The Burden of Boredom
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:24-26
One of the reasons often given by young people for getting into trouble is the burden of boredom. School bores them, certain friends bore them, church bores them, their parents and family bore them, the world bores them, even the Creator of it all bores them. They have developed a hunger for something – anything – that will pull them out of boredom by entertaining their senses and removing the malaise from their life. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize the source of a boring life or its remedy. Hence, Neil Postman’s classic 1985 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death. Postman writes about not just young people’s typical boredom, but modern society’s boredom, propelling it to every imaginable contrivance to be entertained and sustain its insatiable appetite for amusement; possibly to escape stress and worry, but not always. I saw a sign the other day that read, “Desserts is stressed spelled backwards, implying if you want to be rid of “stressed, seek out “desserts – and not just sweet food. Not unlike radio’s paranoid fear of an unplanned, embarrassing silence on the airwaves, society is traumatized when experiencing even a fragment of time devoid of amusement.
Frankly, I cannot relate to this deadening of the mind inscribed with the words “I’m bored! My mother might beg to differ with me, but as far back as I can stir my memory, I cannot remember ever being bored; and I was reared for a time without, God forbid, TV, video games, or movies. I spent a great deal of time as a PK (pastor’s kid) in church, which for most of the bored is the epitome of “Boresville. Still, when I consider the world in which God has placed us to live, while not the paradise of Eden prior to the curse, I/we can still in this sin-filled world exclaim with the Psalmist, “How manifold [numerous, abundant, complex, exciting, fascinating, et cetera] are your works, O God. Or the entire 8th Psalm! I always had a curiosity about life and the world and even alone was well occupied. “Bored” was just not a part of my vocabulary in describing me or my life. I never cease to thank God for a heritage of godly parents and a home infused with spiritual purpose and service. I have to say that I now understand that having the presence of the Creator within one’s inner being is the compelling inspiration of the soul to be curious with awe and wonder about a world so intelligently made. The bored are not so blessed as to have this environmental incubator from which to be hatched into adulthood.
In an article in World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote, “Boredom is less a matter of what’s going on around us than what’s happening, or not happening, inside. It is a difficult task, as we at the Paul Anderson Youth Home are well aware, to expel the boredom from young people’s minds by exciting their souls to the wonder of the world and its majestic Creator. Boredom is actually an integral element of sorrow and depression which can lead to loss of desire to even continue living. Consequently, teen suicide is on the rise. Again, we catch the drift of Postman’s premise “Amusing Ourselves to Death. Typical amusements become boring with time when they do not nurture an eternal purpose or feed what God has put in us: a hope for eternity. When in our work or play we cease to be engaged in eternally purposeful activity, or do not understand how and why what we do and think is eternally meaningful, hope is drowned in the boredom which is the result. Boredom is the absence of any confidence that what we do and think is significant for eternity.
Are you bored? There is not the least bit of spiritual logic for the Christian to live in boredom other than being blinded by his own sin. I well remember when in the 7th grade I was fitted for my first pair of contact lenses. In my vanity I had refused to wear glasses before and did not understand that I was missing a whole lot. A new world opened to me. It was astounding. I could see details that before were not there. This is not unlike what we who are Christians are to be about. Our own genuine wonder and delight in God’s amazing world ought to be “eye-opening and intriguing to the bored people we engage daily. They need to meet and you need to lead them to your Optometrist.
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