Finding Meaning


Finding Meaning

There is quite possibly no question more significant, of the questions raised by philosophers over the eons of time, than that of the meaning of life. It is a matter that causes one to confront their worldview directly in order to derive the purpose of human, cognitive existence. One’s personal worldview dramatically affects the outcome of obtaining meaning because one can only receive through the lens of which they see. The remainder of this article will address the question from the lens of the Christian worldview. One should not deceive themselves that life is random and without purpose. There is without a doubt a meaning to the existence of mankind because man was created. The teleological argument for the existence of God asserts that there is a God because of the deliberate design of the structured universe. A chair is designed for a purpose just has the atmosphere of our world was created for a purpose. If one believes there is a God who created man of the dust of the earth, then there must be a meaning and reason for which man was made. This meaning will be discussed in one manner by viewing the aspect that man can have a personal meaning and man can find purpose by serving a meaning greater than himself.

 

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” – Nietzsche

 

The late Jewish psychotherapist Viktor Frankl is known for his work in what has come to be known as the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.” Specifically, this process of therapy is known as logotherapy, the name was coined by Frankl. He utilized one definition of the Greek word logos, being meaning (Frankl, 2006). So Frankl’s concept of therapy was literally, meaning therapy. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl tells a story of a man, who came into his office one day unconsolably mourning the death of his wife. He says, “Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, ‘What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have survived you?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!’ Whereupon I replied, ‘You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her; this suffering — to be sure, at the price that how you have to survive and mourn her.’” Frank says in his book that suffering ceases to be suffering when meaning to establish. This can be viewed again in regards to Nietzsche’s quote. In this regard Frankl says, “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectively waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence and will be able to bear almost any how.”

We have discussed that man was created by God for a purpose in which God has in mind. This is saying that man was made by an external source and, therefore, cannot derive purpose and meaning internally, but must look externally. Utilizing Frankl’s application of the definition logos, meaning, to our discussion we can come to this conclusion. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.” If the definition Frankl implemented were applied in this verse, the result is quite impressive. “In the beginning was the meaning, and the meaning was with God, and the meaning was God.” Verse fourteen of the chapter continues, “And the meaning (logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The source from which humanity derives his purpose is found in Jesus Christ.

In the aforementioned story, where Viktor Frankl tells of counseling a man whose wife passed away, there is another interesting conclusion we can extrapolate. Frank helped the man to find peace within his grief by helping him to find purpose in his pain. Again, Frankl said to the man, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her; this suffering — to be sure, at the price that how you have to survive and mourn her.” Approaching two thousand years ago now, a man climbed a hill to pay a debt he did not owe. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus was mutilated beyond recognition. He endured a level of suffering that is near incomprehensible. He did it all just so you, and I could be spared  the suffering we so deserve.

Now that we have concluded that the meaning of humanity can be and should be found in Jesus Christ we can then look at another aspect of this understanding. There is a personal meaning for every person. This meaning entails the driving force of a person’s existence and sparks the discussion of the will of God. Keeping this article succinct and on a single point, we will not get into a discussion on the will of God, but it must be said that the will of God is of major significance here. Examining another angle we can then look at the church as a collective whole. The meaning of the church, of the Gospel, is to “seek and to save.” This applies another facet of understanding to our discussion when we view that man has a greater and a higher purpose than that of his life solely. Every man and woman have been called to reach the world by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. The meaning of man is derived from Jesus Christ, and the meaning of man is only found in Jesus Christ. If you are trying to figure out the purpose of your existence today, you need to look no further than God himself.