Our Latin lesson had a quote from Seneca this week: Ars longa. Vita brevis.
Art is long. Life is brief.
Maybe so, but the crumbling statues and mosaics of Rome prove that even the longevity of art has limitations.
The artists who thought they would find eternal significance in their creative genius and abilities have long been food for worms, and one day, even the Mona Lisa’s smile will be forgotten. Nice try, Seneca.
Why spend our days striving for significance?
It’s because the lack of significance is terrifying.
We live in an area where many people struggle with hopelessness and a lack of significance. The suicide rate of 10-20 year olds in our community is almost three times the national average.
I have too many memories of children describing to me how they found their relative who had attempted or committed suicide. Even their descriptions are haunting, and I often pray that the Lord will erase this painful memory and ease the burden of those events for them.
When significance is lost, or we think it is, we give up hope, and the results are disastrous.
We all want to matter.
We want to matter to our families, our friends, our community, and our world. We want others to need us, appreciate us, and value what we can contribute. We hunger for significance.
This is why so many parents struggle with empty nest syndrome. The significance of parenting and providing for children has flown away with them. What will give significance to life now?
Young people transitioning from highschool to college or from college to career may struggle too as the routines and acheivements that used to define their significance are stripped away to make way for new ones.
People coming out of active addictions struggle to redefine significance as all the goals, desires, and victories of the drug die and they search for something meaningful to fill that void.
We are all searching for significance.
I recently visited with a man who knows the secret to significance. His wife has passed away. His only child, a son, has passed away. He is no longer able to safely care for himself at home, so he made the decision to move into an assisted living facility.
When I spoke with him, he was obviously not struggling with this burden of significance. He knew, and lived like, the burden of significance belongs to the Lord Jesus! The Lord created him, is sustaining him, and is giving significance, purpose, and meaning to his life every day as he serves as (an unofficial, unrecognized, and uncelebrated) missionary in that assisted living home. He shares the Good News with other residents, nurses, and employees. He encourages other believers to trust the Lord to give them significance.
He seemed like the happiest man in the whole place.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
When we align our lives with God’s purpose, He bears the burden of our significance. We do not have to make ourselves or our work matter. We must only make it comply with His purpose. The significance of that is eternal and eternally satisfying.
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