I was just looking through my blog and found this post I wrote two years ago on Winter Break, but didn’t post. As I’m reading The Slumber of Christianity (Dekker), Mere Christianity (Lewis), and Desiring God (Piper) my mind is once again drawn to this subject but with even more clarity and this post becomes current in my mind again.
Why does man suffer? Or, why do we not find answers to why we have suffering for different reasons?
I think this all goes back to the purpose of man.
All people are created with purpose. The need for a purpose is easily visible in people today throughout our nation. Many people make this purpose out to be the old “American Dream” of wealth and independence. Some people take the apparent morals which are popular in society today such as a happy family or the advancement of mankind. While not bad, these purposes are not the ultimate purpose of man which he was created to fulfill. This purpose, I believe is to glorify God through the means which God has provided and through the plan which conforms to His will or plans for our lives.
Is man’s purpose to fulfill his desires, to be happy for happiness’ sake, to have knowledge for knowledge’s sake? This brings up another question: Ultimately, what fulfills man’s desire for happiness, and joy. Is it being free from pain? Or is it from being healthy? Or, does material wealth give ultimate happiness and fulfillment?
A look around: There are wealthy people that commit suicide in every generation. How can wealth bring happiness? It would appear that it does not. According to the scriptures, it does not. In Ecclesiastes 2:1-10, Solomon, one of the richest and most wise men ever to walk the earth talks about how he thought wealth and material possession was his fulfillment. He talks about how through hard work he built up wealth and possessions for his enjoyment, but in verse 11 he says “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun.” He explains more in the rest of the chapter, but that seems to answer that question.
Another look at today’s people shows that people with health and wealth alike are equally not happy and bring themselves to bitter and untimely ends. How can health alone bring happiness? We see people that are in some of the worst of physical cases with the happiness not found in ten people around at a glance.
Does knowledge bring happiness? Do we have knowledge today? As my Prof. Mr. Phillipps said in class “knowledge for knowledge’s sake is not knowledge at all. Knowledge for the Lord’s sake is true knowledge.” (that’s a paraphrase since my notes are still in my dorm) With the invention of the internet we have knowledge galore. Everyone’s knowledge is everyone else’s knowledge. Again from Solomon we hear “For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Ecc 1:18). Knowledge has not fulfilled man ultimately.
If the ultimate purpose of man is not fulfilled with health, wealth, or knowledge what brings ultimate fulfillment of man’s purpose? Ultimately nothing can be as great or as noble as bringing glory to the creator of man. Bringing glory to God, the creator of the universe and mankind is the greatest purpose mankind can ever have.
All people are created with purpose, or the need for one. The need for a purpose is easily visible in people today throughout our nation. Many people make this purpose out to be the old “American Dream” of wealth and independence. Some people take the apparent morals which are popular in society today such as a happy family or the advancement of mankind. While not bad, these purposes are not the ultimate purpose of man which he was created to fulfill. Those without purpose become enslaved with depression and self-loathing because of the lack of purpose, the disillusionment that is cast by the thought that one is useless and worthless. This purpose which is ultimate fulfillment, I believe, is to glorify God through the means which God has provided and through the plan which conforms to His will or plans for our lives. Bringing glory to God is the greatest purpose.