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Your Life, Work and Service Has Purpose
Wednesday, June 14, 2023 by Dan R. Graham, LPC-S

          Unknown to many outside of the world of secular psychology, Viktor Frankl has authored several best-selling books on the subject of existentialism, which is the philosophical idea that centers on the analysis of a person’s individual existence. Although man experiences life in a universe that he has little control over, he is nevertheless responsible for his feelings, actions and thoughts no matter the circumstances.

            Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning (Pocket Books, 1959), first published in Austria in 1946, demonstrates several truths about the human race as a whole, and each individual represented therein. First, he speaks of life in general, and more specifically, his own life – as having meaning. In other words, your life, his life, our existence, has purpose whether we realize it or not. Secondly, regardless of life’s circumstances, each of us is responsible to maintain our human dignity and press forward. Because our lives have purpose we are never to give up on that life! We are to run the race set before us and never give in to the temptation to quit. Some may object by saying, “Yea, right! Easy for you to say! YOU don’t know MY situation!” That’s probably true; I don’t, and neither did/does Frankl. But he could probably relate to most of life’s more serious challenges.

            Frankl spent several years in various concentration camps during the Second World War, particularly Auschwitz, where he faced possible death and torment on a daily basis. He recalls his arrival. He and his fellow captives were instructed to strip naked for a shower before submitting to a complete shaving. All hair was shorn. “While we were waiting for the shower, our nakedness was brought home to us: we really had nothing now except our bare bodies – even minus hair; all we possessed, literally, was our naked existence. ….We know that we had nothing to lose except our so ridiculously naked lives” (p 33). Yet, he managed to maintain hope and dignity by grasping tightly to the God ordained reality that all life has purpose and meaning, no matter the man-made circumstance. He would not allow himself to be overcome with grief, despair, hopelessness or consumed by hatred. Even though all prisoners were treated with equal hostility and contempt, he and several others embraced their naked reality with a hopeful eye toward the future. He noticed through his experience that some prisoners maintained the spirit of goodness found in their God created humanity, which stood in sharp contrast to the overall camp environment. Most detainees however, questioned the purpose of their meager existence.  In all ways visible, they had nothing - not necessarily because the Nazis took everything from them, which they did, but because some prisoners had lost all perspective of their purpose and meaning, and their future life after prison. The Nazis could take away all things physical but, according to Frankl, it was the choice of the detainee to relinquish hope, purpose and meaning in one’s life.  

            “I speculated,” says Frankl, “that for most of them [prisoners] these losses had really been few. Whoever was still alive had reason for hope. Health, family, happiness, professional abilities, fortune, position in society – all these were things that could be achieved again or restored. After all, we still had all our bones intact. Whatever we had gone through could still be an asset to us in the future” (p 103). I agree that most experiences can serve as an asset, but I disagree with the notion that health, family and fortune can be always restored. A person might be able to start a new family, but deceased members of the former family are still deceased - not restored. Amazingly, Frankl then quotes from Nietzsche “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger…. Human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have a meaning, and that this infinite meaning of life includes suffering and dying, privation and death…. That the hopelessness of our struggle [camp life] did not detract from its dignity and its meaning” (p 104). What I find ironic about Frankl’s position, is that he was reportedly an agnostic. He apparently did not possess personal belief in God, yet he recognized that others do, and spoke truth concerning the purpose and meaning of life. Though he may not have acknowledged the reality of God’s existence, he recognized and espoused the truth that each life has purpose and meaning. Let’s take this idea farther by contending that a person’s life not only has purpose and meaning while alive, but eternally.

            If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that Frankl studied the Old Testament, specifically Psalms 139. In verses 1- 4 David assures the reader that God personally knows each one of us. Verses 13 -16 tells us that God ordained our days, from our birth to our death. Flip over a few pages to Jeremiah 29.11. God promises to be involved in the life of Jeremiah the prophet by saying “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God gives us the same assurance. Missing from Frankl’s thought-provoking treatise, however, is the truth that God cares about us and our future, to include our eternal future more than we do. He cares about every aspect of our lives - from the point of our conception onward into eternity – He cares. What and who we are matters to God. What we do, say, think and feel matters to God. Everything about us matters to God. In short, we matter to God.

