Life’s Purpose and Meaning

In one of those suffering bouts I had recently, it was so hard that I despaired even of life (as at other times before). It was long, arduous, almost unbearable. But I held on, always hoping and desperately expecting I would come through the other side fine. Those physical sufferings are so unrepentantly cruel one feels like one’s being forced to drink an acrid [bitter, caustic, harsh] liquid, the whole cup of it, and then live in that acerbic condition with no means of escape. While I waited for relief, I was driven to think about many deep things.

God is love

Why did God create man? He is from everlasting where time doesn’t exist, surely, He could have continued on without us? He is God, He is complete in Himself, certainly, He doesn’t need anything outside of Himself? My soul pained to ask desperately for I couldn’t fathom the purpose of so much suffering. For it is indescribably hard to live in an acrid environment.

Why did God create people if He knew in the end, they would suffer all sorts of things? Sickness, heart-wrenching problems, ruthless death? Should it not have been merciful to have left us out in the realm of non-existence? Maybe the likeness of these words seem familiar to you. Yes, Job had uttered them when in his own horrendous suffering, he had lamented the day of his birth (see Job 3).

I didn’t ask this in bitterness of soul. I believe I’m past that, by God’s amazing grace. I was driven to ask this maybe because I wanted to understand the purpose and meaning of life, in particular, my life. Maybe when I at least had a grasp of it, I could live with my illness and suffering better, have a sense of fulfilment, and be happier in the process.

I thought that the life span of man is too short for — what, really? For success in one’s chosen field, in one’s work, in one’s vocation, in whatever one’s heart has set into? While I waited out for relief from suffering, I imagined one’s life, anyone’s, whether it was lived full of accomplishments or not, it would end. You would hope that the ones who were left behind may live far better, more memorable lives, so that one’s death would have been a gain. But there’s no guarantee to that. Life goes on as like before.

So, it goes on from generation to the next and the next. In my mind, I saw the people, including me, trudging through life. Sometimes happy, sometimes weary. They go out to their respective toils under the sun, day in and day out. Year in and year out. (Now, I’m sounding like the cynical Preacher in Ecclesiastes).

What, may I ask, is the real purpose and meaning of life? Why are we even here? Why has God put us here in the very first place?

Here are the answers I got:

God is love and how can He translate that love into an experience if not to give it away? How can He be love if He cannot give of Himself? So, He created man in His own image. In that, He has shown His love, for He wanted us to share in His likeness. He created heaven and earth and all that is in them for man to subdue and rule over. He created Eden and put the first man and woman there and He wanted them to be perfectly happy WITH Him without a need for anything more. In His great love, He gave them everything to live by and each other so that they wouldn’t be lonely. Most of all, He wanted to give of Himself to them, for them to freely enjoy and delight in.

That was the plan. But we know what happened next. Now, here we are.

God created man to make a channel for His great love. But we had not really gotten it from the time of Adam and Eve. And maybe until now.

If God created us for and because of His love, then there is no other purpose and meaning of our lives than that to know, receive, respond, reciprocate, and live in that love.

Therefore, whatever we do, whatever we dream of doing, whatever course or career we pursue, that love is the fulcrum in which we move about. It is around it where all things in our lives revolve. God is at the very center, at the very core.

He must continue loving us and giving to us. Our lives, therefore, should be fully open for Him to freely love, to delight in, to enjoy, to bless. Us a continuous offering laid down without resistance. The worst we could do with our lives is to shut them up from His love and shut Him out.

Our life’s purpose and meaning, then, are not the roles we play and perform or the work we do per se, but in living our lives in which God is a big part of. That’s the reason why He gave us His Holy Spirit, through our surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, so that we will exist and live together. That has always been His master plan: for Him and us to live together in love and harmony.

Our lives then are not about our successes, fulfilment of dreams, and all other blessings received. But it is about the Lover, the Giver, the Savior, the Healer, the Prayer Answerer, the Dream Fulfiller, the Blesser and how we have opened up our lives for Him to be ALL that to us.

So, if we are pulling away from that love, God will make ways to pull us back. Sometimes, His ways are painful, hard to understand. But if we look back to His being Love, we would know then. And understand better. That it is all done in love. The one and only reason. For He is Love and He can’t and won’t change. It’s His nature. It’s Him.

As for me, I won’t think that my sickness and suffering is God’s purpose and meaning for my life. Or course not. He is the Healer. But then, if I would live my life, ailing and weak and suffering as it is, as an open vessel to receive all His love, to be a life which He could live in and do life with – then, I would also have served my life’s meaning and purpose. So, whether I spend my days in bed (I even paint here nowadays) or out there, my life should be God’s. And lived like it’s really His. In His love.

As we love on Him in worship, whatever our positions and situations in life, He loves us much more. Indescribably more. Unfathomably more. As we dance this divine dance, held in each other’s arms in a holy embrace, we become one: the very purpose He created us. And in this dance, He heals us.

