I just got back from the March for Life where I was blessed to attend the Life is Very Good Rally on the Thursday night and the Friday morning. The emcee at both of the conferences was fantastic. On the Friday morning, as he was sharing a little bit of his story, he said that we need to be “desperate for God.” He said it a couple of times and it really stood out to me. Normally when we hear the word desperate it comes attached with a negative connotation. Examples such as “She’s desperate for attention,” and “He has become desperate in his search for a job,” leave us feeling down and dejected. But this man is saying with great joy and passion, that we need to be desperate for God.
Of course, I looked up the exact definition of the word desperate and the third one states, “suffering extreme need” (Merriam-Webster). So what he was saying is that we should suffer an extreme need for God. It causes us great distress and unrest to be without Him. I can look back at the times of my life that I felt most alone, most lost, most desperate and it was in those times that I could not see God. Not because He was not there, but because I had refused to seek Him. Often we do not consciously choose to leave God out of our lives but we become so caught up in ourselves that we do not reach out for Him.
Years ago when I first started out in ministry, my boss at the time talked to us about avoiding “navel gazing.” When we bend to look at our navel, we cannot see beyond ourselves. We gaze only on our being. We desire only for ourselves and what we need and what we can do. In the world of selfies and Tik Toks and likes and dislikes, it is very easy to get wrapped up in ourselves, to navel gaze. We are reminded, however, that we are called to keep our eyes on Christ. To desperately seek Him.
Popular Christian author Philip Yancey once wrote, “We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God.” We are all in need. Too often we spend our time trying to get what we think it is that we need only to find out that it does not make us happy. So we go in a desperate search again. And we find ourselves in a cycle of despair, crying out that God abandoned us, but never really seeking Him. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” I would not presume to put words in the mouth of St. Augustine but I think we could replace restless with desperate. Our hearts are desperate until they rest in You.
We have a God Who loves us unconditionally, Who proves this over and over again throughout Scripture. He enters into covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses and even though they do not keep up their end of the deal, He continues to be faithful. While the Israelites wandered the desert, they felt God had abandoned them. Instead of being desperate for Him they turn to Aaron and ask for a new god. We hear the stories of people getting lost in a world of sin and despair because they have been desperate for something or someone other than our God. He made our hearts to long for Him. Our challenge is to recognize that when our heart is “suffering in extreme need,” it is really a desire that can only be filled by the One Who made that heart. Again, as St. Augustine says, “Let the Lord open the ears to our heart. Let us run to that voice and take hold of Him!
Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.