POINTS TO PONDER

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Our pastor, Rick Warren, wrote a beneficial and successful book titled, “The Purpose Driven Life.” But it is hard to get his real message if we don’t understand what purpose means. It begins by realizing how important your life’s purpose is. It’s more than a dream or a fantasy. It involves exploring the possibilities in life.

Dr. Phillip and Jane Mountrose, founding directors of Awakenings Institute, tells us that life doesn’t have to be stressful, meaningless, and uninspiring. We discovered that a sense of purpose provides direction, confidence, and significance. With purpose, each day can become a joyful and meaningful expression of your true identity. There’s nothing like it, they say! You weren’t born just to survive or to settle for a life that doesn’t mean anything to you. More is possible, so much more. You have far more power and potential than you might imagine.

Phillip and Jane list, what they call, treasures awaiting you as you open up to your life’s purpose. They are as follows:

Your life will become a joyful expression of your unique brilliance.

You will be able to focus more, knowing where you are heading.

You will be able to prioritize what is important.

You will manage your time and money better with an understanding of who you are and why you are here.

You will deepen important relationships and find new relationships that support everyone concerned in wonderful ways.

You will be more resilient, knowing setbacks are learning opportunities not failures.

You will find meaningful work that becomes a calling for something greater, including a greater you.

We all have no doubt heard the saying, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But a team of British researchers recently turned this idea on its head. University College London’s Andrew Steptoe and Daisy Fancourt (2019) examined a wide range of possible influences on well-being; they independently examined the roles of such factors like health, income, cultural involvement, and social relationships over a four-year period on a large sample of adults 50 and older living in the U.K. Happiness, as it turns out, may not be linked simply to health, wisdom, or income, but to the belief that your life has a purpose.

Modern scientific research on where does human purpose have its origins, begins of all places, in a Holocaust survivor’s experiences in a series of Nazi concentration camps. While a prisoner at Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and two satellite camps of Dachau (where I was once stationed in the US Army), Viennese psychologist Victor Frankl noticed that fellow prisoners who had a sense of purpose showed greater resilience to the torture, slave labor, and starvation rations to which they were subjected. Writing of his experience later, he found a partial explanation in a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear almost any ‘how.’” Frankl’s 1959 book Man’s Search for Meaning, a book which proved to be seminal in the field, crystallized his convictions about the crucial role of meaning and purpose. A decade later, Frankl would assist in the development of the first and most widely used standardized survey of purpose, the 21-item “Purpose in Life” test.[1]

Lydia Denworth, writing in Psychology Today, says that the feeling that one’s life has meaning can come from any number of things – from work (paid or unpaid) that feels worthwhile, from cherished relationships, from religious faith, or even from regularly appreciating the sunset. While it does not much matter what gives you purpose, it does matter that you find it somewhere. A growing body of research has found that the feeling that one’s life has meaning is associated with a host of positive health outcomes. And now, a new study of older adults published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences goes even further by revealing that the sense that one is living a purposeful life appears to be positively linked to just about every aspect of our lives, not just health. The new study also followed people over time and found that the more purposeful they found their lives to be, the more positive changes they experienced.

But before all of this research, answers why it is so important to live a purposeful life are addressed in God’s Word. The Hebrew noun Mahasabha is translated into English as “thought,” “plan,” “device,” and “purpose” For instance, the Psalmist cried out, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things [purpose] you planned for us.”[2] And again, “How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts [purposes]!”[3]

And King Solomon declared, “Plans [purposes] fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” And the prophet Jeremiah received this message from the LORD, “For I know the plans [purposes] I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans [purposes] to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”[4]

Also, when Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw the effects of God’s grace and was glad, so, “He exhorted them all, that with a purpose [Greek prothesis] of heart to hold onto the Lord.”[5] And one of the most famous sayings of Paul is this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”[6] And when talking about Jacob and Esau, Paul said, “Before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.”[7] And to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of how God does things, “according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord.”[8]

So, you see, you don’t need for God to give you a purposeful life; He already has established the purpose for which you were born. And you do not need to go looking for some purpose in life or make one up from your imagination. Ask Him, and He will reveal it to you. And don’t be afraid of what you might be told. Remember Paul’s words, all things work together for good when you know and follow according to God’s purpose for your life. – Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] You can find it on, RISE purpose in life test.pdf

[2] Psalm 40:5 – NIV

[3] Psalm 92:5

[4] Jeremiah 29:11

[5] Acts of the Apostles 11:23

[6] Romans 8:28

[7] Ibid. 9:11

[8] Ephesians 3:11

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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