When was the last time that you used the word ‘yearn’ in a sentence? Probably a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Our culture yearns very little. Maybe we like it that way. Maybe we don’t want to yearn anymore. But that would be a problem.
To yearn simply means “to long for something with an earnest, strong desire.” That longing often accompanies hope and involves waiting – something we seem to rarely enjoy anymore. Christ followers long for the return of Christ with eternal hope, but what is the equivalent in our culture? And what does our culture long for anymore? Young people may long to be married, to have children, to have a dream job, or to own a dream possession like a car or a house, but those are temporal pleasures. Older people may long to retire or to enjoy grandchildren, but those are not lasting eternal benefits. As believers, we can spread the eternal hope of the gospel found only in yearning for the return of Jesus Christ.
The Disappearance of Yearning
Technology today has provided fewer opportunities for yearning in everyday life. I can remember having to run and get the camera for the “Kodak moment,” which wasn’t always there by the time I got to the camera, took off the lens cap, and steadied my arm for the shot. The moment sometimes disappeared but when it remained, the Polaroid brand name cameras were the latest greatest gadget! At last, we didn’t have to wait five to seven business days for our film to be developed by the local drugstore! A piece of film on paper was instantly ejected from the camera, but that photo could not be seen right away as it developed before your eyes. Ah, the yearning! We would shake the picture and wait a few minutes for the image to appear with eager anticipation. Though for a short period of time, we gathered around the small paper and yearned during those minutes while waiting with excitement to see our picture. Today, cell phones have high quality camera features, and we can take a selfie in a matter of 2 seconds or less. If we don’t like the selfie, we delete it and do it again until we get it just right. There is no yearning.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Microwave ovens, automatic fireplaces, ice makers, GPS devices, and more are wonderful gifts to us that save us our number one resource: time. Time is the one resource that we use and do not receive back. You may spend $100.00 but you can earn that back; however, when you spend 15 minutes of time on something, you never get that time back. It is gone forever. While it may sound like I am a grumpy old man complaining about all of these “new-fangled gadgets” that brought about the disappearance of yearning, my purpose in this piece is to remind us of how good yearning can be because it produces excitement and hope. It teaches us to be patient and to wait. For believers, we learn to wait upon the Lord and to trust Him. We must embrace yearning as followers of Christ, and now we have even more time to yearn and pray than ever before!
Star Wars Awakens Yearning
One recent event that has rebirthed a bit of yearning within our culture, at least in a temporal sense, is Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens. Scripts have been kept top-secret, even from the actors themselves until the day of the filming. Each actor would arrive on the set, be given the script, and then study it that day before performing it later on camera. Such secrecy created a type of yearning within a culture that has forgotten what yearning is, let alone how to yearn gracefully—except maybe a little during Christmas time. The suspense surrounding the movie produced an incredible season of yearning, building up the excitement for the new release last week.
Yearning Has a Good Purpose
It is good to yearn because it reminds us of having a heavenly mindset while living an earthly existence. The Bible reminds us in Ephesians 5:15-17: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” As believers, we need to make the most of our limited time on this earth by sharing the hope and excitement of the gospel rather than feeding our insatiable desires of the flesh. And as believers, we need to yearn for the right things like the imminent return of Jesus Christ, and we need to share the hope and excitement of that yearning with others.
For those of us who are born again, having trusted in Christ alone for eternal life, yearning for Him to return is a good thing. It is far better than the return of Luke Skywalker and anything this temporal world has to offer.
Join the Conversation
- What do you yearn for? What is the importance of yearning in your life?
- Can we yearn unbiblically as we well as biblically? In other words, is there a wrong way to yearn and if so, how?
 Adapted from the definition provided from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yearn?s=t. Accessed December 14, 2015.