Why Are We Here?

What is the meaning of life?

TO THE often-asked questions above, many would add another: Can we look forward to anything more than simply living out a brief span of 70 or 80 years and then dying?​—Psalm 90:9, 10.

Perhaps at no other time do we raise such questions as intensely as when we sense how brief our life span really is. Of course, we do not need to be going through a life-threatening crisis to ask why we are here. Disillusionment can trigger the question as well. And some ask it as they reflect on their life pattern.

Dave had a well-paying job and a nice apartment, and he enjoyed spending time with his many friends. He relates: “I was walking home from a party late one night when the question hit me ‘Is this it?​—Will I only live a brief period of time and then die? Or is there something more?’ What struck me was the hollowness of my life at the time.”

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl noted that some of his fellow Holocaust survivors faced such a question after their release from concentration camps. Upon returning home, some of them found that their loved ones had perished. Frankl wrote: “Woe to him who, when the day of his dreams finally came, found it so different from all he had longed for!”

Those Who Raise the Question

The question of why we are here is common to all generations. The Bible describes people who questioned the purpose of their life. The man Job, after losing his wealth and his children and while enduring excruciating  illness, asked: “Why from the womb did I not proceed to die? Why did I not come forth from the belly itself and then expire?”​—Job 3:11.

The prophet Elijah felt similarly. While feeling alone as a worshipper of God, he lamented: “It is enough! Now, O Jehovah, take my soul away.” (1 Kings 19:4) Such a sentiment is all too familiar. Indeed, the Bible describes Elijah as “a man with feelings like ours.”​—James 5:17.

A Successful Trip Through Life

Life is often compared to a journey. Just as you may begin a trip with no final destination in mind, you could live your life without identifying its real purpose. If you do so, you risk getting caught up in what well-known writer Stephen R. Covey calls “the busy-ness of life.” He wrote about those who “find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them.”

Would you not agree that increasing our speed on a trip is pointless if we are not heading in the right direction? Likewise, looking for meaning in life by simply increasing our “busy-ness” will bring only emptiness, not true fulfillment.

The quest to understand why we are here transcends cultural and age differences. It stems from a profound need that we all have, a spiritual one that can remain unsatisfied even after our material needs have been met. Consider how some have tried to fill this need in their search for the purpose of life.

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Looking for meaning in life simply by increasing our “busy-ness” will bring only emptiness, not true fulfillment

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Job questioned why he had been born

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Elijah had “feelings like ours”