How Can I Rid Myself of the Pain of Emptiness?
Dear Zheng Hao,
How have you been? My heart is in a great deal of pain, and I’d like to talk to you about it. I’ve always been eager for success, and when I was little I made the resolution that, when I grew up, I would stand out from the crowd and live life at the top. I worked hard and strived for years and I became rich. The people around me see me as somebody to be reckoned with and—all my dreams have come true. I should be really happy, but instead I feel so empty and my heart just feels hollow. I’ve traveled everywhere and have held dinner parties and sung songs with my coworkers, and at the time I always felt really happy. But afterward, that feeling of emptiness would still be there and I can never shake it. What do you think is wrong with me? What am I supposed to do to rid myself of this spiritual emptiness? How are we to live a meaningful life?
I’m good, thank you. When I received your email, I couldn’t help but recall my own past experiences. I used to be just like you, believing that I would be happy if I was rich and if people admired me and looked up to me. I therefore gave up a good job and, ignoring my family’s attempts to dissuade me, threw myself into the unpredictable sea of business. After working hard and striving for a time, my business began to make a profit. My business went from strength to strength and I would spend every day rushing about conducting business, flattering and fawning on the government bigwigs, using both open and surreptitious means to vie with my rivals in the industry until I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I used to believe that even though I suffered and felt a little exhausted, if I obtained both fame and fortune then I should be happy. But not only was I not happy, on the contrary I ended up feeling more and more lost and empty, and I was completely devoid of any joy. I would often go drown my sorrows in booze, but when I sobered up, the emptiness would still be there. I asked many people what we were living for, but the only things they ever said in answer were that we lived to pursue status and money. I felt so lost; if they were right, and we lived to pursue status and money, why then would I still feel such pain and emptiness despite having obtained everything I’d ever wanted? The more I thought about it, the more I felt that life was meaningless, and I even began to wish I was dead. When I finally accepted God’s kingdom gospel, I found in God’s words the root cause of my spiritual emptiness, and I understood how we are supposed to live in order to live lives of value and meaning. Only then was I able to leave my pain and emptiness behind.
I Find the Root Cause of My Emptiness
I read God’s words, “Without God in his heart, man’s inner world is dark, hopeless and empty. … For without the guidance of God, no matter how much rulers and sociologists wrack their brains to preserve human civilization, it is to no avail. No one can fill the emptiness in man’s heart, for no one can be the life of man, and no social theory can free man from the emptiness with which he is afflicted. Science, knowledge, freedom, democracy, leisure, comfort: these bring man only a temporary consolation. Even with these things, man will inevitably sin and bemoan the injustices of society. These things cannot restrain man’s craving and desire to explore. This is because man was made by God and the senseless sacrifices and explorations of man can only lead to more distress and can only cause man to exist in a constant state of fear, not knowing how to face the future of mankind or how to face the path that lies ahead. Man will even come to fear science and knowledge, and fear even more the feeling of emptiness. In this world, regardless of whether you live in a free country or one without human rights, you are utterly incapable of escaping the fate of mankind. Whether you are the ruler or the ruled, you are utterly incapable of escaping the desire to explore the fate, mysteries, and destination of mankind, much less are you capable of escaping the bewildering sense of emptiness. Such phenomena, which are common to all of mankind, are called social phenomena by sociologists, yet no great man can come forth to solve such problems. Man, after all, is man, and the position and life of God cannot be replaced by any man. Mankind does not just require a fair society in which everyone is well-fed and is equal and free; what mankind needs is the salvation of God and His provision of life to them. Only when man receives God’s provision of life and His salvation can the needs, the yearning to explore, and the spiritual emptiness of man be resolved” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 2: God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind).
