by Pastor Rollan Fisher of Every Nation: Second City Church, Chicago
Most of us do not spend a lot of time thinking about our purpose, at least on a cosmic scale. But the times we do can be pretty troubling, especially if we suspect that there is no purpose. On the other hand, even for those who believe that our lives are heading somewhere—who believe there is an ultimate meaning—finding answers to life’s simple, everyday questions can be difficult.
Who should I spend time with? Where should I work? How should I spend my money?
“Then what is life for? To die? To kill myself at once? No, I am afraid. To wait for death till it comes? I fear that even more. Then I must live. But what for? In order to die?”
– Leo Tolstoy
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Life is just a dirty trick, a short journey from nothingness to nothingness.”
“They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” – Samuel Beckett
Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
The first person to write, in detail, about this search for meaning was king over the ancient nation of Israel. King Solomon was more rich, powerful, and wise than any living person. He had it all, tried it all, and discovered some profound things as a result.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.
I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Conclusion: Life is meaningless without God. But God gives everything meaning.
One of the fastest growing religions in America is “practical atheism,” which is populated by those who claim to believe in God but live as if he doesn’t exist.
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.”
– Brennan Manning
When you are taking your last breaths, will you be longing to have earned more money, achieved more status, or networked with the right people?
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
You are invited to embrace Jesus’s challenge to seek God’s kingdom and discover your purpose in light of God’s plan.
Every person on Earth was created to know and love God personally. Life is meaningless without God, but God gives everything meaning.