The Ultimate Source of Meaning
“THE only adequate structure for morality is that based upon the ultimate meaning of life.” That is the claim made by a prominent psychiatrist, Rollo May. He raises the question of where this structure and ultimate meaning of life can be found, and answers: “The ultimate structure is the nature of God. The principles of God are the principles which underlie life from the beginning of creation to the end.”
“Man has a relationship to God,” May continues. “This is so fundamental in man that it is attributed to his creation, where he was ‘made in the image of God.’” He also observed that man’s ego and self-will cause him to stray from the godly image, and this causes inner conflicts and tensions and guilt feelings. This reminds us of the apostle Paul’s dilemma, as he expressed it: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. Miserable man that I am!” (Rom. 7:19, 24) The basic point being made here, however, is that the ultimate meaning of life is to be found in a relationship with Jehovah God.
A person feels dwarfed not only by space and time, as previously discussed, but also by the teeming millions of human creatures on earth all around him. “The bigger the crowd,” says C. G. Jung, “the more negligible the individual becomes.” He feels “overwhelmed by the sense of his own puniness and impotence” and that, as a result, “his life has lost its meaning.”
But the masses of humanity, so overwhelming to the individual, are as nothing when compared to God. To him “the nations are as a drop from a bucket; and as the film of dust on the scales . . . All the nations are as something nonexistent in front of him.” (Isa. 40:15, 17) This was written more than 2,000 years before the modern schools of psychology were established, the central figure of which is Sigmund Freud, born in 1856 C.E.
For our lives to have any real meaning, they need a connection to Jehovah God, the Creator of the universe. Many today, however, have doubts that God even exists, and they therefore find it difficult to relate to him. Nonetheless, evidence for his existence abounds. Many look at the heavens and earth and agree with the apostle Paul when he said: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made.” They also can repeat with the psalmist his recorded words: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—Rom. 1:20; Ps. 19:1.
The consensus among scientists now is that the universe had a beginning. The Bible’s first verse also says this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) Robert Jastrow, in his book God and the Astronomers, wrote:
“Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy. Some scientists are unhappy with the idea that the world began in this way. . . . But the latest evidence makes it almost certain that the Big Bang really did occur many millions of years ago.”
The British theorist Edward Milne in a mathematical treatise on relativity concluded: “As to the first cause of the Universe, in the context of expansion [the Big Bang], that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association, August 22, 1977, page 899, said: “Today at least 80% of the scientists who deal with biology would probably admit that biology and life are regulated by some higher power.
“The superb order and regulation in various manifestations of life and in the basic processes at the cellular and molecular levels have strong influence on the belief that a higher power exists.”
Now this recognized great First Cause whose name is Jehovah had a purpose, or goal, in making the earth: “He formed and made the earth—he made it firm and lasting. He did not make it a desolate waste, but a place for people to live.” So, too, when Adam was put in the garden it was for a purpose: “to cultivate it and guard it.” To both Adam and Eve God said: “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.” (Isa. 45:18; Gen. 2:15; 1:28, Today’s English Version) “Everything Jehovah has made for his purpose,” this is his purpose for humankind, and his purposes never fail.—Prov. 16:4; Isa. 46:11.
Today people work toward goals that make them feel their life is meaningful, but is there a lasting quality to these goals? Will the meaning survive in time and universal space? The ultimate source of meaning is the doing of work willingly that Jehovah God has ordained for humankind—caring for the earth, beautifying it, lovingly exercising oversight of animal life, praising Jehovah as they enjoy life under the kingdom of Christ Jesus. In this way no longer will they be dwarfed by space or terminated by time. Each one will then harmonize with and advance the purposes of God for the earth. Each life will then have meaning, meaning to man and to God. And if your ultimate meaning in life is not to be terminated by time then make as your goal the gaining of everlasting life in the paradise earth under Christ’s kingdom.
