If you have ever played Trivial Pursuit (with people who have not memorized the answer cards), you know that it can take a long time to finish a single game. There are 1000-piece puzzles that might take less time to complete. And, like any other game, there is a winner and there are losers. Life can become one long game of trivial pursuits if we lose our focus on what’s important. Often, we convince ourselves that the things we’re chasing are worth it; and after all, no one wants to be a loser. We refuse to give up the chase, believing that once we achieve the next milestone, we will be satisfied. But that satisfaction always seems to be just beyond our reach.
Once upon a time (and this is no fairy tale), we were satisfied. God created us to find our satisfaction in Him alone, not only by communing with Him (in the Garden of Eden) but by doing His will and His work (Adam and Eve were to exercise dominion over the creation). For what appears to have been a very brief period of time, humanity did find satisfaction alone in God.
But the promise of something better, as strange as that may sound, was offered. Satan, through the serpent, deceitfully promised Adam and Eve that they could be made like God Himself (Gen 3:5) so long as they “played along.” But it was no game, and the results were devastating. They ate the forbidden fruit, Satan’s promise proved to be false, and a separation occurred between the Creator and His creation.
Afterward, God did something we often overlook. Romans 8:20 says that “the creation was subjected to frustration” (NIV), meaning that God made it impossible for the creation (including things like wealth, fame or power) to bring satisfaction to humanity. Yet these are the things we seek, often relentlessly, somehow convincing ourselves that a little more money, or the next promotion, or more recognition will bring the satisfaction we crave and slake the thirst of our hearts. It will not happen, nor can it happen, because God has made it impossible to happen! His desire is that this “frustration” will lead us ultimately to Him to find genuine fulfillment. But there are far too many of us who are still willing to play Satan’s game, believing there is something better.
Our satisfaction is found alone in our Creator and by doing His will (Psa 16:11; Mat 5:6; 1Ti 6:17-19). Any other pursuits, however pleasurable they may seem to be, will not grant lasting fulfillment to the human soul because God has subjected the creation to frustration … for now. Paul adds that God did this “in hope” (Rom 8:20), or rather, in the certainty that Christ will ultimately bring the creation and the Creator back together. Only then will the creation bring us satisfaction because God Himself will fill every part of it. There will be no prohibitions, no possibilities of failure nor the presence of the devil to mar it again.
But that day has not arrived. Until it does, may we have the wisdom to end the game of trivial pursuits and “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1Ti 6:11). In these worthy pursuits, we will find satisfaction – and there will be no losers.