A few years ago, there was a suicide attempt by the son of one of my husband’s colleagues. My kids overheard part of a phone conversation about it and wanted to know what was wrong, who was hurt? They were 8 and 10.
So I decided it was time to unpack those difficult things for them. If they had been younger, I might have avoided this mature and macabre topic. But it’s my job to help them frame the pictures they see in this world. I want to be the one that gives them Truth, firsthand.
Suicide is hard to explain to naive and happy hearts. Not knowing the particular circumstances, I said, “Sometimes people lose hope. They may be overwhelmed by discouragement and think that their lives have no worth or purpose.” Wide, wide eyes looked back at me. This did not really compute for them.
My children have always been taught about their purpose and their worth. They could not imagine anything erasing that knowledge. They were, and still are, young. But I know the road of discouragement. I had often wondered, like so many, at adolescence and beyond, Why am I here? What difference does my life make, anyway?
My Purpose is Not about Me
As a teenager, I had read the Bible. I knew the Gospel. I loved the Lord. But my heart could not overcome my own sense of worthlessness, to really understand my place in this world. Even as an adult, I’ve struggled with feelings of inferiority.
Finally, as I was teaching my children, I heard the crystal clear answer in a catechism. This was Truth that I had not not really experienced as a child or an adult:
Q: What is the primary purpose of man?
A: The primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1).
My purpose is not about me; rather it is about Him.
This truth does not diminish me. On the contrary, when my purpose is joined with His, my life has eternal significance. [tweetthis]when my purpose is joined with His, my life has eternal significance.[/tweetthis] When I fulfill my calling by giving Him glory, nothing is wasted.[tweetthis]When I fulfill my calling by giving Him glory, nothing is wasted.[/tweetthis] This is why we feel encouraged and uplifted by lifting Him up, in praise. Try it! Read this aloud:
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him;
strength and joy are in His place.
1 Chron 16:23-27
We are made to glorify God. When we are doing what we’re made for, we feel comfortable in our own skin—we feel worthwhile when we worship.[tweetthis]We feel worthwhile when we worship.[/tweetthis]
Are you like me? Is it a relief to acknowledge: my purpose is not about me?