Do we have a purpose? It is increasingly difficult to find meaning and purpose in a world that seems as if it is going to hell in a hand basket. We live in a world where it’s not frowned upon for fourteen year olds to have children, gay is the new black, a buffoon like Bush can be president, adultery and fornication are common place, materialism flourishes, violence is cool, and scandal is ubiquitous. I could continue to go on and on, but those things are not the purpose of this post. Yes, even this post has purpose.
The big question is do human beings really have purpose even amongst the chaos that we call everyday life? Is there some larger reason for our short existences beyond our jobs, titles, struggles and shortcomings? Do the evolutionists have it right that life just evolved randomly without any real meaning, symbolic or literal, behind it? If this idea is true we are forced to consider its implications: that we live and we die and that’s it! It suggests that our purpose is only to die so that the next generation can evolve and then die. There is no heaven, no hell, no morality—no distinction between good and bad. That sounds brutally nihilistic. I cannot accept that.
It would be hypocritical for me to continue this post as if I too don’t struggle to find meaning and purpose in my life. When I was in college my purpose was to be a good student and graduate. When I took a job at a non-profit my purpose was to do what the white people wanted me to do in order to get paid. Now I dip strawberries for a living. My life is free from accolades, conferences, intellectual pursuits, extracurricular activities and the proverbial rat race. It is free of all the things that previously drove me…to what, I ask emphatically? As I write this post, I am just inches away from the stand that holds all of my awards. There are trophies, plaques, and medallions that I have amassed: things that once meant so much to me, but that now seem to exist solely so that I can have something to dust off. Even the B.S. degree that I worked so hard for (it cost me insomnia, 2 visits to the hospital for stress related issues, lost of good social opportunities, and a large potion of my sanity) now seems worth less. The promised doors that it was supposed to open have now slammed shut; the honor that it was supposed to bring was short lived. Alas I dip strawberries, but I reflect on these things as I skewer the delicious red berries and gently submerge them in chocolate, twirl them and freeze them only to repeat the meaningless process over and over again. Yes, even strawberries have purpose.
Yesterday I attended an annual church function where all of the churches in my conference get together to worship and fellowship and do whatever else church folk do. Ironically (or maybe perhaps not so ironically) one of the ministers there talked about this issue of purpose. His message was simple, yet meaningful and beautiful, and hope-inspiring. Though I am not gifted enough a writer to fully capture the essence of his message in this brief post, I can tell you that his conclusion was that our purpose—the purpose of the entire human race—is to glorify God* . That resonated with me. It was simple and profound. It is our ultimate purpose. It is the reason we were so lovingly created—not thrown together by some astronomically improbable chance. So in our struggles, our defeats, our successes, our careers, our relationships, our silence, our disillusionment, and even our strawberry dipping we are to live for God’s glory. I began this post with a question, one that has been overwhelming me for months or perhaps years. One that has caused me bouts of depression, weeks of exasperation, and what felt like insurmountable anxiety. I can feel those weights began to lift and hope’s light penetrate the darkness upon discovering the answer is a resounding yes.
* Not that I didn't already know this. I am a Christian. We hear stuff like that all the time, but that this was the first time it ever really began to mean something to me on a deeper level.