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His Word is Light and Life

Meditating on Psalm 119: 17-32

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. (Ps. 119:17-18)

I can almost feel the psalmist’s agonized prayer to God through the passages of Psalm 119. Definitely, these are not ordinary utterances but ones that proceed from an afflicted, sorrowing soul. I remember the early days of my illness and suffering. One moment I was in the best of health, working, traveling, and doing the things I loved, the next moment, I was bound in bed, very sick and weak and feeling like I was drowning fast from the fears that accompanied my illness. During those dark hours, I strained to find comfort, strength, understanding, and deliverance from God’s Word.

I was desperately scrambling for light to understand what was happening in my life and I believed I could get that from God’s Word. In-between difficult eating and bouts of violent vomiting and struggling for breath, I begged the Lord to speak to me through His Word. How I desperately needed to know! And He didn’t fail me. He answered my very crucial questions through His Word, and I was greatly comforted and strengthened.

His Word was my light in the darkest hours.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word. (vv. 25, 28)

As I spent endless days in bed, I was nourished by daily servings of His Word. I devoured chapters upon chapters. Did I believe this would do me good? Absolutely. I believed the Word could bring me healing. I believed it could resurrect me and bring me new life, both physically and spiritually. Revive me according to Your word; strengthen me according to Your word, the psalmist begged.

As I stalked the Lord Jesus in the narrow streets of Jerusalem or along the seashore or on the mountain where He resorted, I desperately wanted to be sucked into the pages of the Gospels and be with Him where there’s no more pain, suffering, and fear. As I followed Him relentlessly with the multitudes and straining to touch the hem of His garment, I knew without a doubt that I would be healed. I did all this through walking and living in His Word.

…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

The words of the Lord are life. They give life and bring healing and restoration. He and His Word are one. The Word [is] God (John 1:1).

I love God’s Word. I have not gotten tired of opening it and walking through it, meandering through the beautiful, life-giving passages, and pondering on and wrestling with the hard teachings. That I may swallow them and be digested in my inmost parts that I may continue to live. To live, physically and spiritually.

It is my constant prayer to remain fervent in His Word.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Better Than Life

Chapter 11 of my ebook The Wrestlings Along the Narrow Path discusses God’s love, how we are secure knowing that His love never fails and endures forever. Today, I want to talk about God’s love which is better than life.

(image from Google)

Have you tried pondering on the words of Psalm 63: 3?

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

How that God’s love is better than life itself?

We all love life. We do our best to hold onto it, spending thousands, even millions (for those who can afford), to find cure or treatment to diseases that threaten to destroy it. We find ways to live life to the full, working really hard to bring fulfilment to our dreams. We love life and all the pleasures it brings. But sometimes, it doesn’t stay that way. Sometimes, life brings us trials that are hard to endure.

And then there are people who, though they seem to have everything in life – health and wealth – still find themselves hauling an unexplained emptiness.

One morning, I woke up with a heavy heart. Something happened the night before that had wounded my heart, and though I had cried and prayed, when I woke up the next day, I still felt restless and — empty and quite lost. I prayed again, thinking about the good things that awaited me that day, things I would love to do. But the inspiration and joy that I had always trusted to come every morning weren’t there.

It dawned on me that no matter how exciting one’s plans are, if problems and sorrow try to embrace your being, life just seems to fade into the background. Like it’s not what you really want. What could be better than wanting life and choosing life and embracing life?

I had found it that day: God’s love. If you cannot experience God’s love, if it seems to you that, unless you catch it and take a good grasp of it, life is meaningless. Yes.

Though we know God’s love is constant, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t vary in intensity and magnitude – our experience of it does. Sometimes, we unconsciously go far from it. We immerse ourselves to temporary, fleeting pleasures that we had forgotten the love that never fails.

To experience God’s love we need to stay in its embrace 24/7. We need to be constantly entering into it by entering into God’s presence. It is only when we diligently seek God’s face and bask in His holy presence that we experience the uninterruptible flow of His divine love. And it is this that we carry through the day as we go about our business and chores.

It is God’s love that gives life to our lives. Yes, even when life itself might be fading away. The experiencing of God’s love takes away the misery in life.

This is what walking through the shadow of the valley of death does to a Christ-follower: it catapults him or her straight to His love. In late-2004, in one of those episodes where I was struggling between life and death, all I wanted to know and feel and trust was the Lord Jesus’ love. I prayed over and over in between hardships, “Dearest Lord Jesus, I just want to know You are here with me now. I just want to feel You, Your love, and that will suffice.” To know and feel His love that encompasses all – His mercy, salvation, healing, comfort – is the best thing that could ever happen to a human being.

I had found that, no matter how hard life on earth is, the love of God that’s in the Lord Jesus Christ makes everything bearable, lighter, comforting. It makes joy and peace to triumph. 

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,