Man’s Search For Meaning
Judges 13:5, “…you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.“
Now, let me say this from the very start, I understand that everyone is different. 20 years of pastoral counseling has convinced me of the uniqueness of each and every individual. No two people are alike. (In fact, you have a greater chance of finding two identical snowflakes than you do of finding two identical people.) But I do feel confident in applying this broad brush in this particular instance. The actual details and the order of importance will certainly vary from person to person but the general premise holds true. In my experience as a pastor I found that most people are generally seeking the fulfillment of 3 basic needs. First of all, people want to be happy. Secondly, they want to be loved. And lastly, they want their life to have meaning.
Over the years I have watched as people have invested tremendous amounts of time, energy, effort and money into the pursuit of personal happiness, love, and meaning. They will do whatever it takes and make almost any imaginable sacrifice, all in the hopes of finding a lasting answer to these 3 great needs. Sadly, for many people all 3 remain as elusive as a constant stream of water in the world’s hottest desert. The quest for happiness becomes an endless pursuit of entertainment and pleasure that only temporary satisfies at best. The longing for love causes many to sacrifice morality and compromise faith just for the chance to be wanted, to feel needed, to be held in the arms of another. And the lengths that man will go to in order to experience meaning? The world’s largest library could not hold the books that could be written in an effort to answer the question of meaning. Families sacrificed on the altars of career, the future surrendered to the false promises of drugs and alcohol, marriages destroyed because another person was perceived to be the “one.” On and on the list goes. Seemingly endless. Tragedy upon tragedy. All because of a vain pursuit for happiness, love and meaning.
The angelic message was clear. Samson’s life was full of meaning, full of purpose. What I find of real interest is that this meaning, this sense of personal purpose and worth, began while Samson was still in the womb. From the time of his very conception Samson’s life had meaning. What is truly remarkable is the freedom that such an insight should bring to each of us. Samson’s meaning was not tied to any of the traditional traits that we usually associate with purpose and value. It didn’t arise from a sense of entitlement, education, or accomplishment. His meaning didn’t come from a title at the start of his name or a string of letters after his name. No plaque or certificate on the wall. Not one single piece of property or any possession that he owned. It wasn’t based on the number of his Facebook friends or followers on twitter. Samson’s life had meaning because of his connection to the divine. From day one his purpose and value was tethered to God.
It’s really no different for any of us. I meet so many people who feel their lives are void of meaning. They are always looking for that ever elusive “something” that will give them a sense of purpose, a sense of value. For some it is a relationship. For others it is their career. We collect and celebrate our achievements and awards hoping that they will fill the void inside. But at the end of the day the feeling wears thin. We try so many different things in an effort to find validation, to experience fulfillment, to justify our existence.
If only we would realize that our meaning is tied to the One Who created us. Just consider Samson. Long before he ever slew the lion, defeated the Philistine army with a jawbone, or carried off the gate of Gaze his life had meaning. His life belonged to God from the very start. And it was this vital connection that gave birth to meaning. We waste far too much effort and time chasing things that don’t matter. In the final analysis our meaning, our purpose, our very worth comes from God. It is through a vital, growing relationship with Him that we experience meaning in this life. Not from what we do or accomplishment. But from whose we are. He created me. He died for me. He purchased me. I am His in every way imaginable. He gives my life meaning. He is my meaning.