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Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?

How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference? 

Many wrestle with that important question in life: “What am I here for?”

I remember a wife and mother asking me a question about her purpose in life. I asked her to walk me through a typical day. She proceeded to list a day full of tasks serving her family. She ended by saying, “You see why I don’t feel like I have a purpose in my life, right?”

She’s not alone in her feelings. Everyone wants to make a difference. I sat in the room of a wonderful Christian man in a nursing home. I noticed tears forming in his eyes. I gently asked, “What’s on your mind?” He explained, “Pastor, I’ve spent my life helping people. I can’t help anyone here. Instead, I’m a burden to my family and the workers here.” My heart broke for him.

Grow where you are planted

When we wonder why we are here, we have a problem. We make comparisons. We look at the lives of other people making a difference and then we think we need to be more like them instead of seeing what God is doing through us.

Search the Scriptures. You won’t find a passage that talks about the best way to serve God with your life. I’ve looked. It’s not there. Instead, we find many directions for our Christian life:

  • Pastors and teachers are encouraged to “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught” (Titus 1:9).
  • Citizens are told to pay their taxes (Matthew 22:21).
  • Husbands need to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-33).
  • Parents are to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord, and children are to honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1-4).
  • Workers should obey their bosses, and bosses should treat them fairly (Ephesians 6:5-8).
  • Every Christian is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9).

Can you find yourself in that list—perhaps multiple times? So do as God asks. Don’t compare.

Fulfilling others’ needs

God doesn’t call us to do things he hasn’t given us the opportunity to do. Instead, God calls us to make the most of every opportunity he places in front of us.

In a sense, whatever my neighbor needs is the call that Jesus gives me. Love for Jesus and my neighbor fulfills the call. So, moms, who needs you today? So, construction workers, who needs you today? So, students, who needs you today? You get the idea. What am I here for? To fill the needs of those around me.

Martin Luther answered this question by quoting 1 Samuel 10:7, “Do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” What your hand finds to do does not spring up by accident. God gives you a chance to serve him by serving your neighbor.

A quote that has been attributed to Luther sums up this point nicely: “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

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Author: David Scharf
Volume 109, Number 10
Issue: October 2022

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This entry is part 10 of 66 in the series question-answer

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