Cemeteries filled with faded tombstones and crumbling mausoleums pepper the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. While exploring some of these burial sites (by daylight), I tried to examine the dates on the stones—but time and weather had rubbed away many of the inscriptions. Even these grave markers, perhaps the only memorials dedicated to the people buried beneath them, could not last forever. This experience led me to ponder the futility of life on Earth.
The quest for hope, purpose, and destiny drives much of the human experience. People want to know, “Why am I here and what will happen when I leave?” We talk about the deceased “living on” through their legacy or loved ones. We persist in long and complicated searches for fulfillment.
So, where can we find meaningful, lasting hope, purpose, and destiny? Are they found in career accomplishments? Family and friends? A mission or ministry? Simply in being a “good” person?
These are all admirable investments, but like the tombstones of Edinburgh, they will all fade with time. Even the planet itself is set on a path of irreversible decay. Some day all life in the cosmos will cease to exist—and, if there’s nothing beyond the physical realm, then anything anyone ever did won’t matter.
Am I bumming you out? Fortunately, God did not abandon humanity to futility and despair.
Bright Hope for Tomorrow
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Creator offers redemption and salvation. The most famous of all Bible verses sums it up perfectly: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This truth is one of the most profound differences between Christianity and other worldviews.
In his book 7 Truths That Changed the World RTB scholar Kenneth Samples calls the Resurrection the most dangerous idea in history because “it tells us that not all dead men stay dead” (emphasis original). He concludes, “Given the inevitability of death, this is the greatest news that mortal human beings could ever hope to hear.”
Strength for Today
God’s generosity applies to this life as well. When we submit to His lordship, we allow Him to imbue our lives, even the trials and sufferings, with lasting purpose. Paul writes in Romans that “every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (The Message). RTB founder Hugh Ross picks up this theme in his book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is. He explains that our experience on Earth preps us for our roles in the next realm where “we will rule with him [God] over all that comprises the new creation.”
Jesus Himself exhorts us, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Hope, purpose, and destiny can outlast our tombstones because He bridged the divide between us and God.
Resources: Listen to these episodes from the Straight Thinking podcast where Ken compares different worldview perspectives on the meaning of life.