            Near the top of God's list of concerns is our work. This message is brought to life in Sherman and Hendrick’s book Your Work Matters to God (1987, NavPress). Some people may not have given the idea much thought – but, our work matters to the Almighty. Consider the author’s statistics which state that the average person spends anywhere from 40% to 75% of their life in work-related tasks (employment), 35% on family, and 5% to 10% on church-related [or community] activities. With that much time invested in work it stands to reason that God would be interested in it, whether we are military or civilian, in full time ministry or secular endeavors, for profit or volunteer… whatever it may be – God is immensely interested.

Why do you suppose that is?     

          The first reason God is interested in our work is because it has intrinsic value and is inherently worth doing. Work, standing alone, is significant because God himself is a worker. The first biblical mention of God ‘at work’ is found in Genesis 1 where He is creating the heavens and the earth. He rested from His work on the seventh day. Colossians 1:16-17 informs us that God continues His work by maintaining His creation. In Psalms 104:10-30 God is seen meeting the needs of His people; Deuteronomy 11:1-7 describes God working out His divine purposes in history. And of course, atonement, that is it say, Christ’s work on the cross, which was necessary to provide our eternal salvation, was no easy task. That was, is, and continues to be His greatest work of all.

          God created humankind in His image and likeness. He was/is a worker; it stands to reason then, that we are workers. Work is part of God’s plan and purpose for us (Genesis 1:26, 28-29). The work He brings our way gives us purpose. Labor is ordained and blessed by the creator who employs us as His coworkers. God planted the Garden of Eden and put man into it to cultivate and care for it. He did not need us to participate as if the garden would die without us. But instead He chose for us to take part; He wants our participation. Work is a privilege and a function of His grace (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).

          The question may arise concerning the type of work we engage in today. Obviously, none of us work in God’s hand-made Garden of Eden, but we do work somewhere within His creation. So, what type of work has he given us to do? What type of work would God approve of? Are we still co-labors with God regardless of the type of work? The answer may surprise you! Biblically speaking, all legitimate work is an extension of God’s work and His love toward mankind. As a human activity, work in and of itself is good. However, it can be used for ungodly gain or purposes. For example, work that does not fulfill God’s desire for us to serve and love others is not of God. Robbing banks or cooking meth can be hard work, but it does not fulfill God’s command to love others as you love yourself; nor does it uphold God’s laws. In order for there to be a direct and worthwhile connection between God and our work, it must contribute to your overall wellbeing, and or to that of others.  Our labor is essentially good and godly when it meets our own needs, that of our family or the needs of others. A car mechanic may think of himself as ‘just a mechanic,’ but a guy like me depends on a good mechanic to keep my vehicles running smoothly and safely. I value his service to me. Without a reliably running vehicle I would not be able to transport myself to and from work where I am able to contribute to the lives of others just as the mechanic has contributed to my life. All of us – no matter what work we do, serve others. The money we earn is used to maintain and improve our lives; a portion of earnings can and should be given to those with legitimate need – our local church who is actively serving the community, perhaps the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, or other worthy organizations you know and trust. All of this is made possible by your work – no matter what type of work you do. Yes, my friend – your work is valuable to God because the results of your work serves and provides for others. Your work in an eternal investment in the lives of others.

          Work is also a gift from God. If you don’t believe that, just ask the unemployed who desire work. Most people are blessed by their employment or volunteer labor. The Bible affirms the idea that work is a gift (Ecclesiastes 3:13).  First, the nature of work is good and not evil. Secondly, work was given prior to the sin and fall of Adam, not after (Genesis 1-3). Some will erroneously argue that work is a result of Adam's sin. Not true. Scripture declares that God cursed the ground, not the cultivation of it, nor the worker. Even after the fall God remains positive concerning mankind, yet because the ground was cursed due to Adam’s sin, work became more difficult but still doable. God enables man to succeed to what we put our hearts and hands to do.

          Occasionally, we all have bad days on the job. Many employment environments are pleasant, some are not. Either way, all of them are influenced by the overall sinfulness of man. The tasks involved with the work itself are not usually the issue. It is the people involved. We are all sinful beings trying to make it through another day. Universal sin has made life much harder for all mankind. As with  uncultivated soil, the present environment is less cooperative than it was in the Garden. Sin renders our short life and limited work somewhat futile. All we do and accomplish will find itself in the ash heap of history, says the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. On the surface that sounds like it contradicts what you just read in the previous paragraphs. With Scripture however, we must read, interpret, and comprehend it in its proper context and with balance. In ourselves and our own efforts, nothing worthwhile will last. All that God has created thus far, with the exception of the human soul, will perish. The vehicle the mechanic repairs for me will eventually find itself in the junk yard – but the service the mechanic rendered to me will not. That guy contributed to my life via his work, his profession. That is what God is concerned with – how our work contributes to the welfare of others. God loves us and cares for each one of us without exception. He fulfills our needs by working through those around us. The physical results of our work have temporal value, but the service we render to others in Jesus’ name has eternal value that God will never forget. So the reality is this: the only thing of eternal value that you will leave behind when you die is that which you have invested in the lives of others. Everything else is temporary and subject to decay.

