Here’s an honest thought: There are times I wish I was dead.
I’m not suicidal – I don’t want to kill myself – but I’m not averse to the idea of death: Wouldn’t it be nice to one day sleep and never wake up? It seems so peaceful, being detached from the pain and suffering on earth.
Life often seems like a cycle of repeated patterns: Sleep. Work. Eat. Repeat. There seems to be no end – no meaning to the things I’m doing. What’s the point of trudging through life?
A friend once told me that his purpose for living is to make the world a better place for the generations to come. He wants to leave behind a legacy like Edison or Einstein did. He wants to impact the world so that no one would forget he existed.
It’s a noble cause, but it doesn’t resonate with me. We can certainly improve people’s lives, but in the grander scheme of things, will we ever change the world?
I’m not the first to think about the meaning of life. King Solomon dedicated the entire book of Ecclesiastes to this topic alone. After spending 12 chapters lamenting the futility of life, he concludes in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 that the only purpose behind it all is to know God and keep His commandments.
To know God and to keep His commandments.
Similar reasons for living are found in other parts of the Bible. To have a relationship with Him (1 John 3:1); to grow in Christlikeness (Romans 8:28-29), to usher others back to Him before it’s too late (Ephesians 3:8-12).
Increasingly, I’m seeing that our time on earth is simply a period of preparation for our future in eternity.
So as I seriously questioned the purpose for my existence earlier this year, I was convicted that there must be a reason why I’m alive. There must be a reason for my life. And I concluded that life – our time on earth and what we do – is only meaningful in light of eternity.
Recently I attended an event where numerous Singaporean missionaries gathered together. There, the missionaries shared personal stories of what they’d seen and experienced, travelling to some of the most dangerous parts of the world to share the Gospel. Think the Congo in Central Africa.
The weight of reality suddenly came crashing down on me as I listened to story after story of prisoners, prostitutes and broken people.
That night, I felt a bit of the Father’s heart for His suffering children. I realised how myopic I had been all this while. I was so caught up with myself I failed to recognise there were many other lives out there waiting to be touched – desperate for salvation.
I’m not just talking about building houses for the impoverished or providing the starving with food. Those are important, but beyond meeting the physical needs of this life, what difference was I making to their eternity? Where would they go when they die?
A life lived for oneself is short, but a life lived for God reaps eternal value.
I know many people who work hard for achievements. For a legacy. But I’m not one of them. I don’t see the value of that, especially when death can so easily take it all away.
Unlike my friend whose focus considers only this lifetime, I want to leave those around me with something even death cannot touch or snatch away. I want to show them the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
Because in the end, there’s only one thing that has an eternal impact: The lives we help to save and the souls we point back to God.
Nothing else has lasting significance. A life lived for oneself is short, but a life lived for God reaps eternal value (1 Corinthians 15:58). It’s counterintuitive, but I truly believe that within this manner of living lies the meaning of life.