Why is meaninglessness such a problem for the modern life? Of course the question presumes it is and a quick Amazon search for meaning yields 23,804 hits. There is of course a wide range of topics with such a broad topic from “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” to “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” There is even a book on the “Meaning of Meaning” which I suspect is a little circular. Is it a soul problem? Probably but I do not think it can be said to be exclusively an unbeliever’s problem.
Of course meaninglessness is not a unique problem to modern man. God tells us “there is nothing new under the sun,” (Eccl 1:9) and while we would like to think our situation is different, God assures us it is not. What may be though of as ‘new’ is the amount of distractions which allows one to mask the lack of meaning in their life. These distractions allow us to think an abundance of activity equals meaning; but it does not.
According to Dr. Ravi Zacharias, everyone at some level seeks to answer four, simple, yet profound and interrelated questions which together form their world view. They are: Origin – where did I come from, Meaning – why am I here, Morality – How do I conduct myself, and Destiny – What happens to me after all this is over. It is believed that the order presented by Dr. Zacharias is not accidental but the progression of logical thought upon the entire scope of their world view of life.
Therefore, for someone’s life to have proper meaning, they must have settled the issue of Origin and must have done so correctly. This also means that for those who struggle with a feeling of meaninglessness they may also struggle with the foundational issue of Origin. Now it cannot be said that everyone will come to the proper conclusion of Origin, but if they do they still may not arrive at the correct sense of Meaning. This is why great care must be given in such pursuits.
The writings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes are as much a biography of the lives of each one of us as much as biographical of his own. He begins with his thesis “Vanity of vanities all is vanity” (Eccl 1:2) and follows with twelve chapters of supporting argument. After “all has been heard,” he gives to us the meaning of life “… Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccl 12:13) . Like it or not, this is everyone’s meaning. And while a lack of a sense of true meaning is a problem for the unregenerate it is not something they can do anything about. To “fear God and keep His commandments” is an impossibility in their unregenerate condition.
For the redeemed though, when their meaning is ignored, friction occurs within themselves giving rise to all manner of wow. So yes in both cases it can be said to be a soul condition, and while both are gifts of God’s grace, the former is only curable by God Himself as they are regenerated; the latter is curable only if they return to the task for which they are called, “Fear God and keep His commandments” and find their meaning in God himself.