What is our purpose in life? Many great thinkers of the ages have struggled with the answers to this hard question. Scrutiny seems to simply cause more inquiry such as: How and why does the Lord create evil or allow it? Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?
If there is a loving God who loves us, why does He allow so many bad things to happen – causing people to want to exit the planet? Suicides are now epidemic with all the ugliness, pain, and suffering in the world. Victims of this horrible resolution have even infected our youth at an alarming rate.
One individual who suffered from doubt and lack of hope was C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. During his teenage and apostate years, he felt that the strongest force for atheism was expressed in a poem of Lucretius:
“Had God designed the world, it would not be A world so frail and faulty as we see.” Lucretius
How can we help individuals who are void of hope? How can we best help ourselves and one another better understand the purpose of life? How can we best help people who are suicidal? The soul is eternal, and suicide will only lead to regret on the other side of the veil.
Hope and an Answer
C.S. Lewis, after suffering from doubt and hope for many years, found the answer to his own struggle.
“Once people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will believe in nothing; rather the problem is they will believe in anything.” C.S. Lewis
After going through his own apostasy, he becoming one of Christianity’s most avid advocates.
Hope, Yet Unanswered Questions
Albert Schweitzer — considered by some to be the greatest humanitarian and one of the greatest thinkers of the last century — was a devout student of the teachings of Jesus. In all of his 80 years of learning, Dr. Schweitzer could not answer the “great questions: What is the meaning of evil in the world? ” (Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought)
He left these questions unanswered but with knowledge of God’s love, he focused his life on loving by relieving the sufferings of others. In The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám — the great Persian thinker — Omar struggled with the same questions, and after listening to the world’s philosophers discuss these questions, he said, “I went out by the same door wherein I went.” (The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám)
The questions remained unanswered!
Does all this pain and suffering have a Divine purpose? If God love’s us, why does he allow so much pain and suffering?
A Profound Answers
C.S. Lewis offers two simple but profound answers to Schweitzer’s concern.
“We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life.” C.S. Lewis
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis
What is Life’s Ultimate Purpose
The heart of Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of happiness, with all of our imperfections in mortality, is agency (free choice). As pre-mortal spirit offspring of God (Acts 17:28), we rejoiced with anticipation for the opportunity to come to earth and gain a physical body to house our intelligence and spirit body. (Job 38:7)
But we also knew in that premortal sphere that Satan and his angels rebelled against God’s plan – causing a war in heaven — and God purposely cast them down to the earth. (Rev. 12:7-9) God’s plan is a plan of joy; Satan’s plan is one of suffering and misery. The eternal law of opposition in all things exists so that we can grow. It is not God, but Satan and his angels, and “Man’s inhumanity to man that makes countless thousands mourn.” (Robert Burns) God allows it; He does not cause it — respecting our agency (unhindered choice). If we will, great lessons can be learned from life’s challenges and experiences. God can turn every evil into good with important lessons learned in the process.
Father Abraham was told by the Lord, “We will go down…, and make an earth whereon these may dwell. And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” (Abraham 3:24-25) In Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the definition of “prove” is: “To Try; to ascertain some unknown quality or truth by an experiment, or by a test or standard.” And the most important commandment He asks of us is to love Him and love our neighbor, as ourselves. The “standard” is the perfect life of Jesus the Christ. Life is a grand “experiment,” an opportunity to come to know the Father and the Son, which is eternal life and to be one with them. (John 17:3-24) Learning God’s truths and the mysteries of godliness are some of the greatest joys in life – helping us to enjoy the abundant life here that Jesus promised. (John 10:10)
There are those who believe life is a test. For me, that is too harsh coming from an infinite loving Heavenly Father. Again, If we go to the 1928 dictionary for the definition of “Probation” – a common word used in the Book of Mormon to describe life’s journey: “Moral trial; the state of man in the present life, in which he has the opportunity of proving his character and being qualified for a happier state.” This definition lines up beautifully with, “they who keep their second estate [come unto Christ here in mortality] shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.” (Abr. 3:26) So, the purpose of life is to come unto Christ and rejoice in the grand opportunity to show our love to Heavenly Father, to our Savior, and His Children, which brings the greatest of blessings in this life and the greatest of honor and glory to us in the life to come, as we help ourselves and others to get there through God’s grace and the infinite atonement of our Lord and Savior. “For He is the way, the truth, and the life.”(John 14:6)
Satan and his angels, in opposition, are doing everything they can to get in the way of us doing that. In contrast, the Savior says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
As we come unto Him, we find peace, love, and joy. We have this great promise from scripture:
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves… Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2:25-27)
Viewed From an Eternal Perspective
When viewed from an eternal perspective, life is a grand opportunity to prepare ourselves for an “extraordinary destiny” as well as experience the saving grace of an ever-loving Savior, who will bring us back to our infinitely loving Heavenly Father and a fullness of joy. In that process, we can spiritually feel His loving arms around us as we come unto Him. Here in mortality, we also have the sacred experience of having a physical body, and while here, the Savior will also help us find the “abundant life.” The infinite atonement provides us with a glorious resurrected body. Let us rejoice in this eternal perspective, as we come unto Him, who will bring us back home and to a fullness of joy.
Knowing this purpose for life, everyone would want to do his/her best appreciating the enormous and incomprehensible blessings and glories an infinitely Loving Father has in store for each of His children through the infinite atonement of His Beloved Son. Life is not a test, but a glorious opportunity to partake of the fullness of God’s love here and hereafter.
David W. Allan
P.S. I deal with many challenging questions in more depth in Chapter 2 of my book: ItsAboutTimeBook, giving a broader view of life’s purpose.
Other helpful links for this blog article:
How to help stop suicides.
Do you know someone who has lost faith?
Do you know someone who has lost faith because of evolution?
How to increase your faith in God.
Knowing of a gospel society beyond the New Testament!
Our son, Sterling, made these insightful suggestions regarding life’s challenges:
- God will not give us a trial we cannot handle.
- So a big trial is a compliment.
- We should be grateful for our trials, knowing they help us grow.
- We were in on the planning of our life before we were born, especially the trials we would have and how we could grow as a result.
- Such an awareness is very impowering and takes the edge off.
- A positive attitude and faith in God further accelerates the growth that can come from our trials.
- Regarding Our Purpose in Life, the most important thing we can do in life is to find out why we, specifically, are here on earth, and embrace our unique calling, all in, for good. (See Eph. 4:1)
I would add that the Kingdom of Heaven is perfectly organized with the Lord’s angels to assist us and teaching us the words of Christ that will “show unto you all things what ye should do,” if we will but ask, seek, and knock. (Matt 7:7-8; 2 Nephi 32:3-5)
What Is Life’s EternalPurpose?