Some things defy explanation.
Yet we still ask “Why?”
It’s a question we feel compelled to ask. One that goes beyond the public façade we put on for others.
It looks for reasons, for purposes, for motives. Why? is a question that demands an explanation for the reason things are as they are.
- “Why?” was a question God asked in the earliest days of human history. To Cain—“Why are you angry?” To Abraham—“Why did Sarah laugh?”
- Moses asked, “Why is the bush not burned up?”
- Nathan asked David, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord?”
- Job asked, “Why did I not die at birth?”
- Jesus repeatedly asked, “Why are you anxious?” “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye?” “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” “Why do you not believe me?” “Why have you forsaken me?”
Why do we exist?
We cannot escape this question. But we try.
Many make it their lifetime goal to find a lifetime goal. Again and again, we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz — only to draw back the curtain in disappointment each time.
But isn’t the pursuit of happiness our inalienable right? One more vacation, one more purchase, one more party, one more relationship, one more round of drinks or snort of cocaine.
Sometimes despising their own meaninglessness is the only meaning people find. Is this the vanity of life under the sun? Or, is it simply life as we know it?
Our existence is most certainly a cosmic accident if there is no personal Creator. On this way of seeing things, we exist by chance, not by design or purpose and all our notions of ultimate meaning and purpose are based on wishful thinking or irrational fantasy.
Perhaps we were meant for more. Perhaps our search itself reminds us that we were meant for more than this life.
- “Unique among living species, human life is aware of itself, yet we find ourselves in a world that doesn’t explain itself. So we’re impelled to ask why things are as they are and how we fit in. What gives life to life? Why is there something rather than nothing?”
- “Deep inside us we know the facts of the matter are not the end of the matter. So we seek a final explanation, a source of meaning that goes as far back as one can go, an ultimate answer before which all questions cease.”
- “This will to find meaning is fundamental. It is ‘the primary motivational force in man,’ according to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. ‘Meaning is not a luxury for us,’ says philosopher Dallas Willard. ‘It is a kind of spiritual oxygen, we might say, that enables our souls to live.’”
- “Abraham Heschel expressed it from his Jewish viewpoint: ‘It is not enough for me to be able to say ‘I am’; I want to know who I am and in relation to whom I live. It is not enough for me to ask questions; I want to know how to answer the one question that seems to encompass everything I face: What am I here for?’” (Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search For the Meaning of Life,” Os Guinness).
A frustrating search
- “I carried about me a cut and bleeding soul, that could not bear to be carried by me, and where I could put it, I could not discover. Not in pleasant groves, not in games and singing, nor in the fragrant corners of a garden. Not in the company of a dinner table, not in the delights of the bed: not even in my books and poetry.”
- “It floundered in a void and fell back on me. I remained a haunted spot, which gave me no rest, from which I could not escape. For where could my heart flee from my heart? Where could I escape myself? Where would I not dog my own footsteps?”
- “Dear Lord, You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You” (Augustine).
What can we learn from the way God referred to His people as, “….the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).
Let this be our prayer – “Lord, Your Name and Renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26:8; see, I Corinthians 10:31).