The Longing for Life To Be Good Again

by John Eldredge July 13, 2022
“… where the river flows everything will live.” Ezekiel 47:9b (NIV)

Along with my wife, Stasi, I was among the 62 million homeowners who did home renovations during the COVID-19 pandemic — that’s more than three-quarters of all homeowners in the U.S., the highest levels ever seen.

We painted the living room and got new carpet and chairs. We upgraded our garden as well. This was far more than boredom or the desire for change; it was a profound longing for a fresh start at life in the midst of so much loss and uncertainty. The renovation craze reflected something deeper — a yearning for life to be good again, expressed in paint and carpet, gardens and landscaping.

But the whole time Stasi and I were renovating our home, I could feel something was off. The preoccupation of making our home nicer temporarily took my mind off the death counts in New York, London, Paris, Delhi and elsewhere, and off the battle over vaccines. But it didn’t feel like the answer. It was good; I enjoyed it. But it didn’t bring about the fix I was longing for.

Then life began to return to some semblance of normal — we got restaurants back, movies, outdoor concerts. The world rushed out like the starving survivor of a shipwreck, brought back from isolation and set before a Sunday brunch. In the summer of 2021, you couldn’t get a rental car, Airbnb or campsite. Airports, beaches and national parks were jammed. The longing for things to be good again was (and still is) raging.

Personally, I couldn’t get enough. But all those comforts and activities weren’t delivering whatever my weary soul was desperately longing for.

It has to do with reserves.

We tap into our deep reserves to endure years of suffering and deprivation. Then one day, our heart simply says, I don’t care anymore; I’m done. We abandon the fight and go off to find relief. I fear this is what’s happening now on a global scale.

We’ve all run off to find life and joy following years of stress, trauma and deprivation. But it isn’t working; it won’t ever work. We return to our normal Monday through Friday, disappointed, and disappointment will become disillusionment. And disillusionment makes us extremely vulnerable to the enemy of our souls.

We must lovingly shepherd our famished thirst back to the Source of life.

Many of us think that what we need right now is three months at the coast. Walks on the beach, beverages on the deck … and with all my heart, I hope you find that. But for most of us, a sabbatical in some gorgeous refuge is not available. What is available is the River of Life, God Himself, in ways we have not yet tapped into.

God wants to make His life available to you. Remember, He’s the Creator of those beautiful places you wish you could go to for a sabbatical. All that beauty and resilience, all that life, comes from God, and He wants to impart a greater measure of Himself to you! The life of God is described in Scripture as a river — a powerful, gorgeous, unceasing, ever-renewing, ever-flowing river.

Ezekiel was given a number of beautiful visions, glimpses into the Kingdom of God that permeates this world. He saw the temple of God in Jerusalem, and out of the temple was flowing the River of Life. As it flowed forth across the countryside, it became so deep and wide it wasn’t possible to swim across it — an image of abundance! I love how the passage ends:

“… where the river flows everything will live” (Ezekiel 47:9b).

Everything will live. This is what we want — to live, to find life in its fullness again.

In order to tap into the River of Life, we begin by loving God in our longing for life to be good again. Nearly all of us have been chasing relief in a myriad of hopes, plans and dreams without first turning to God. So we need to enter the longing; feel it; become present to it; and in that place, start loving God. Choose Him.

Our first step toward resilience is to come back to Jesus from all other places we’ve been chasing life. We allow Him to be our Rescuer here, in the longing for life to be good again. We ask God to fill us with the river of His life.

God, I come back to You now in my longing for life to be good again. I love You here, in my soul’s longings, desires and heartaches. I open my heart and soul to the River of Life. Let it flow in me, through me and all around me — restoring, renewing and healing me. You alone are the life I seek, and I welcome Your river into my heart and soul; I receive the river of Your life in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


For a road map to finding the joy you’ve lost, get a copy of John Eldredge’s new book, Resilient: Restoring Your Weary Soul in These Turbulent Times. The Resilient Study Guide and Streaming Video series will be available in October 2022.

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Revelation 22:1-2a, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.” (NIV)

Where have you been chasing relief through your hopes, plans and dreams without first turning to God?

What would it look like to experience more of God’s River of Life in these specific areas?

© 2022 by John Eldredge. All rights reserved.

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