For ten years (there-bouts) I’ve been praying for the same thing: for God to tell me what I’m supposed to do. For Him to reveal to me my purpose on Earth. If I could just know that, I could dive into my calling and find some semblance of happiness. Money wouldn’t matter, the odds wouldn’t matter, the toll on my body wouldn’t matter – nothing would matter because I’d be doing what I was born to do. I’d be doing (fill in the blank) and bliss would follow.
But as you all guess: God has refused to answer my prayer. Ten years of fervent prayer, prayed in the name of Christ, prayed with emotion and force, all falling on the deaf ears of God. He simply hasn’t answered me. He hasn’t even given me a hint. That makes a man suicidal. I’m sorry to all the would-be councelors out there: this isn’t something a few pills can solve.
I had a two hour drive last night and wrestled in prayer again over this subject. The entire trip, I pleaded with God to reveal to me the purpose of my life; to tell me what to do. Again, nothing.
As a result, I’ve come to the following possible conclusions:
1: Maybe God only writes actual Christians into His narrative and leaves all the unsaved out of it, to flounder through life as well they may. On this view, maybe God’s not telling me my role in the story because I have no role; I’ve become so cynical, He’s cast me out and given others my part to play in history. I still love Him though and can’t believe He’s abandoned me to eternal darkness.
2: Maybe, as many Presbyterians will say, God has a plan for everyone but, unfortunately, His plan is so esoteric and “beyond” humanity that we’ll never understand it. I don’t believe this view because it makes God no better than an impersonal mechanism, but worse, if this is the conclusion we draw, it’s effectively no different than saying I have no purpose at all. What’s the difference between: “You have no purpose” and “You can never know your purpose”? In either case, I can never know my purpose and I’m in the same depressing boat.
3: Maybe God loves me just fine but, nevertheless, has no real place for me in His narrative? This would lead me to hedonism, praying that God simply allows me to have enough material wealth to pass through life comfortably and with moderate pleasure.
I’ve read a number of authors dealing with this: Nietzsche says we have to impose our own purpose on life. Chesterton says we learn our purpose through our relationships (our web of social connections)…which may have been fine for him, but if I took my cues from my modern status, I’d end up killing myself anyway (it’s what society wants from people like me – be it all at once, or through a slow and humiliating process). Walker Percy says we’ve got to leave our social orbit then re-enter it to find a new perspective, but frankly, I can’t follow most of what he says. That goes extra for Dostoevsky who, in a few of his novels, seems to offer profound answers to all this – darned if I can understand them though.
For my own part (the part of a depressed, exhausted, demoralized simpleton), I’m leaning towards 3.
By the way, there’s a really cynical observation we might make about 3. This might be the most discouraging thought I’ve ever penned at Shotgun Barrel Straight, but here I’ll pen it. It must be dealt with: supposing we accept 3, a question arises. How much to be comfortable? If we love God, we ought to be willing to accept life with as much or as little as He designs to give us.
…only (and here’s the bad part), think of the man in Hell. Even in Hell, he’s not completely destitute. Presumably he’d have presence of mind, some measure of company, some days better than others (maybe?), and even in the depths of the Pit, He’d have some notion of the Glory of God. Such omnipresent glory is inescapable, even in Hell.
So we might say that in taking option 3, we’re no better off than the man in Hell, more or less. That’s a damned sad thought.
Maybe there’s another option?
Maybe, instead of consigning me to Hell (be it earthly hedonism or accolades from the Pit), God really does have some purpose for me – some part for me to play in the grand, constantly unfolding, narrative of Christendom?
…if so, then why hasn’t He answered any of my prayers?!