God’s words fully articulated the root cause of why we live in pain and emptiness. We human beings were created by God, and we were originally supposed to believe in God, heed His words and worship Him. But because Satan seduced and corrupted us, we grew apart from God and we began to live by the wrong life axioms of Satan. We lost the provision and guidance of God’s words and we came under Satan’s domain, and that is why we live in such emptiness and pain. We pursue such satanic axioms of logic and heretical fallacies as “Money is first,” “Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,” “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries,” and “You must win your own happiness,” and in order to obtain money and status and to enjoy physical pleasures, we rush about and work ourselves to the bone, expending all our energy, so much so that we rack our brains and go to any lengths to achieve these things, and even ruin our own health in the process. Although we may win the things we desire, and although we may appear successful to others and enjoy physical comforts, within the deepest recesses of our spirits, an indescribable feeling of emptiness is always there, to the point where many people exclaim: “Life is nothing but suffering!” I also have a lot of experience in this regard. So as to make more money, I spent many years dealing with officials, inviting them out for meals and drinks and parties. I drank so much that I ended up with gastric bleeding, and because I would often not come home until the early hours, my wife began to suspect me of having an affair, so we would end up arguing, and she would threaten divorce. When it came to my dealings with my rivals in the industry, I knew perfectly well that some of them were stealing my business behind my back using underhanded means, but I still had to smile and play along, and would ponder afterward how I could steal the business back…. And so, within the giant melting pot that is society, I was being corrupted more and more deeply by Satan, and I became sly and deceitful, selfish and greedy, wicked and corrupt, without the slightest semblance of a human being. People thought I was honorable and successful, famous and wealthy, but no one knew how much I was suffering inside. It was like wearing a mask every day, forcing myself to put on a happy face for other people’s sake, but deep inside I always felt pain and emptiness, and I had neither peace nor joy. At last I now understand that, if we are without the truth, if we are unable to discern all the different axioms of logic and heretical fallacies that come from Satan, and we continue to live by these things and expend our all in pursuit of fame, fortune, status and physical comforts, then not only will we fail to find spiritual fulfillment, but will instead come under Satan’s domain and be fooled and harmed by Satan. If we are unaware of the value and meaning of human life and we do not come before the Creator to seek the truth, then we will just remain firmly controlled and bound by Satan, with no way to rid ourselves of the emptiness and pain we feel in our spirits. This is because only God is the source of our life, and only the words of God can resolve the problem of our spiritual emptiness. Without the guidance and provision of God’s words and without God in our hearts, then no matter how much we may struggle by relying on our own hard work and no matter how comfortable our physical lives may be, we will still feel pain in the deeps of our spirits!
The Path to Ridding Ourselves of Emptiness
Later, I read these words of God, “… when one does not comprehend fate, when one does not understand God’s sovereignty, when one gropes their way forward willfully, staggering and tottering through the fog, the journey is too difficult, too heartbreaking. So when people recognize God’s sovereignty over human fate, the clever ones choose to know it and accept it, to bid farewell to the painful days when they tried to build a good life with their own two hands, and to stop struggling against fate and pursuing their so-called ‘life goals’ in their own way. When one does not have God, when one cannot see Him, when one cannot clearly recognize God’s sovereignty, every day is meaningless, worthless, miserable. Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and suffering without relief, such that one cannot bear to look back on one’s past. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life will one gradually begin to break free from all heartbreak and suffering, and to be rid of all the emptiness of life” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III).
From God’s words, I came to understand that our fates as human beings are all ruled and arranged within the hands of God; God gave us our very breath in the hope that we would be able to hear His words, live before Him, accept His sovereignty and ultimately know God and obey Him. And yet I lived by the fallacies and axioms of Satan, and constantly went along with my own thoughts in opposing and contesting God’s sovereignty, and I therefore suffered much pain. Moreover, because I had not recognized God’s sovereignty, I had gone along with evil trends so as to obtain money, fame and fortune, I had vied with and strived against others, and had become increasingly crooked and deceitful. I lost my conscience, my reason, my dignity, my integrity, and Satan had corrupted me and toyed with me until I was in a state of unbearable pain. Only then did I see that the money, the fame and the fortune that I was suffering so much to pursue were actually tools Satan uses to fool us, to harm us, and to estrange us from the care and protection of God. Pursuing these things only increases our sense of emptiness and pain, and our lives become devoid of all happiness. At the same time, I also found in God’s words the correct goals to pursue, and I realized that only by accepting God’s salvation, submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and by following the path of fearing God and shunning evil can we live at peace and at ease, liberated and free. Take the experiences of Job in the Bible, for example; he always trod the path of fearing God and shunning evil, and he was a righteous man in the eyes of God. When Job possessed great wealth and property, he did not capitalize on these things in order to enjoy the admiration and esteem of others, and he did not covet physical pleasures. Instead, he feared lest his actions and behavior displease God, and he therefore never attended his children’s feasts and often made sacrifices on their behalf. When Satan tried to tempt him, when he lost all his property and his children, when his whole body broke out in painful boils and he was confronted by his wife and then his friends, he was still able to extol God’s holy name. Job didn’t care at all about what people thought of him, much less did he care about anything he had lost while he was being tempted; instead, he focused on recognizing and submitting to the sovereignty of God, and on how to increase his faith, reverence and obedience to God during his trials. Because of Job’s pursuit, he ultimately stood witness for God and caused Satan to be so utterly shamed and defeated that it would never dare to try and tempt Job again. Job heard the voice of God, he was fortunate enough to witness the sight of Jehovah God’s back, and he was doubly blessed by God. The life of Job holds the most value for us, and it is worth us emulating.
