Why do people feel inner emptiness in their lives?
Augustine was a famous Christian theologian of the 4th century. He started his autobiographical Confessions with a prayer in which he said: “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” That quotation has become a classic in Christian devotion for it speaks to the inner emptiness and restlessness that is part of the human condition.
The existential philosophers went beyond this feeling of emptiness and described the anxiety and dread that one feels when facing one’s mortality and purposelessness. They called it angst.
No one is exempt from this feeling of being lost. The successful businessman can make all the money in the world; the spiritual ache never leaves. The famous movie actor can be loved by the masses; nothing drives away the gnawing sense of aloneness. The humanitarian, philanthropist or peace maker, for all their good deeds and intentions, must tangle with the quandary of a spiritual vacuum. When we attempt to fix this ubiquitous melancholia, we end up feeling worse. We cram our lives full of sex, alcohol and drugs. The emptiness remains. Why won’t it go away? Why can’t human beings just find contentment? Pascal, a famous mathematician and philosopher, said, “Man searches in vain, but finds nothing to help him, other than he sees an infinite emptiness that can only be filled by the One who is infinite and unchanging. In other words, it can only be filled by God Himself.”
Pascal and Augustine got it right. We were never meant to exist outside of a personal intimate relationship with our Creator. The Bible is reminds us that all problems associated with the human condition find their root cause in our alienation from God. Because we are not in right relation with Him, we suffer the consequences.
The Christian, although not immune from feelings of loneliness, has come to realize that he or she is not alone. When a person asks Jesus to forgive her sins, she is accepted as God’s child and receives the filling of the Holy Spirit as the real presence of God in her life. When a Christian is living in disobedience, he may find that fellowship with God is short circuited and may experience bouts of loneliness. But Jesus is faithful to forgive us our sins when we confess them in repentance (I John 1:9). He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) We are never alone. Reach out to Him.