Finding Meaning and Purpose in Life's Journey

Published on May 1, 2017 10:36:09 AM - Modified on April 1, 2019 2:33:04 PM - Written by Robert Chambers

Human beings were created in the image of God with the prospect of living with Him in eternity. Choices made by humankind not only affect the quality of life on the earth but also what happens beyond the grave. We must not allow physical distractions to deter us from fulfilling God's expectations. His promises are real and the stakes for humanity are high.

Life has its ups and downs.

When you get right down to it, human life is a pretty amazing thing. We are born in a state of total dependency, gradually growing and developing to exercise independence in adulthood. Along the way, we learn by moving about, thinking, and exploring the world through whatever senses we possess to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. A typical lifetime offers a host of pleasures arising from opportunities to experience happiness, the satisfaction of personal accomplishment, and the fulfillment of love. That includes meeting and interacting with many others, forming relationships, and perhaps even starting families of our own. These are indeed some of life's greatest blessings.

There is, however, more to the story. We also must deal with the harsh realities of life. In addition to satisfying the basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing, we must cope with challenges arising from jobs, school, health, family, and friends. Frequently, it seems like there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be done. When the stress felt from the repeating cycle of life’s demands is coupled with unexpected tragedies, even the strongest among us can be overwhelmed. Then life's drudgery and pain turn to utter despair. As this happens, blessings are forgotten quickly, and life’s meaning and purpose often come into question. Many simply give up.

Do not be deceived by materialism.

Among those who view humans as just another animal and product of evolutionary chance, life’s outlook is bleak, and prospects are limited. Under this worldview, there is nothing beyond the grave. The fortunate live a prosperous, healthy life filled with all the physical pleasures they can grab, only to die at a ripe, old age. In the opposite extreme, individuals succumb to poor health or misfortune and are robbed of both quality and quantity of life. The remaining vast majority fall somewhere in between, experiencing a little of both. Regardless, the futility of life and the finality of death drive these folks to pursue all the pleasures that life has to offer. In the end, they are without hope and left with nothing. What a pitiful existence it would be, if this worldview was true. Fortunately, it is not!

Humans are here by God's design, not by chance.

Every physical thing in the universe can be traced to God. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). That marked the start of a timeline that heretofore simply had not existed. Space, matter, and energy were brought forth and shaped by the will of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being. Because the universe had a beginning and was not formed from visible things already present (Heb. 11:3), we know God cannot be physical in nature. God is a spirit (Gen. 1:2; John 4:24) functioning from another realm that encompasses, transcends, and is totally independent of the known universe (Psalm 90:2; 139:7-12). That is what makes God eternal, existing outside the bounds of time itself. Since the universe and everything in it were created by God (Exod. 20:11), humanity exists as part of God's design, and our life belongs to Him. We are merely stewards of a human body on loan to us from God. That gives Him the right to direct and limit our behavior as He sees fit and makes us responsible for meeting His expectations. God has revealed His will and expectations for humanity through the inspired text of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Humans are special - sharing a spiritual bond with the Creator.

After making the earth a suitable habitat for living creatures (Gen. 1:1-25), God created humankind in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). In addition to having a physical body of flesh and blood (Gen. 2:7), Adam and Eve were bestowed with a spirit just as God is a spirit. This distinguishes humanity from all other life forms. By possessing both a spirit and a physical body (1 Cor. 2:11), humankind is assured of an existence beyond the grave because the spirit is eternal. When the physical body dies and returns to the dust of the ground, the spirit transitions into the spiritual realm returning to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Life on earth is “just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). The bulk of our existence resides as a spirit in eternity. What takes place after death is more important because death transitions the spirit to its permanent end state.

Adam and Eve received physical guidance from God.

From the very beginning of creation, God established roles and work for humankind. The first man and woman were to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, subdue the planet, and have dominion over all other living creatures (Gen. 1:28). To equip humanity for survival, God supplied every plant yielding seed and every tree that has fruit yielding seed for food (Gen. 1:29). This provided meaningful work to be done. Specifically, the first man, Adam, was assigned the task of cultivating and maintaining the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). By authorizing humans to take charge of the world, God provided the challenges that have embraced all productive activities over the years including things like:

  • Taking personal responsibility for ourselves (1 Thess. 4:11) and helping others (Eph. 4:28; 1 John 3:17)
  • Exercising proper stewardship over all that God has made for us
  • Learning by studying the earth and all the life within
  • Discovering the laws of nature that God has imposed on the universe
  • Harnessing the acquired knowledge for the common good of humanity
By His directives, God effectively authorized the foundation of science and technology. This was a very practical way for God to reveal Himself to humankind. What better way than to dazzle us with such vastness, complexity, and delicate balance found in the existence of life and workings of the universe? As Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." Unfortunately, the preoccupation with physical pursuits often gets in the way of the greater spiritual Truths. This can lead to a life lived in vain.

God's spiritual directive for humans is to be holy.

Being created in the image of God, Adam and Eve not only possessed an eternal spirit but also were instilled with other God-like qualities including emotions, the ability to think, and a free will to make choices for themselves. Furthermore, they were granted a purity and innocence of character possessing a goodness, righteousness, and wholesomeness patterned after the holy nature of the God. It was God’s desire for humanity to accept Him as a Heavenly Father and choose to remain holy just as God is holy (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). Only by following after God and being holy (i.e., set apart from all sin and evil) can we maintain a spiritual bond of fellowship that will carry us into eternity with God. It is that spiritual bond that provides hope beyond the grave.

Humanity has a duty to acknowledge God.

Solomon clearly demonstrated the vanity in pursuing the temporary possessions and pleasures of the world (Ecclesiastes). Our contact with these things will vanish when the body returns to the dust of the ground. It is the spirit that will endure in eternity. The question is: where will our spirit reside? Will it be with God in Heaven or separated from God in Hell? The answer to this question is what provides meaning and purpose to life. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Jesus admonished his apostles saying: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Solomon in his wisdom declared: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalms 111:10).


The meaning and purpose in life's journey comes from preparing for eternity. This involves:
  • Acknowledging God as the Creator
  • Learning His expectations for humanity through the things He has revealed in the written words of the Bible
  • Submitting to His will in obedience of faith
These things secure hope beyond the grave and make even the most difficult journey worthwhile.