Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Well, according to one source (ahrefs.com), here are the top 10 words searched for on Google:
7. yahoo mail
Number 5 seems a little strange. People use google to search for google? Anywho!?
With the exception of the word "weather," all these are companies and/or services.
Something to watch. Somebody to talk to. Some item to buy. That's what Americans are searching for on their phones, watches, computers, tablets, and presumably on the personal assistants we call "smart speakers."
Entertainment. Friendship. Possessions. Those seem to be the dominant themes here. Plus maybe one more category: information. People are curious. People are searching. Always searching for something.
In 1st Kings 3 we read that young Solomon asked God for wisdom; understanding; discernment. That was what he was searching for. But something that is equally interesting is the list of things that God responded with (as the things that would naturally have been expected to be a part of Solomon's petition): 1. long life, 2. riches, and/or 3. safety/peace (perhaps that is victory over his enemies). It seems safe to interpret God's reply as an enumeration of the things most people would ask for if given Solomon's golden opportunity.
What is it that we are searching for anyway? I mean on the most basic and fundamental level, we crave certain things. We also need certain things. But our desires and our necessities don't always correlate.
Tell you what, I will look within and evaluate honestly. You look within and see what you find. David wrote "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Psalm 4:4). So, commune with your own heart for a few minutes.
Of course we have fundamental physical needs: oxygen, food, water, shelter. Our survival as individuals depends on such things. As a group, the needs of humanity are a little broader. For sure, we need to procreate. We need to be able to defend ourselves from threats and dangers. We need purpose. We need love.
Some might describe these as the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Others might prefer to point to our most basic responsibilities. We are responsible for taking care of ourselves and for those around us who depend on us. We are responsible for such things as justice, respect for life and property, telling the truth, preparing for the future, and surely there are many other basic responsibilities that I haven't thought of in this moment.
The fallout of "a-need-not-being-met" is not necessarily equal for every need, or at the least the rate of disaster and destruction is not always equal. For example, I can survive without food longer than I can without water. And, I can survive without water longer than I can without air. But all are necessary.
On a psychological and spiritual plane, I need significance. I crave it. I want it.
And, I need to last; to endure. I have a strong sense of self-preservation.
I want peace. I want safety. I want comfort.
I want happiness. Not just moments of happiness, but perpetual and permanent happiness.
I want to understand. I feel like I need to understand. Life needs to make sense to me. I feel a deep need to understand the rules of life and to be able to know for sure what is expected of me.
Think of the fundamental questions of life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
It is my contention that none of these most important questions can be answered with materialistic tools. There is certainly good evidence and information in the natural world, but not full and complete answers. Likewise my most fundamental needs and desires can't be met or satisfied by material things.
Only God can satisfy.
We were created by Him and for Him. In Him we move and breathe and have our being.
That is not to say that since I found Christ I have been nothing but satisfied. I have been dissatisfied many times. Much of the time even. My human nature fights tooth and toenail for jurisdiction. While through the Spirit of Christ in me I have all that I need in order for the to know and to experience complete fulfillment, I only enjoy that realization in proportion to the degree that I die to self and live to God. And I fail in this frequently. Likely far more often than I even realize.
The emptiness and vanity that I wrestle with stems from my depravity, never from my new birth. The only hollowness that results from my regeneration is the hollowness that my former vices now hold. In other words, the sins that once occupied my attention fully and distracted me constantly are now only frustrating detours.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love? Yes.
But my heart is also sealed for the courts above. He has given me a new heart that can do no wrong. As I love to remind myself and others, we are partakers of the divine nature. That which is born from above can't sin (1st John 3:9). And if there is no sin then there is no curse; no pain; no death; so sadness. I mean that in the most absolute sense, of course. But even on a microcosmic and temporary scale, sin creates a vacuum. Pascal's "God-shaped hole" in every man's heart is shaped like our infinite creator. If we attempt to fill it with finite infractions (which is really just an attempt to fill it with ourselves) then without exception there will be an awful vacuum in our heart. There is simply not enough sin and fleshly pleasure in a whole lifetime of evil pursuits to quench the hunger that only God can appease.
What everyone is really searching for is God. He is the desire of all nations which will come (Haggai 2:7). Of course, truly nobody is searching for God. We should be searching. But we are not. Absolutely nobody is. He searches for us, not the other way around. But while nobody is actually looking for Him, yet He is the pearl of great price. He is the exceeding great reward that Abraham found. It's like we all have a gnawing hunger for something we've never even tasted. We know it's out there. We know HE is out there. But we keep our heads down and seek for an eagle in the dust. We end up searching for an endless stream of distractions and diversions that we hope (either consciously or subconsciously) will keep us from having to deal with the questions that truly eat at us (also a concept postulated by Pascal). And sadly, some men succeed. Some men find enough money, power, fame, and curiosities to entertain themselves until they escape this life. But what a tragedy! Such success is the greatest of all curses.
Wrong answers to the wrong questions inoculate many and desensitize them to the point that they can't even ASK the right questions. And even if they do occasionally ask the right questions, without an infusion of God's grace every man is utterly incapable of coming to the right conclusions.
Ultimately, we are not searching for the things that we actually need. We are searching for plastic beads in a pile of diamonds; for gravel in a gold mine; we fight and scratch to become king of the hill. But the hill is a dunghill. We don't know what we are looking for. Our boredom condemns us; or else our thrills condemn us. Satan uses both numbness and an endless plethora of worldly addictions.
Praise God for the Good Shepherd who goes searching for His lost sheep. If it weren't for Him, we would have no hope.