Finding something to do each day is usually not a problem. For most of us, we have a never-ending to-do list.
But sometimes it’s easy to feel bogged down with it all. Or pressured. Or bored with the same old things. Or maybe even wondering if we’re on the right track. What can really give us joy in the midst of all our busyness?
Finding the purpose of life gives us the foundation, the perspective, and the deep joy that we need in order to keep going with a sense of victory, no matter how hard it might be from day to day.
A Hit-and-Run Made Me Question the Purpose of Life
In November 1982, I was in one of my classes at St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College), and a friend from my home church was in the same class. I’ll never forget what Maurice told me before we left the classroom that day. A girl in our church, Lisa, had been killed by a drunk driver. She was 14.
Lisa had gone to stay overnight at a friend’s house. While the two girls were taking a walk, they were both hit by a drunk driver and killed. It was a hit-and-run, but eventually the driver was tracked down. He was actually someone they knew.
It was devastating. Hard to even comprehend.
Suddenly I found myself asking, “What is the purpose of life?”
You’d think I would have known by then, but it was Lisa’s death that God used to cause me to seriously ask the question and to fervently begin looking for the answer.
Now, before I go into what I found to be the answer, I want to make an important point:
A person doesn’t have to be able to articulate in precise words what the purpose of life is in order to be saved. Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins when He died on the cross in our place. He conquered sin and death by dying and then coming to life again. When you believe in Him, and trust that He took the punishment for your sin so you can be right with God and know Him, and you let Him be in charge of your life, you become a new person. You have real life, eternal life. (See John 17:3.)
Lisa, at the age of 14, may or may not have been able to succinctly explain the purpose of life. But she knew Jesus, and she went to be with Him. I prayed for the man who was driving the car — that he would find real life like Lisa had.
I had known Jesus for a long time already, but I had never really questioned my “purpose” before. So while Lisa was rejoicing with Jesus in heaven, the rest of us here had a whole lot of questions. For me, after her unexpected death, I had a great need to really understand what the purpose of life was.
I hadn’t heard (or at least didn’t remember) the Westminster catechism which says that our purpose “is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” So I just started looking up verses and trying to put them together to find the answer.
What I found from studying Scripture was that the purpose of life is to praise and glorify God and enjoy belonging to Him.
If our purpose in life is to praise and glorify God and enjoy belonging to Him, that’s the “What”. But what’s the “Why?”
There are times in my life when I can be quite satisfied with a “What.” But there are other times when I NEED a “Why”!
I suppose we could say that the “Why” of praising God is because it’s our purpose in life. But going in circles, no matter how logical it may be, doesn’t help the understanding of our hearts a whole lot. There must be more to the “Why” than that.
The Bible tells us about various reasons to praise God — all very important reasons. For example, we praise Him because He is our God, our strength, our salvation, and He has done great and awesome things for us. Actually, I suppose there are tons of “why’s” that we could list out.
But one particular reason especially stood out to me one day. It hit me like a ton of … I don’t know. I can’t think of the word. It certainly wasn’t bricks, because it was soft, not hard. But it wasn’t ice cream, because it was deep and meaningful. … An ocean. That’s it. Like a huge wave that knocked over anything of lesser importance, gave me a type of refreshment that I desperately needed, and provided a sustenance that would keep me going in new strength for the rest of my life.
Cancer Helped Put Things in Perspective
In 2010, I got the news that no one ever expects to get. Breast cancer. Our four children were only 11, 9, 8, and 6 at the time.
A couple months later, lying in my bed after having a mastectomy, a particular song was going through my mind. As my 8-year-old daughter, Charisa, sat by my bedside, I asked her to get a hymnbook and see if the song was in it. It was.
It’s called, “Thy Loving Kindness,” and it comes from Psalm 63:3-4.
I asked Charisa to read those Bible verses to me. I don’t know how many times I had read the verses before, but it had never hit me like that.
If I live to see all my kids grow up, great. If not, we have what is most important — God’s love, no matter what.
Nothing can separate me from His love. Nothing can compare, or compete with, or be better than His love.
No lack of anything here on earth is really any problem, because He cares for me. No amount of blessing here on earth is anything to put my hope in, because He Himself is worth more than even the things He gives me.
He loves me. He saved me. He is everything to me. His love is even better than life! And because of that, I praise and glorify Him, and enjoy belonging to Him. Wow!
The “How” is Another Question
For me, the big “What” and “Why” came years apart. But in between, there was a “How” that deeply impacted my life.
But first, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.