When you consider that there have been well over 500,000 deaths in America alone attributed to the COVID-19 virus and think about how our lives have been shifted so dramatically during this past year, it could become an opportunity to really consider what’s important in life. We have seen stories of how people have drawn closer to God during this time, perhaps even giving their hearts to Christ.
A LifeWay Research study, the subject of a recent ChristianHeadlines.com article, focuses on the things that are really important, such as the meaning of life and what comes next, after we leave this earth. The article said that the survey “found that 57 percent of U.S. adults during the pandemic say they ponder, at least monthly, the question,
‘How can I find more meaning and purpose in my life?’
In 2011, it was 51 percent. 21% related that they think about that topic on a daily basis. The survey also found:
81 percent agree there is an “ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life.” But the percentage who strongly agree with the statement has decreased, from 50 percent in 2011 to 44 percent today.
59 percent agree with the statement, “I have found a higher purpose and meaning for my life.”
But, in what could be considered a startling turn, fewer American adults are sure of what occurs after we die. The article states: Only 43 percent of adults “strongly agree” that “there is more to life than the physical world and society.” In 2011, 67 percent agreed with that statement. Forty-two percent “somewhat agree” with the statement – an increase from 21 percent in 2011.
Interestingly enough, the percentage of those who say they “wonder daily” if they will go to heaven has doubled in the past decade – from 8 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in September 2020, when this survey was taken.
The executive director of the research organization, Scott McConnell, says this: “In the midst of such a discouraging season, fewer Americans are convinced there is something more to this life than their daily activities,” adding, “A large majority still lean toward there being an ultimate purpose for a person’s life, but instead of escaping the pandemic with thoughts of something greater, far fewer strongly hold such a view.”
“A growing number of Americans have become open to the idea that this might be as good as it gets.”Scott McConnell
A recent guest on The Meeting House on Faith Radio, Bernard James Mouser, Professor of Philosophy at Southern Evangelical Seminary, challenged Christians to help people see the potential for uncovering deeper meaning. He shared these comments about the significance of the LifeWay Research survey: “Most of us think of this materialistic world and the result of that, but we can use this as Christians as an opportunity to evangelize, to really press them beyond only thinking about their physical safety.”
He said Christians can challenge people who have experienced hard times, including perhaps the loss of a job, to ask, “What about if you were standing for God today?” Or, “What if you were to die today?” He said that Christians can use the situation surrounding the coronavirus “to point them to spiritual truth and to use this opportunity to evangelize.”
Those who have encountered trying times may be thinking that their current situation may indeed be “as good as it gets,” as McConnell points out. That, in fact, may be true – for some – but, even in times of difficulty and struggle, God offers the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. The Bible teaches us to be content regardless of the circumstances that we face, and that sense of contentment can result from the hope and anticipation of what God wants to do in our lives. We can have purpose even amidst negative surroundings. We can walk in joy even though we struggle. It’s the presence of God in our hearts that makes the difference.
A life with meaning and purpose flows out of how we stand with our Maker. Many have experienced what has been termed, “dis-ease,” in the middle of disease and death, and hearts are tentative. But, if we stand with Christ, we can experience His strength and walk in His triumph.
There is certainly more than what we experience with our senses in this world – there is another world; for the Christian, we have the promise of a new world to come, a place that Jesus has in store for us. That promise of heaven can also add meaning to our lives here on earth, as we realize that we have eternal hope in Him. We can know what our eternal destiny will be by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, through which we receive His promise of eternal life.