          This concept, incidentally, was a major cornerstone of the early American work ethos and hence, contributed to its national prosperity and relative wealth; we are to work for others as if we are working directly for God Himself (investment in others). When the bulk of society exercises this work ethic, their economy prospers and so do those who participate. When the purpose of their work turns from God honoring to selfish gain (self-focus with minimal investment in others), the economy suffers and so do those who participate.

          The above issues notwithstanding, the highest example of a dedicated worker is found in Jesus Christ. He came to earth to love the unlovable, to care for those nobody else cared for, and to provide each of us the way out of sin’s rat race. During His earthly ministry, Jesus focused on maintaining proper perspective and priorities in His life. He knew what His mission was; He knew the difference between things of passing importance and that which had eternal value. The souls of men for example, were (is) of utmost significance to Him. The souls of man have eternal value. That is why God the Father sent Jesus Christ to Earth, to live among us, and to suffer a substitutionary death on the cross. Left to our own devices, man would continue in sin to his own detriment, that is to say – his eternal judgment. The work Christ accomplished on the cross was intended to provide individuals the only avenue out of sin and the judgment thereof, and into God’s loving forgiveness and eternal salvation. We deserve judgment which is what the cross represents. Instead of each of us being judged as unholy and unworthy by God’s standard because of our sin, Christ experienced that judgment for us on the cross – hence the term: substitutionary. Jesus Christ died that we might live, spiritually and eternally; also known as ‘salvation’. That was His work. The work of the Holy Spirit was to raise Him from the dead thereby giving us victory over sin and death, both physically and spiritually. His work has eternal value and it benefits all of humankind.

          Within the human race, there seems to be three general groups of people. Group one includes those who reject God in every way. The second group accepts that God is creator and enjoys His creation but have no further need for Him. As such, both groups reject His love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and salvation; they will benefit from God's work of creation, but not from His work of salvation. Those in group three will acknowledge God and His rightful position and authority as God in their lives. They will confess their sinfulness to Him, turn away from that sin (repent) and personally receive Jesus’s work on the cross in their behalf. The work God did and continues to do has purpose, eternal value. Your work can have purpose too, and eternal value as well.

          As we have discovered earlier, our lives and our work have meaning. They have purpose; no matter what! The questions I leave with you, however, are these –

First, have you acknowledged that God is God and He is responsible for your existence and sustenance?

Secondly, have you acknowledged that God has blessed you with an eternal purpose to serve Him, others and yourself – that your work and life matters to Him regardless of your circumstances?

Lastly, how have you personally responded to the work that Christ accomplished on the cross? The work and subsequent benefit my mechanic has to offer me is all well and good – but his offer is useless to me unless I reach out and accept his work and claim it for myself. Likewise, God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is useless to us unless we reach out and personally claim it as our own. Appropriating the benefits of creation is a no-brainer. We can’t help it. But the gift of salvation is a different matter. Accepting the work of the cross is a volitional choice on our part. We must decide. Do we choose to appropriate the Lord’s substitutionary work on the cross that leads to salvation – something we cannot do for ourselves – or do we reject it? Each of us has a choice. His loving kindness and forgiveness is waiting. 

What’s your decision?

We offer help today so that you can have hope for tomorrow!



Frankl, V. (1946) Man’s Search for Meaning.  New York: Pocket Books

Sherman, D., Hendricks, W. (1990) Your Work Matters to God.  NavPress

Thompson, F. (1964) The New Chain Reference Bible


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Dr. Ronnie Sarratt From Weatherford, TX At 11/9/2023 4:05:45 PM

Absolutely perfect description of how we accept salvation and walk daily allowing the Holy spirit to work through or daily lives to share and shine the Light of the World, Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reply by: Dan Graham

Thank you Dr. Sarratt for your kind and encouraging words. We try to offer blogs and articles that guide and uplift the reader, and in doing so, honor God in all that we do.

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