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“The Prison of No Purpose: Navigating the Future When the Present is Unclear“
*Miranda breathed a frustrated sigh at her college graduation reception.
“I knew what my plans were when I graduated high school: to go to college. Now that I’ve graduated college, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next.”
Career prospects are scarce in her particular degree field, so even the thought of job-hunting seems a monstrous task. However, I sensed a deeper void in her words, a more zeal-squelching reality. Sadly, I’ve witnessed it on a more frequent basis in our society over the last ten years. There seems to be a black cloud of “purposelessness” that appears prevalent in predominantly (but not exclusively) the younger generation.
Before I proceed further, please know that I do not seek to condemn anyone with these thoughts. On the contrary, I desire to inspire hope and a sense of destiny in those who may read this article (in line with the very mission of Inspiring Hope Blog). As a mother and grandmother, however, my heart is broken for some of my adult children (and many in their generation) who seem to be wandering, like lost sheep with no shepherd, in their young adulthood.
I’ve only recently heard the term “adult-ing” from a twenty-something young woman. Apparently, it pertains to the ominous process of becoming an adult, with all the expectations and responsibilities of such. Like a threatening bully, the future taunts them with fearful thoughts of failure, poverty, financial obligations, health care, relationship commitments and more uncertainties.
Even this morning, my mother received a collect call from a loved one in a nearby county jail. His life is filled with fear and shame, and self-anesthetizing efforts to numb his emotional pain. It’s just more evidence of the deadly power of living with no purpose. For many, there are countless hours spent on video games, television, social media/ computer, spending money, gambling, or casual sex. Many (even some whom I love dearly) drop out of college, go from job to job, and never seem to “cut the apron strings” and become self-sufficient.
Too often, drugs and/or alcohol are their go-to source of a few minutes of “not having to think about life, because it really sucks”, to put it in their terminology. I see hurting young people (and middle-aged and older people) addicted to a temporary fix, to ward off the unnerving giant of a scary and pointless reality, from their perspective.
This subject has been on my heart for months, as I continue to watch many whom I love deeply go through difficulties and heartaches, many of which are brought upon themselves. Careers, relationships, finances, physical and mental health, are each adversely affected by the things we believe, the choices we make, the sense of helplessness and hopelessness. With eyes and priorities focused only upon the here and now (with no regard for the future, much less eternity), we make short-sighted decisions with short-lived victories.
Another family member recently put on social media: “I go to work, I come home, take the kids to school, go back to work, go home again. I have no life.”
I can’t help but notice how many “selfies” we see on social media… you know, the photos of oneself, in various poses, usually attempting to appear attractive, even seductive. Again, I don’t know anyone’s heart – even my own – (the bible says our hearts are deceptive, and only God truly knows them), but the outward signs seem to point to a very self-absorbed mindset.
For those who haven’t figured this out yet, a self-serving, egocentric existence will never bring lasting joy and satisfaction.
What she’s describing seems to be the norm for millions of people. What good is this rat race, if we’re just spinning the wheels to pay the rent and put food on the table? Is that what this is about? Is there no meaning to our existence? And then we die and leave it all to someone else to pick up where we left off? If that’s our perspective, no wonder the suicide rate is so high!
Life is difficult… somebody give me some good news!
There was a teenage boy named Daniel who lived in ancient Babylon. A very evil, murderous king named Nebuchadnezzar had kidnapped thousands of Hebrew people, including young Daniel and his friends, and they were living in fear for their lives under the wicked king’s rule. Even amid difficult and unjust circumstances, however, Daniel remained true to his faith in God.
Daniel studied the scriptures, and prayed three times a day, consistently. He observed all of God’s laws, knowing that these “commands” were for his own good, from a loving Heavenly Father who had Daniel’s best interest in mind, as well. The Book of Daniel 1:8 says, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” Daniel followed God, and he became physically and spiritually stronger, wiser, and more highly favored – even by an evil ruler.
A twisted plot by some crooked men caused Daniel’s three young friends to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Instead of immediately burning to a crisp, the Bible account records that witnesses saw “a fourth man in the fire, walking around, and He looks like the Son of God!” That “man” was the pre-incarnate Jesus. By the way, Daniel’s friends walked out of that furnace, and the Bible says they didn’t even smell like smoke!! In both of these miraculous occurrences, even the evil rulers of the day had to admit that only “Daniel’s God” could do such a thing, to deliver Daniel and his friends.
Many years later, a much- older Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions, and God sent an angel to hold the lions mouths shut, so his life was spared. (Incidentally, the men who conspired to get Daniel thrown to the lions were themselves thrown in the next morning. The Bible records that they were devoured by the lions before they even hit the ground. Read the account in Daniel Chap. 6)
Daniel “purposed in his heart” to obey God, and this sense of purpose gave him clear, uncompromised direction for each day.
Daniel loved God and knew that God loved (and would take care of) him. It was a close, intimate Father-son relationship, as God desires with each of us.
God, incidentally, is a perfect Father, unlike any human father. For years, my fearful and eventually estranged relationship with my earthly father tainted my view of God. I felt like God was up there with a sledgehammer, waiting to pounce on me at any moment, for all my sins and mistakes. I grew up imagining that the God of Heaven must be the same way. Boy, was I wrong! I believe, though, that most young people believe the same lie, based upon their own relationships with their earthly fathers.
I turned fifty recently…there, it’s out! I’ve lived long enough, and lost enough people to early death (a sister at 35, a son at 33, a baby before birth, both grandparents in their 40’s) that I don’t take anything for granted. I cannot assume that I will live another day or have another chance to tell my children (or the world around me) what I have witnessed and found to be true.
We each have the same disease… and there is only one cure.
Psalm 14:1 says: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” (Read what this means.)
John 10:10 tells us the truth:
“The thief (Satan and his deceptive lies) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
What is YOUR purpose in life? Are you still trying to figure that out? I highly recommend the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life“, by Rick Warren. I’ve bought it for several of my kids when they graduated high school. (Perhaps I should have given it to them when they were twelve!) It describes what Warren believes are the 5 purposes for human life on earth.
Love to hear YOUR comments, prayers, testimonies and questions, below. Remember that your COMMENT between May 14th and 24th earns you an entry into the drawing for a FREE Autographed CD!!