These questions have undoubtedly traveled through each of our minds at some point in our lives. At times when others have brushed us aside or hurt us, we may have wondered seriously if our life matters. If there was something that we were sure was right that ends up failing we may ask, "What is my purpose?" In this article, I will attempt to direct us to the Lord’s answers to these questions. My belief is that your life has significance, and that your contribution is significant.
The first question, "Why am I alive?" is not exactly a new one. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah asked it in Jeremiah 20:18. He asks, "Why was I ever born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?" Now there have probably been times in your life when you felt that way, too. When you are going through a difficult time you may have asked, "Was I born just to have a bunch of problems? Was I put on this planet just to have heartache, grief and stress?" For some people this becomes too much, to the point that they contemplate suicide.
What is the answer? Here are what two well known people have said: Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist said, "I don’t know the meaning, the purpose of life, but it looks as if something were meant by it." Isaac Asimov, an atheist and prolific science fiction author, wrote, "As far as I can see, there is no purpose." It is not surprising that someone who has removed God from the equation comes to this conclusion. You see, if you take God out of the equation, you don’t really have very many satisfying alternatives.
You can try one of many philosophical approaches to answer the question. For example, a survivalist says, "The purpose of life is just to stay alive." In other words, live as long as you can. The Naturalist says, "The purpose of life is just to perpetuate itself." In other words, you’re just here for biological reasons. Not very inspiring. The Hedonist writes, "The purpose of life is pleasure, to have fun, and party." The Materialist says, "Life is all about the acquisition of things." Your life is measured by the things you own. Again, not very satisfying answers.
You can also try the Self–Help approach. You can go into any bookstore and find many books that talk about discovering your life purpose. They say: "You’ve got to invent your purpose." "You’ve got to create your own purpose in life." And they tend to give the same basic approach: discover your dreams, go after your goals, have some ambitions, dream big dreams, aim high, believe you can achieve, figure out what you’re good at, never give up.
Now this is all good advice and if you do those things, they can make you a success in temporal ways – job, money, position, etc. But being a success and knowing your purpose in life are not the same thing. You can be a raving success in life and still never know, "What did God put me on this earth for?" We need to know that the purpose of our life is far greater than our own personal fulfillment. It’s far greater than our own happiness – though that is part of it.
It is far greater than even our own peace of mind, and yet that is part of it. You were made by God for a very specific purpose. And it is not about you! Does that sound disappointing? How many people do you know who set out to make themselves happy and actually came back happy? Many divorces come about because one person in the relationship decides, "I’ve got to take care of my needs—to look out for number one." But that is not what you agreed to with your partner when you committed to each other in a marriage covenant, and it is not what you agreed to when you decided to have children. The parable in the New Testament about the Prodigal Son provides a great example. In the story the youngest of two sons asks his father for his inheritance so he can ‘go and do my thing.’ After a series of bad choices and disappointments he comes to his senses and goes back to his father, asking to be a servant in his household. He was greeted by his father with the best robe, a feast, sandals for his feet and a ring for his finger – all signs of his father’s love and acceptance of him. You see, what his father had in store was much better than what he could provide for himself.
This story is, of course, about us, when we fall away from the Lord’s plan, and about how He loves us and accepts us whenever we are ready to turn to Him. The Lord’s plan for us is full of so much goodness and happiness. And until we understand this, life isn’t going to make sense.
So Why Are We Here?
Why are we alive? Why are we on this planet? Is there a reason? The Lord’s purpose in creating us is that there may be an angelic heaven from the human race. The Lord says this in many places in the Writings – it is as clear as can be. It is also pictured in many places in Scripture: in the Garden of Eden God created humankind and set them there in a wonderful place; in the Lord’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — "I will make you a great nation;" in the Lord’s promise of the "Promised Land" for the Children of Israel; when Jesus was on earth He talked about heaven all the time; then there is the description of the Holy City in the book of Revelation. And each time the promise is given, there are also instructions on how to achieve this state of life.
There is a thing called the Divine Providence—which is a name for the governance of the Lord by means of His love and wisdom. This force has for its primary end in view a heaven from the human race. So if the Lord owned a corporation this would be His mission statement: "To provide that there may be a heaven from the human race." We are all created to go there and contribute to the good of that kingdom. Now some people believe that heaven is like a cruise ship or resort. When you go there you are served and have eternal rest. If that were the correct answer, to get there we would have to practice doing leisurely activities. If heaven is a place where we sit on clouds playing harps then we best get practicing, because this world is the preparation zone for heaven. But you’ll notice that we are not practicing those things. Instead we are practicing doing what angels in heaven do. We are practicing loving God, contributing to the common good of the community, learning truths and living by those truths, serving and being useful, freely sharing all that we have with others. It is these things that reflect what the Lord’s purposes are for us.
We have lots of choices about what to do with our lives. But our purpose is not really up for discussion. Whether we fulfill it or not is up to us. And whether we are happy or not is also up to us. Living as the Lord intends and according to His will is the source of our happiness.
If you want to understand the meaning of life and your purpose in life, you do it by getting to know the Lord. The more you get to know the Lord, the more you’re going to understand the ways and the wisdom of the Lord and the more you’re going to understand the meaning and purpose of life. And this will take time. So you need to commit time to this. You need to make a choice to do this. We are taught that, "Every smallest moment of your life involves a series of consequences extending to eternity, each moment being as a new beginning to those which follow" (Secrets of Heaven 3854). As you read this, know that this could be a significant moment for you. If you make a choice to live as the Lord intends and to fulfill His purpose for your life, it will have a great impact on your spiritual life.
You were created for a very special purpose. The Lord made you because He loves you and wants you to be happy. He made you because there is something you can do that no one can do in the same way. What will you do, now that you know this?