satisfaction is not to be confused with self-satisfaction. Godly satisfaction is the state of being pleased and grateful for God’s provision and work in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20). Self-satisfaction is a form of pride. Self-satisfaction considers the pleasurable state the result of our own efforts and is pleased to draw attention to that fact. Jesus gave an example of the self-satisfied in Luke 12:16–21. In this parable, a rich man was quite satisfied with his abundance, and his life revolved around fulfilling his wants and desires. Jesus reminded us that none of us should become so satisfied with this life that we disregard eternity.
We find satisfaction in life when we uncover our true purpose in being here. As long as we pursue our own ideas of what will satisfy, we never quite find it. Like a child chasing soap bubbles, we are convinced that, if we could only get our hands around that beautiful dream, we would be forever content. And then we catch it. And it’s gone. But, look, there’s another bubble! So on we go wasting our lives chasing soap bubble dreams of happiness while, all the time, our Creator waits with the instruction manual in His hands.
Paul lived for decades with beatings, stonings, imprisonments, and rejection. He summarized earthly satisfaction in Galatians 2:20 when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” When we, with Paul, are willing to daily crucify our flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24) and allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, we find a greater fulfillment than the soap bubbles of this world could ever promise.
Life is simplified when we recognize that our purpose is simply to reflect the glory of God in the unique ways He designed us to shine (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:20). When we make it our goal to live for Christ, the result is a satisfaction that carries into eternity. Even when earthly needs or wants clamor for attention, our souls know this state is temporary and our eternal satisfaction is just ahead. “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11; cf. Matthew 6:19–21).