Is there meaning to this madness? Is it just a rat race and then nothing but a cold, silent, and rotten end? Do we live for a mere inscription on a tomb? An inscription that will inevitably fade with the passage of time?
“When you see a man often wearing the robe of office, when you see one whose name is famous in the Forum, do not envy him; those things are bought at the price of life. They will waste all their years, in order that they may have one year reckoned by their name… Some, when they have crawled up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity, have been possessed by the unhappy thought that they have but toiled for an inscription on a tomb” (“On the Shortness of Life“).
Christ gives much more to live for. Christ gives us motivation for going “through a thousand indignities.” Christ gives meaning and motivation because through His resurrection our labor in the Lord—whatever it is—is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)! We can please the Lord and work heartedly unto the Lord in whatever we do (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23-24)!
So, the goal of a Christian is not to “wear the robe of office” or be “famous in the Forum.” The goal of a Christian is to put a smile on the face of God their Father and hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Perhaps that will entail being famous in the Forum or wearing the robe of office but the Christian is indifferent. The Christian’s goal is the same whether a pauper a prince: “He must become greater; I must become less” (Jn. 3:10). Christians know that when they do what’s right, they are still unworthy servants; who have only done what was their duty (Lk. 17:10).
So, no; we, or at least Christians, do not live for an inscription on a tomb. But rather for the One who forever takes us beyond the tomb. We live for the veil to lift so we can see the full marvelous glory of God; so we can continually taste of the goodness of God. It is about God and His glory. He deserves all glory and our very purpose is found in enjoying His glory and glorifying Him in the myriads ways that He has called us to.
Christians “crawl” up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity of eternal and endless delight.
So, no matter what they tell us, or no matter what we feel, there is a telos. There is a point. There is meaning.
Our end does not have to be the grave because of God.