"What is the meaning of it, Watson? What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever."Who among us has not wondered that from time to time, especially at the most challenging moments of our lives? Perhaps that is why this quote is rather well known among Sherlockians.
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box"
It is a puzzling question, one that philosophers and theologians have been tackling for centuries. The great detective only asks the question, he doesn't offer his own solution. He does, however, in another place give his viewpoint on how to deal with situations like the one that provoked his cri-de-coeur.
In "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger," he advises the horribly disfigured title character against taking her own life. She wonders what use it is to anyone. "How can you tell?" he responds. "The example of patient suffering is in itself the most precious of all lessons to an impatient world."
The great detective was also a philosopher, and perhaps even a theologian.