Purpose. It’s the thing I most want in life. More than happiness, more than financial stability, or a skinny figure. Which is saying something because I want those things quite a bit. But meaning? Nothing holds a candle to that. I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to have meaning, how to make my days meaningful, how to find meaning in the things that happen to me. It is often my harsh taskmaster, enslaving my every move to the god of purpose.
Never has this been more clear to me than in the midst of suffering. Finding purpose in my pain was the only thing that kept me going on some days. If my pain could just grow some legs, go out into the world and do something worthwhile, maybe then I could breathe again. If it isn’t all pointless and I’m not just a victim of random molecules colliding, then maybe I could be okay.
I think the natural question to ask when searching for meaning is why. Why is this happening to me? Why did God allow this? Why is there no justice for the person who annihilated my heart? But there are many problems with the Why question. It gives rise to more questions and various speculations, with very little meaning. I don’t want vapors of ideas, I want firm footing for my rapidly sinking heart. I need a thoroughly tested anchor, a life-saving peace to protect me from the storm.
So if I can’t find that in Why, I’m left with For What? I may never know why things happened to me. Why I had to marry Brian and why he had to suddenly depart after ten years of marriage. But I might one day be able to figure out what good has come from it. For what am I to endure this? For the glory of God? For the love and support I could provide the church? For the faith it will grow in me? Possibly all these things.
These questions and answers bounce around in my head on nights where I’m haunted by my ghosts. They circle my mind like buzzards, trying to signal the death of my anxiety. But they often fail. Because although answers and purpose are gods that I serve willingly, they cannot comfort me the way I long for. They are no better than carved images, too dumb to listen and to inept to help.
At last my mind finds rest in Christ alone. In the wealth of peace that he pours out. No questions, no speculations, just himself. I don’t know Why and I can barely offer a satisfactory For What – but Jesus is. The only purpose, the only reason, the only peace in a chaotic world. The I AM ever over me.