Only When I Turned to God Did I Find True Happiness
As I attended more gatherings and read more of God’s words, I gradually came to understand some truths. I began to learn to commit business matters to God and look to God, I learned to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and I stopped vying with and striving against my rivals in the industry. In my spare time, when I was not working normal business hours, I actively participated in the church life, attended gatherings and read God’s words, and I performed my duty in the church—my spirit felt enriched. I saw that the brothers and sisters in the church were all honest people in accordance with God’s requirements, that they were all pure and open, and that there was no scheming against each other or backstabbing going on; I felt so happy to be with them. Later, no matter what difficulty or issue I encountered, I could be open with my brothers and sisters about it and seek and fellowship with them, and they always helped me to find the way to resolve it within the pages of God’s words. They would also fellowship with me about their own experiences and understanding. Listening to them, my heart filled with light, and the dejection, emptiness and pain I’d felt in my heart gradually vanished. My spirit came to feel genuinely peaceful and at ease, and I felt that living in this way was true happiness! I truly came to appreciate that only by worshiping the Creator, by understanding all truths in God’s words, by remedying our wrong outlook on life and our wrong values, and by no longer living with the poisons of Satan, but instead submitting to God’s sovereignty, practicing God’s words and living before Him, can the deepest recesses of our hearts be filled with light and with feelings of security and enjoyment, and only then can our entire beings be liberated and set free. This is the only way to live that has both meaning and value! Just as God’s word says, “What comes from God, what He has and is, and everything about Him, are greater than any other thing, including the thing or the person you once believed you treasured most. That is to say, if a person cannot gain words from the mouth of God or they do not understand His will, they cannot gain rest. … Everything that God does is truth and life. The truth is something that people cannot lack in their lives, and it is something they can never do without; you could also say that it is the greatest thing. Although you cannot look at it or touch it, its importance to you cannot be ignored; it is the only thing that can bring rest to your heart” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III).
Yubin, that covers my experiences in this regard, and I hope that you too will be able to find in God’s words the correct direction in which to pursue, and that you will be able to leave all your emptiness and pain behind. If you have any more issues, feel free to email me anytime, and we will rely on God together to resolve them—the truths expressed by God can resolve any problem we might have. Finally, I’d like to share with you another passage of God’s words: “Humanity, having strayed from the Almighty’s provision of life, is ignorant of the purpose of existence, but fears death nonetheless. They are without help or support…. You live in this way, without hope, as do others, without aim. Only the Holy One of legend will save the people who, moaning in the midst of their suffering, long desperately for His arrival. So far, such belief has not been realized in those who lack consciousness. Nevertheless, the people still yearn for it so. The Almighty has mercy on these people who have suffered deeply; at the same time, He is fed up with these people who lack consciousness, as He has had to wait too long for an answer from humanity. He wishes to seek, to seek your heart and your spirit, to bring you water and food and to awaken you, that you may no longer be thirsty and hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time. He is keeping watch by your side, waiting for you to turn back around. He is waiting for the day you suddenly recover your memory: when you realize that you came from God, that, at some unknown time you lost your direction, at some unknown time you lost consciousness on the road, and at some unknown time acquired a ‘father’; when you realize, furthermore, that the Almighty has always been keeping watch, waiting there a very, very long time for your return” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Sighing of the Almighty).
May God bless you so that you can understand within His words the painstaking efforts He goes to to save mankind, and so that you may turn back to God at the earliest opportunity! Thanks be to God!
September 5, 2018
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