This is our last week of Dissatisfied, and we’re looking at yet another common area in which we typically find dissatisfaction in our lives. Directional dissatisfaction is something we experience when we’re not happy with the trajectory or direction of our lives. When we feel like what we’ve accomplished or done isn’t in line with our potential, we experience directional dissatisfaction.
This kind of dissatisfaction is inevitable in our lives for two main reasons. First, because we will never stop striving to achieve. Because we are made in God’s image, we’re constantly going to be striving to achieve and create. The most unnatural thing we can do as humans is nothing. The second reason that directional dissatisfaction is inevitable is that our impact can’t be fully measured. Sometimes, our moments of biggest impact are not easily measured or quantified. When we feel that we can’t measure what we’ve done, we can often experience dissatisfaction.
Question: When have you experienced this kind of dissatisfaction in your life? What were some of the contributing factors to it?
Read Jeremiah 1.4–10.
God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to Judah when he was still very young. Essentially, the life of a prophet was all that Jeremiah knew. This was not an easy life to live, and we can see Jeremiah’s dissatisfaction throughout the entire book. In fact, in Jeremiah 20.14, he says he wished he had never been born. There are four things that contributed to Jeremiah’s dissatisfaction and still apply to us today.
1. He doesn’t just proclaim the message, he embodies it.
Read Jeremiah 15.16.
Jeremiah didn’t just say yes to doing something for God, he said yes to being something for God. God doesn’t just want to use our abilities or our resources, He wants to use all of us to do His work. He wants us to fully embody His message and love for the world. When we do this, it’s certainly not always appreciated by our culture or our world. Because we can feel under-appreciated, we’re likely to experience dissatisfaction.
2. He identifies with the plight and pain of God’s people.
Read Jeremiah 8.21–22.
Jeremiah wasn’t just aware of the pain of the Israelites, he was close enough to God’s people that he felt their pain, as well. God is calling us to be present with humanity rather than dispensing our wisdom from a distance. When we live in close emotional proximity to our world and its pain, we’re bound to experience dissatisfaction because we identity with the hurt that’s around us.
3. He identifies with the heartbreak of God.
Biblical scholars have said that the anguish and heartbreak that Jeremiah expresses is often times tied very closely with God’s heartbreak over the way Israel is living. That’s because he didn’t just embrace God’s message, he embraced God’s burden. Allowing ourselves to be gripped by God’s hurt and concern for His people is necessary, but it’s also hard. It can oftentimes lead us to places where we care more about people than they themselves do. This can be incredibly dissatisfying.
4. He was disappointed with the results.
Read Jeremiah 20.7.
God called, equipped, and commissioned Jeremiah, but no one heeded his voice. When we do the work God calls us to, we won’t always get rewarded or recognized for it. Sometimes, our greatest efforts are met with indifference or even persecution. When that happens, we’re hurt… and dissatisfied.
Question: Which of these four contributors to directional dissatisfaction have you experienced? How have you responded to them?
Knowing that directional dissatisfaction is inevitable, it’s crucial that we understand how to respond to dissatisfaction. If we don’t handle it well, we’ll come to a place of contempt for ourselves, for others, and for God. There are three ways that we can respond well to directional dissatisfaction.
1. Be honest about your dissatisfaction.
Jeremiah is incredibly honest with his heartbreak when he talks to God. In Jeremiah 20.7, he tells God how much it hurt that he’d been “tricked.” Our God is a Father that draws near to the brokenhearted and wants to be with us in our times of hurt. He can’t do that unless we’re honest with Him about the kind of hurt and dissatisfaction we’re experiencing.
Question: Are you honest with God in the times of your hurt and dissatisfaction? Take some time this week to sit with God and be completely honest about what’s on your heart.
2. Get the Word in your heart.
Jeremiah said that when he received God’s Word, he physically couldn’t keep it to himself (Jeremiah 20.9). God’s Word is a generative force: it produces faith and life in our lives. In Psalm 1, we’re told that meditation on God’s Word leads to fruitfulness, which can lead to a feeling of satisfaction in our work.
Question: What scriptures help you meditate on God rather than spending time living in dissatisfaction? Memorize one of them this week.
3. Remind yourself that God is with you.
Read Jeremiah 20.11.
God promises to never leave us nor forsake us, and we can constantly remind ourselves of that. Practice being in God’s presence and basking in the love of our Father. One of the best ways to do this is through worship—it is a way for us to remember who God is as He reminds us who we are in Him.
When we’re feeling the weight and dissatisfaction of purposelessness, we can turn to Jesus. When we focus on Him, what He’s done for us, and what He’s called us to, we are reminded of who we are and what we’re called to achieve.