As a recent college graduate, I can not stress enough how much I do NOT miss sitting in classes all day. Endless hours of lectures and presentations that have plagued my life for the past sixteen years have finally ended. Of course, some classes were worse than others. I’m not talking about the difficult professors, or the long research papers, or even when the business school tricked us all into taking math by calling it “Data Analytics,” but instead, the classes that were the hardest to show up for were the ones that seemed pointless — full of tedious repetition or busy work. I can still remember sitting in a high school classroom doing a coloring page for Human Anatomy my senior year and thinking, “What am I doing here? What’s the benefit to this?” This wasn’t a new question by any means, I had asked myself this many times sitting while through classes that seemed to fulfill an educational system requirement, without offering me or my classmates any useful skills or knowledge. Even an easy ‘A’ became drudgery when the only answer to “Why do we have to do this?” was “Because you have to.” I got to the point where that wasn’t enough.
I thought this weight of wanting to do something meaningful would be fulfilled as I grew up and got out of school, but even with more experience under my belt, I’ve found that the opposite is true. That same question echoes through my mind, even louder than back then: “What am I doing here? What’s the point?” I’ve come to find that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege to travel around this country, working in eight different states, meeting people from all over in all different stages of life. The common thread I’ve seen everywhere I’ve gone is this: people long for purpose. This longing is hardwired into the deepest part of ourselves, nagging us to seek out and understand who we are and why we’re here. What role are we supposed to fill? What’s the point to our lives?
We’ve been intentionally designed by our Creator with a desire to have purpose, to have meaning, to have value. Too often I find myself falling into the trap of equating my satisfaction and identity with an earthly achievable goal. Isn’t it so true how tempting this can be for us all? We do it with our education, our careers, our relationships, and anything else we can measure. We think that one more degree, one more promotion, one ring on our left hand, one more zero in the bank account, then we’ll have what we need to be satisfied, to know we have fulfilled our purpose.
The problem with this thinking is that no matter what we do, no matter how much we achieve, it will never satisfy. This is because our deepest desires for meaning are designed with the purpose of pointing us back to the One who designed us, God. In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus was speaking to a large crowd. Having just seen Him miraculously fed thousands with only five loaves of bread and two fish, the crowd pursued Jesus seeking something else to marvel at, something else to fill their stomachs. Perceiving this, Jesus said to them:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
A man much wiser than myself has said to me multiple times this year, “We never really leave the eighth grade.” A part of us always awkwardly longs to be accepted, to fit in, to figure out what we’re doing here. God knows that we all desire to feel fulfilled. He designed us that way. We can let that desire drive us to things that will temporarily fill our wallets and our bellies, but ultimately leave us wanting more, or we can choose to rest in the grace, love, and acceptance of Jesus Christ, trusting that a life lived with the purpose of glorifying His name above all is a life well lived. The apostle Paul says it this way in Philippians 3:7-8:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
So, what’s the point? What are you looking to in your life for purpose? Success? Status? Security? If it is anything that you can measure in this life, then it can not compare to the immeasurable love of Jesus. If you want to live out your purpose, and live every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, then live for Jesus in all that you do. If He becomes your purpose, everything becomes meaningful because of Him. Jesus gives contentment – He is the point of everything.