Monday, May 3, 2010

The 'why' of our existence

Have you ever looked up into the vast night sky and gazed into space? We here in Singapore aren’t as blessed as many of our brothers and sisters are, living in areas where there is so much land that they can just go into open spaces where there is less lights illuminating the sky, allowing the brightness of the millions of stars to overwhelm the star gazer. I remember going to Tasmania quite a few years ago, and in venturing out of the room at night, happened to look up and was just floored at how beautiful the stars were that night. If any of you readers happen to live where gazing into a vast night sky is possible without the use of a telescope, I’d encourage you to do that, and ponder the question – why do we exist? Of all the stars, planets and solar systems out there, why are you given the life that you have right now?

Our faith tells us that we are not made on the whim and fancy of some creator who arbitrarily decided to give us (and everything else, for that matter) life. Our faith reminds us, through the Word, that God has a great plan in store for us when he created. He created us out of love, and for love, and rightly, to glorify God. In other words, we were loved into being. In fact, the very act of a marriage consummation is itself a testimony of life being something that comes out of love.

But the question remains – did we need to be created by God? Is God in himself complete, and sufficient without our being created? He has to be. If God can experience a lack, an insufficiency, or any kind of incompletion, he would not be God. He would need something else, or someone else to ‘complete’ him. But God has to be in himself, always complete. In our reflection of life, I am sure that our view of the world and our attitude toward life itself will change for the better when we come to see that God did not create us for himself, but so that we could participate in his divine life. In other words, God made us for our sakes, and not for his. Life in God, life in the Trinity was (and is) so complete, so overwhelmingly beautiful that the life of God bubbles over into more and more love, and more and more life.

I happened to watch an episode of a documentary recently entitled “I shouldn’t be alive”. Each episode apparently features the very dramatic and near-death experience of one person, and how this person survived that particular life-threatening situation. The one I watched featured how an experienced sportswoman who went on a training run alone in the wilderness encountered an accident and fell a great height, shattering her pelvis. Through several days of keeping herself from slipping into unconsciousness, she managed to keep awake till she was found by the authorities and brought to medical help, and to life. Indeed, under such treacherous circumstances, a person like this lady recounting such an incident should say, “I shouldn’t be alive”.

When we find ourselves pondering over our lives, our very existence, and the ‘why’ that we are here at all, I believe that our lives will change, our attitudes towards our enemies, our refraining from acts of forgiveness and kindness will soften the moment we come to the realization that we should not be created at all, but we were. That there is no need for us to “be” should floor us, perhaps like the way that night sky floored me that night in Tasmania. But the fact that we are, the fact that we exist, shows the grace of God at work, and the tremendous act of God’s mercy.

May we not need to be found in the ‘jaws of death” in order for us to appreciate greatly that we have been formed in the loving “hands of God”.


  1. Hi Fr. Luke,
    I, too love to look up at the night sky, and marvel at the sheer beauty what's before me. On a clear and cloudless night, the view is simply breathtaking. Reminds me of this (from a song by Setphen Curtis Chapman)

    Sometimes I look above me
    When (the) stars are shining
    And I feel so small
    How could the God of heaven, and all creation
    Know I'm here at all?
    But then in the silence, He whispers
    My child, I created you too
    And you're my greatest creation
    I even gave My Son for you....

    God Bless,

  2. Yes, Fr. Luke! Looking up into the night sky on a clear and cloudless night is a humbling experience indeed. It would take a POET to describe the sheer immensity and beauty of creation (I certainly couldn't). Just where do we figure in all this? I am reminded of the words in a Stephen Curtis Chapman song:

    Sometimes I look above me
    when stars are shining
    and I feel so small
    How could the God of Heaven, and all creation
    know I'm here at all?
    But then, in the silence, He whispers
    my child I created you too
    And you're my most precious creation
    I even gave My Son for you

    Peace and Joy,

  3. Dear Padre

    We may be the result of "something that comes out of love". But what about those folks out there who say, but we didn't ask to be born, for whatever reasons, perhaps the sufferings and brokeness in life have taken a terrible toll?


  4. More often than not, these experiences cannot be sought ....neither can we refuse -yet there is trepidation ( fear) when we are thus confronted. Could it be because we have no choice but be confronted with our 'real' self ?'s most difficult to see us as we are what more to accept.....& love ?? tessa

  5. Leaving the house early one morning last week, I actually saw a beautiful meteor streaking across the morning sky.

    Being a newly baptised, my first thought was not how beautiful God's creation is but that of "what does this mean? What is this sign for?" It took me some moments to erase these thoughts from my mind and to replace one that is faith-filled, i.e. be awed by God.
    Thank you once again, Fr Luke, in alerting us to God's love through the wonders and mysteries of his creation surrounding us every day.

  6. Thank you Fr. Luke. You must be God's Grace for me. I'm actually at a crisis, spiritually. For the last 2 weeks, deep within, it's just numbness, emptiness, darkness and miseries....I guess I'm just disillusioned by the things I see and experienced in church. I find myself unable to lift myself out of this darkness, unlike in the past. I am at a complete loss. I didn't even desire going for daily Masses which I love going. Yet, your sharing on the need for reflections after watching the documentary "I shouldn't be alive" reminded me of the 2nd chance God has given me. Indeed, I wouldn't be here today, but in burning hell, if it's not for God's Merciful Grace. Thank you Fr. Luke.