There is another aspect of a life dedicated to God that gives it a meaning of universal importance. Remember the words of the man of long ago, Job, that were quoted in the opening article of this series? Remember how those words bitterly lamented man’s fewness of days and their fullness of trouble? Well, Job’s days were filled with trouble because of a challenge raised thousands of years ago by Satan the Devil. That challenge was that Jehovah could not have people on earth who would keep integrity to Him under test.
Doubtless in reference to this issue previously raised, Jehovah on one occasion asked Satan: “Have you set your heart upon my servant Job, that there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad?” Satan’s retort was, ‘You’ve put a protective hedge around him! Let me strip him of his possessions and he’ll curse you to your face!’ Satan was allowed to do that, and, later, was even permitted to bring painful disease and torment upon Job. The issue between God and Satan was a universal one, for it was aired before angels in the heavenly court of Jehovah God.—Job 1:6 to 2:8.
Satan was allowed to do all he could to Job to break his integrity to God, but he failed. Job cried out: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” Later he declared, “God will get to know my integrity.” Job proved Satan a liar and his challenge false. Further words of his constitute a cry of hope for all mankind: “I myself well know that my redeemer is alive, and that, coming after me, he will rise up over the dust. And after my skin, which they have skinned off,—this! Yet reduced in my flesh I shall behold God, whom even I shall behold for myself.”—Job 27:5; 31:6; 19:25-27.
Though many others have failed, some people down through the centuries have kept integrity to God and proved Satan’s challenge false, and to this extent they have contributed to the vindication of Jehovah’s name. Surely, nothing could give a life more meaning than this, to support the cause of the Creator of the universe, to demonstrate to both men and angels that Satan lied when he said he could turn all men away from God!
Throughout the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon repeatedly referred to this life and its secular works as vanity, and dismissed it as “this brief span of empty existence through which he passes like a shadow.” (Eccl. 6:12, The New English Bible) Nevertheless, he admonished young persons to remember their Creator and concluded his writings with these words: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—Eccl. 12:13, 14.
A life lived in integrity to Jehovah God is not vanity, is not futile, is not meaningless. Jehovah the Creator of the universe is the ultimate source of meaning, and a life dedicated and devoted to him will last forever and will have meaning forever.
[Blurb on page 11]
Jehovah the Creator of the universe is the ultimate source of meaning, and a life devoted to him will last forever and have meaning forever
[Box on page 10]
EVEN PROMINENT PSYCHIATRISTS HAVE BEEN OBLIGED TO CONFIRM THE NEED FOR BELIEF IN GOD
C. G. Jung:
The “idea of an all-powerful divine being is everywhere, if not consciously recognized, then unconsciously accepted . . . Therefore I consider it wiser to recognize the idea of God consciously; otherwise something else becomes god, as a rule something quite inappropriate and stupid.”
“The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on his own resources to the physical and moral blandishments of the world.”
“Religion, as the careful observation and taking account of certain invisible and uncontrollable factors, is an instinctive attitude peculiar to man, and its manifestations can be followed all through human history.”
On his patients over 35: “There has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”
On belief in God and His mercy: “Then the individual will have gained a feeling of his own minuteness and insignificance in the face of the greatness of the universe and God’s purposes therein. . . . He will recognize that there are purposes which swing in arcs much greater than his little orb, and he will aim to put himself in harmony with them. He will realize, without sentimentality, his dependence on God.”
On atheism: “True religion, namely a fundamental affirmation of the meaning of life, is something without which no human being can be healthy in personality. . . . What happens to mental health when this meaning which religion gives is absent? In other words, what is the effect of atheism on personality? . . . I have been startled by the fact that practically every genuine atheist with whom I have dealt has exhibited unmistakable neurotic tendencies.”
[Picture on page 8, 9]
We may seem microscopic in this vast universe, and we may be as a fleeting moment in the endless stream of time, but our position on the earth is unique and our lives are involved in the most meaningful issue in the whole universe