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Finding Meaning in Life

Question:

Hello Dr. Craig

I'm writing from Sweden so I hope you can understand the meaning of my questions even if it is not in perfectly good english.

I should start by saying that I am a non-Christian, as the majority of the people in my country and i have listen far too much on you on youtube to be stupid enough to call me an atheist.

Some months ago I started thinking about life, in a way that I had not done before.

I started asking myself the big questions. What is the meaning of my life? What is the reason we are here? What makes me important?

Sadly I couldn't find the answers to these questions and the more I thought about them, the harder it became to live my day to day life.

Everything that i hade loved about life, now felt so meaningless.

At that point I turned to one of my closest friend who is a Christian, to seek some answers.

He gave me a book that you have written (It was actually signed by you) were you defend Christian faith. I read it, and you truly gave me really good reasons to believe in god.

But that did not help answering my questions.

If there is NO God, i die and my life here on earth was meaningless. If there IS a God, I die and my life here on earth was meaningless. I'll soon explain how I think.

With these question still troubling me i started reading the Bible. And it freaked me out even more.

The Bible and Christian faith does not give any meaning to my life. To the life I loved before these questions started to tumble in my head.

The bible tells me that there is a God and that my life only have meaning if I spend the rest of my life to tell other people about him.

That is a pretty hard thing to leap in to as a non-Christian who seeks meaning to his life, right here and now as it is, and who does not have any relations to God.

So the biggest questions I ask my self, and which I now ask you, are: Is the only reason to live life as a Christian to tell others about God? Is that the meaning of life?

And finally, why why why should people who believe in God but lives here on earth under terrible circumstances (poverty, depression, sickness, war) still continue there lives here? Wouldn't it be better to just die and go to heaven?

I hope I have made some sense. And that you could clear out some of my troubling thoughts

Best regards,

A lost Swede
Sweden

Dr. Craig responds:

I can certainly sympathize that to a non-believer like yourself, the prospect of spending one’s life telling others about God scarcely seems attractive. But that’s because you haven’t fallen in love with Him yet. A person who is in love wants to tell others about his beloved, to show photos of her or him to others, to think often about her or him. But someone who is not in love is apt to say, “Spend my life telling other people about her (him)? Are you kidding?”

In any case, you can breathe easy. For, contrary to what you’ve been told, the meaning of life is not telling other people about God. That’s a misimpression that probably arises from confusing one’s vocation with the meaning of one’s life. Some people, like myself, do feel called to tell other people about God as their vocation. But not every Christian is so called. Some may be called to be an artist or a scientist or a rice farmer. Certainly everyone should always be ready to share his faith when the opportunity presents itself, but that isn’t to say that that is one’s vocation in life.

Whatever our vocation, the fundamental meaning of our lives is to be found in knowing God. In response to the question, “What is the chief end of man?” the Westminster Shorter Catechism answers, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” What a wonderful prospect! God is the locus and source of infinite goodness and love, the paradigm of moral value. To know Him is an incommensurable good, the fulfillment of human existence. Only God can forever satisfy our deepest longings.

I’m sure that what you’re longing for is some sort of objective significance for your life, a source of infinite value, and an objective purpose for your existence that reaches beyond the grave. All that is to be found through the knowledge of the infinite God.

Now once you do become a Christian, God may reveal to you what your vocation in life is to be, and maybe you’ll be surprised to find that you long to tell others about Him and His love. But maybe God has other plans for you. Who knows?

Finally, as for those who suffer terribly, yes, it would be better for them personally to die and go to be with God (that’s true for anybody, when you think about it!), but God may well have good reasons for keeping them here: things for them to do or even people who will be influenced by their lives, perhaps by their courage and perseverance in bearing suffering. The apostle Paul, who suffered much and was facing martyrdom, wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1. 23-25). God may have great things to accomplish through what people suffer.

But, first things first. First, come to know God by placing your trust in Christ for forgiveness and salvation. Then having come to know Him, ask how you should spend your life living out whatever calling He has for you. You may even find the things you once loved in life infused with a new charm and significance.