Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
On our bad days, we sometimes say, I feel empty inside. No, I’m not talking about the physical sense of being hungry—but something else that is harder to explain: a lack of meaning or purpose, chronic feelings of emptiness, feelings of emotional numbness or despair.
Why do these feelings come over us? If a loved one or close friend dies, we may sense an incredible sadness which is very strong. The feelings can be intense when that person provided security and purpose to you. And you realise you won’t be seeing them again. I’m talking about a sudden change in life’s circumstances. Not easy to navigate.
A common symptom of emptiness is the feeling that life lacks meaning. Viktor Frankl recognised the human need for finding meaning in life, even during hardship, during the years he spent in Nazi concentration camps. As a result, he developed his own form of therapy to help people find meaning in every aspect of life, naming it logotherapy, which comes from the Greek word ‘logos’ (meaning).
Dealing with Emptiness
How do we deal with these symptoms? We may attempt to combat emotional emptiness and give new meaning to life by volunteering, taking up a hobby, adopting a pet, cultivating or maintaining a spiritual practice, or other activities that may prove more emotionally fulfilling. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what do we do if everything seems dark and gloomy in the world? And we depend on others to make us happy and fulfilled. That doesn’t always work out anyway because they will let you down.
Sadly, I’ve met a few people who do everything they can to hide their empty feelings. They may tell jokes all the time or say outrageous things—just to mask their true feelings of inner emptiness. We build walls to hide behind, and these barriers cut us off from others. This makes deep, genuine, and meaningful relationships that much harder to cultivate, which only serves to make us feel more lonely and more empty. It’s like a circle that just keeps going round and round. I think there is an answer and it comes from the Bible.
Emptiness is normal, but shouldn’t be. Is that confusing? Just stay with me for a moment. God created our world but things started coming apart with the rebellion of our first parents Adam and Eve. They rejected God and the Garden of Eden where they lived in complete joy and happiness,
We Can Be Whole Again
But the good news is that we can be whole again. There is hope for the person who feels empty inside. The Bible teaches that we can be made whole again. For that to happen we must first come to know God as our creator. St Augustine famously wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” If we want to find relief from our emptiness the best, and really the only place to look is to our Creator.
Only by discovering the God who made us we can find purpose, peace and fulfillment. J.I. Packer puts it this way in his book Knowing God:
We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.
Imagine a student who enters a new class with a teacher they have never had before. If they refuse to learn anything about the teacher—for example their style of teaching, likes and dislikes, or policies—they will not do well at all. If they refuse to learn about the classroom environment, procedures, and expectations, they will struggle to succeed and in all likelihood fail. In the same way, if we live in God’s world without learning about God and the way he designed things to work, we have little hope of thriving in life. Therefore, leaving behind emptiness and finding wholeness comes first by recognising and submitting to God as our Creator.
Through faith in Christ we can be restored to a right relationship with our holy creator.
The Bible tells us that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ in order to redeem and reconcile us to himself. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17 – ESV). Through and in Christ we find the cure to our emptiness and sin. We have nothing to offer God, it is true, but he has loved us and sent Christ to die in our place anyway.
Through faith in Christ we can be restored to a right relationship with our holy creator. In Christ our guilt and shame is lifted and we are free. There is no need to hide behind walls because our identity, our purpose, our meaning, our satisfaction are found in Christ and Christ alone!