How to Find Meaning in Life: Speculation or Revelation?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can you find meaning in life? Where should you look?

At some point, you’ve likely asked yourself the same questions that people have been asking themselves for centuries: “Why am I here?” “What’s the meaning of life?” “What’s my purpose?” In your quest to find meaning in life, you have a couple of options. You can guess, or you can look at scripture to see what the Creator has to say about life’s purpose.

Read more to learn about these two routes you can take as you search to find meaning in life.

The Quest to Find Meaning in Life

We all want to find meaning in life. From a Christian perspective, the answer is at once simple and complex: God put you here to fulfill the purposes he’s planned for you. There are two routes you can take in your quest to find meaning in life and figuring out your purposes.

Route #1: Speculation

For centuries, people have taken this route in an effort to find meaning in life, musing about life’s purpose, questioning their origins, and wondering what they should do with their time on earth. 

You’ve probably taken this route, too. You look inward for answers about your purpose, asking yourself questions like:

  • “Why am I here?”
  • “What should I do with my life?” 
  • “Am I going to make an impact on the world?”

You’ve likely come up with a few ideas about what life is all about, such as personal fulfillment, seeking happiness or truth, career ambitions, or family. As a Christian, you assume that God is meant to help you fulfill these personal purposes. This inward-looking route will never provide you with clear answers—all you can do is speculate. 

Route #2: Revelation

On the other hand, looking outward to the Bible leads you to definitive answers about the meaning of your life. God has already explained the meaning of our lives—studying his Word reveals why we’re here, how life should work, and what’s waiting for us in the future and eternity. 

  • You might think of it this way: You’re an invention created by God. It doesn’t make sense to ask yourself or other inventions about your function because they won’t know. Only the inventor and his instruction manual can explain your function. 

To find meaning in life, only God’s Word has answers that are coherent, clear, and satisfying.

How to Find Meaning in Life: Speculation or Revelation?

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Purpose Driven Life summary :

  • The meaning of life from a Christian perspective
  • The five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill
  • How to find the unique service you were made for

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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