Friday, October 7, 2011

What is your understanding of the purpose of life?

This is part eight of a ten-part post. Elder Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy suggested ten questions which members of any church might ask our missionaries or any other member of the Church.

Question number eight: What is your understanding of the purpose of life?

Elder Cuthbert’s answer:

In its basic form, this question might be expressed as “Why am I here?” There is a yearning deep down in all people to know the answer in order to live a purposeful life. As all loving parents do, our Heavenly Father had made a plan for us, his children, before this earth ever existed. In that period of time, which we call the premortal existence, we lived with God as his spirit children. In order for us to progress further, it was necessary for us to experience mortality by receiving a physical body provided by earthly parents. Being away from the presence of God for a while, we learn to walk by faith and develop qualities which will eventually qualify us to return to our heavenly home as resurrected beings.

The Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, has declared his great purpose and plan for his children: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) Without this period of life on earth, we can achieve neither immortality nor eternal life.
My testimony:
I love this question. I love this question because I feel that a lot of problems would be solved or not even arise and that feelings of self-worth would increase if more people slowed down and pondered the possible purposes of life on earth. Do you really know the purpose of life? Do you really understand why you get up every day and do the things that you do? Do you really believe that we’re here to earn, buy, and consume, to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die? Is the happiness bought by money, position, and things the highest form of happiness attainable? Or is it just easier not to care and to just buy a bigger TV and be nice to your neighbors rather than think about a potential after-life and the reality of someday being responsible and accountable for your actions? Reality is that ignoring or neglecting desires to think about the actual purpose of life only temporarily masks the reality of facing truth eventually. A knowledge of why we are here on earth brings a higher level of responsibility and with that responsibility a higher level of joy and hope.
Our loving Father in Heaven has provided a purpose to life. In fact, life on earth exists as a means for attaining a higher purpose created long before the world was. As Elder Cuthbert and so many others of the Lord’s servants have taught, we are all children of our Heavenly Father. He loves us and desires to give us all that He has. This life is a step toward that goal and if we hold out faithful to the end we are received into heaven that thereby we may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness (see Mosiah 2:41; D&C 121:8).
The purpose of life is simple, simple enough for even children to understand. Ponder the words of this song we sang in Primary at church when I was young:
My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began.
My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.
I will follow God’s plan for me,
Holding fast to his word and his love.
I will work, and I will pray;
I will always walk in his way.
Then I will be happy on earth
And in my home above.
(I Will Follow God’s Plan, Children’s Songbook #164)
Remember, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants what is best for us. Perhaps we do not feel that way when life gets hard and seemingly unfair, but this life is only a small part of a much greater plan. When the prophet Joseph Smith was unjustly imprisoned in the ironically named Liberty jail, Jesus Christ taught him a comforting lesson concerning this life. Spoke the Lord, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7-8).
When we understand the greater plan of our Father in Heaven and the simple yet vitally important role this life plays in that plan, the words the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith also speak comfort to us and help us understand divine purpose of life. The prophet Jacob taught that, “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). The purpose of life is to exercise faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ and to be happy doing so! Indeed, such a lifestyle of discipleship is a happy and hopeful lifestyle! President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy (see 2 Nephi 2:25). Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness” (“Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 118).
This life is the time for us to prepare to meet God. Everything the Lord requires of us, all the commandments and principles and guidelines that He gives us through His servants the prophets are given to help us successfully navigate this life and to better understand our purpose. The Lord promises, “he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive the world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23).
I am grateful for the plan of my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ that makes possible eternal families and eternal happiness. Although His way may not be the easiest at times, it is the most fulfilling and I know that it brings the greatest joy.