Deep in each of our hearts is a part of us that longs to know the meaning of life. It is something that philosophers have argued over for centuries. Yet, if you can make sense of all that they’ve written, you may well wonder if they have any answers at all.
It is too important a question to be left to philosophers. It is a question that a child can ask, and attempt to answer, yet one that a president can fall over. But for all our asking through all of history, many of us still aren’t sure of our answer.
A question we feel
It is not just a question of the mind; it is something that we feel. Somewhere inside of each of us we want to feel there is a purpose to our life and when we don’t have the answer to that, there is a hole that aches. Unless we know the meaning of life, how can we truly live?
Live for your dream
Between us, we try to fill that hole in many different ways. Sometimes we look for the answer in what we do. We take something that we are good at and enjoy and to throw our energy into that. It may be a hobby, a sport, or a career. Yet, whether it’s train spotting or free climbing, running a business or baking cupcakes, the satisfaction it brings doesn’t quite hit that spot.
Live for the moment
There are philosophers who think that the answer to the question is that there is no answer. While they may not think it through, there are many who live out that philosophy. They live for the pleasure of the moment with little thought to the future. Apart from the style of music, “sex, drugs and rock and roll” is not new to human behaviour. Thousands of years ago, a prophet wrote:
But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! ‘Let us eat and drink,’ you say, ‘for tomorrow we die! Isaiah 22:13
Many live like that and seem little affected by it; others wreck their lives and drift to the fringes of society. Yet underneath each is running from a question that they cannot answer.
Live for one another
There are other questions that take us nearer to the answer we are looking for. Why, for example, are we often least satisfied when we try to satisfy ourselves, most fully satisfied when we try to bring happiness to others? Instead of in what we do, is the answer in relationships?
It feels like it should be. If those that live for the moment end up chasing one sugar rush after another; those that are in good relationships seem to have a diet that gives long term health. More than what we achieve, more than how we push the boundaries in our wild moments, more than anything else, our relationships seem to define who we are.
And yet. And yet deep inside us there is still something that isn’t fully satisfied. Over time, even the best relationships disappoint. It feels like we’re asking them to do something that they’re not made to do.
Live for God
Surely there must be an answer? For us, as Christians, there is. We believe that we are created in the image of God and with a desire in the depth of our hearts to be in relationship with that God.
Put that one piece in place, and everything else falls into place too. Once the foundation is there, and you stop leaning on things that were never meant to be the answer, those things become what they should be.
We can enjoy being the best that we can be without it being what defines us; we can celebrate life with food and drink without living for the moment and we have the tools to make the very best of our relationships, and yet still have somewhere to go when they disappoint.
Meaning of life sorted, what next?
If only it were that easy. It is true that once you have understood what life is for, you can truly live it, but that doesn’t mean that life will be easy.
There will still be unanswered questions. However, now there is an overwhelming sense that there are answers – we just haven’t found them yet. In many ways, fixing the hole in our heart frees us to ask questions without fear.