Finding Meaning in Life
In recent times I have experienced a renewed fascination about the subject-matter of finding meaning in life especially as I reflect over the numerous questions raised by people about the meaning of life amidst incessant killings by terrorists and ritualists, outbreak of diseases, poverty, famine, drought, legalization of abortion, hardships of several degrees, and economic recessions of many nations. On the other hand I have become more challenged by some figures/personalities and how they have lived their lives irrespective of life challenges especially, St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), St. Pope John Paul II, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Viktor Frankl. Moreover persons like the Australian evangelist and motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, thrills me more and have heightened my sense of wonder about life as I see somebody that is armless and limbless, yet full of vitality and focus in his drive in giving people hope and meaning about life!
One area that spiritual persons need to engage in and find its meaning is the meaning of life. You may be spiritually minded and undertake numerous popular devotions and pieties and yet miss the target of life – its meaning! In every sane human person, there is the search for meaning in life. Hence, the zest and quest to satisfy our longings. You hear people say: If I marry, surely things will change. If I can win that lottery, then, I can surely surmount many hurdles in life. If I can earn a Master’s degree and a PhD degree, then I can be sure of conquering the world and life generally. If I possess that business empire surely I will control money and people. The list can be endless. What we have discovered is that once the foregoing desires or expectations fail and the result is unhappiness, life ceases to make sense and have meaning! This is the prevalent trend of our age.
The fundamental question is: what is the meaning of life and how can we find it? In an attempt to seek for answers to this question many perspectives have been offered. Moreover, this has led many into wrong hands and places. The question could also be viewed as why are we here? What is the purpose/value of life? The answer to this question lies in us going back to where we came from. We came from God and so He has the first definition of the meaning of life. That is contained in Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Stephen Covey, Roger Merrill and Rebecca Merrill authored a book they titled First things first. We could adopt their title to drive our point home. If God is the first and most important being in our lives and life is a gift from Him, then common sense demands we get back to Him for enlightenment about the meaning of life. He has already taken the first step to unveil it as our being established in the kingdom and then we could be open to other possibilities of life. The other possibilities can come through if we have a why to live. Here comes a favorite assertion by Nietzsche as quoted by Viktor Frankl: “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” So, the meaning of life consists in having a sound footing with our originator and then pushing on because we have a will to live. Now, once the why is known, the how follows. Finally, I dare say, apart from God creating us and endowing us with many possibilities and potentials, nobody can define the meaning of our lives. More so, this meaning of life is not static, it keeps unfolding until we get back to our creator. Happy Sunday and may God bless us with the grace to be docile to Him and give answer to why we should live, Amen. Don’t forget those who have lived a meaningful life. You and I are equally destined for such! Fr. John-Mary Atep.