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.”
Have a question, ask it here!
Author: David Scharf
Volume 109, Number 10
Issue: October 2022
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?