Does your life have a purpose? What does it mean to have a purpose in your life?
Consider this typical dialogue between a child and a parent:
Why do I need to go to school? Because you need to learn how to learn.
Why do I need to learn? Because you don’t know everything there is to know.
Why don’t I know everything? Because no one knows everything.
Why doesn’t anyone know everything? Because most people don’t ask as many questions as you!
Why don’t people ask as many questions as me? ………
As you can imagine this conversation could go on forever. When someone is asking why questions, attempts to answer usually do not stop the barrage of follow-up questions. Truth be told, most people who are asking why questions are not really looking for answers to their spoken questions. Behind the spoken questions usually lurks a core unspoken question. Typically, this core question is a question of trust. The child who is asking, “Why do I need to go to school?” is really wondering, Do I trust the person who is telling me I need to go to school? Through their barrage of questions, the child hopes to discover whether or not the rule-giver is trustworthy.
When humans ask why questions about death, are we not also asking a core question of trust? Do I trust whoever designed this universe…if there is a designer? If we were to discover that a trustworthy designer exists, wouldn’t this knowledge significantly affect our perspective of death?
What if our ability to courageously face death fundamentally depends on whether or not a purpose exists behind death? Believing there is a purpose behind death unquestionably influences the way we live our lives. If death’s existence is part of a grand design, then we are likely to live our lives in sync with that design. But if we believe there is no purpose behind death, if death is merely the end of life and nothing more, then preparing for our impending death is likely to be considered unnecessary and practically impossible.