Are there solutions to the problem of boredom? Most philosophers who have written about boredom have centered their solutions around the basic premise that one needs to re-structure life-goals adequately so that boredom is driven away by a purpose filled life. No arguing with that basic premise though sometimes the problem is not really the validity of the premise but its attainment in day-to-day life! I will try to elaborate on a Biblical perspective to this problem.
First take a vacation every week. And that is what the Sabbath is all about. When God advised man to rest in honor of the 7th day of rest observed by God, it was really a prescription for man to take a break and re-charge himself so that he could better face the next week. The Sabbath does provide an opportunity to break from the routines, rest the body and soul and strengthen the connection of man’s spirit with God so that in strengthening his roots, he is better equipped to meet the challenges of his life. The weekend usually does help to break the routines, but rarely does man use it strengthen his relationship with God and so the utility of the Sabbath as is observed in today’s world ends up having limited value.
Next, meet the social need. Man is a social animal and needs to interact with real people in real relationships. Man was designed to interact with others and the very creation of Eve followed that need.
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” —- 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2)
Whether it be your spouse or children or relatives or friends, there is something therapeutic about real relationships. And the reason I emphasize ‘real’ is because the advent of the internet and facebook have ensured that we are left with only virtual and faceless people to relate to, and that is no substitute for real relationships. The hours spent in the virtual world is mind-boggling for an average person and in my opinion, does little to really satisfy the social need in man. Boredom, among many other deficiencies follow.
Having experienced what a Christian life is all about, I would say that the greatest solution to boredom is to enter into a relationship with Christ. A person who has not experienced this relationship might baulk at this suggestion. But reading through the Bible, a Christian life is not pictured as one that is boring; rather it is portrayed as one that is filled with excitement, wonder and adventure. Paul writes in Ephesians 1,
‘18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come’.
To one who comes to a recognition of the security, spiritual riches and power available in a relationship Christ, life moves on to a realm of purposeful living, ceaseless wonder and sustained interest, driving out boredom. Of course, unless one comes to a point of repentance and faith in Christ, this experience will always remain theoretical.
Finally, take seriously the Biblical recommendation to join all of life unto God in true worship.
‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’. (1Corinth 1:30).
Far too often, the secular and the spiritual are compartmentalized by the Christian and he fails to take seriously the Biblical injunction to walk in step each moment with the Spirit of God.
Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) was an uneducated man who joined the Paris monastery and was assigned to the kitchen to mainly clean dishes. That is where he remained and that is what he did all his life- working in the kitchen and running errands for his superiors till his death in relative obscurity. However, being a devout Christian, he made a resolution to practice the presence of the Lord. He made great progress in that area and his conversations with a friend were complied and published after his death, ‘The practice of the presence of God’– a booklet that is hugely popular in Christian circles. He said,
‘I simply made a resolution to give myself completely to him the best way I knew how by turning from my sinfulness and seeking to love him’.
To an observer, his life would have been one of drudgery and boredom. But not for Lawrence! In his words,
“How happy we would be if we could find the treasure of which the Gospel speaks; all else would be as nothing. As it is boundless, the more you search for it the greater the riches you will find; let us search unceasingly and let us not stop until we have found it.”
Being led by the Spirit of God to continually obey Him is a recommendation that involves painful self-denial and proactive obedience to God. When all of one’s life no matter how monotonous or routine it might appear to be, is joined together in worship and obedience to God, all of your activity including your work, relationships, goals and treasures will come alive in a chorus of joy and satisfaction
It is also the only way that man can come to a point of being raised to his highest attainable level as a human being and in that state, boredom is only a distant mirage!
- IS CHRISTIANITY DIVIDED?