3. People’s lives are over in a flash, in a few dozen years. Looking back, they recollect their lives: going to school, working, getting married, having children, awaiting death, their whole lives spent busily rushing around for the sake of family, money, status, fortune and prestige, utterly devoid of the true direction and objectives of human existence, and unable to find any value or meaning in being alive. So people live generation after generation in this painful and empty way. Why are people’s lives so painful and empty? And how can the pain and emptiness of human existence be resolved?
Relevant Words of God:
What is the source of the lifelong suffering from birth, death, illness, and old age that humans endure? What caused people to have these things? Humans did not have them when they were first created, did they? Where, then, did these things come from? They came into being after humans were tempted by Satan and their flesh became degenerate. The pain of human flesh, its afflictions, and its emptiness, as well as the extremely miserable affairs of the human world, only came once Satan had corrupted mankind. After humans were corrupted by Satan, it began to torment them. As a result, they became more and more degenerate. The diseases of humanity grew more and more acute, and their suffering became more and more severe. Increasingly, people sensed the emptiness and tragedy of the human world, as well as their inability to go on living there, and they felt less and less hope for the world. Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering
Since mankind’s contrivance of the social sciences, the mind of man has become occupied by science and knowledge. Science and knowledge then have become tools for the ruling of mankind, and there is no longer sufficient room for man to worship God, and no more favorable conditions for the worship of God. The position of God has sunk ever lower in the heart of man. Without God in his heart, man’s inner world is dark, hopeless and empty. Subsequently many social scientists, historians, and politicians have come to the fore to express theories of social science, the theory of human evolution, and other theories that contradict the truth that God created man, to fill the hearts and minds of mankind. And in this way, those who believe that God created everything have become ever fewer, and those who believe in the theory of evolution have become ever greater in number. More and more people treat the records of the work of God and His words during the age of the Old Testament as myths and legends. In their hearts, people become indifferent to the dignity and greatness of God, to the tenet that God exists and holds dominion over all things. The survival of mankind and the fate of countries and nations are no longer important to them, and man lives in a hollow world concerned only with eating, drinking, and the pursuit of pleasure. … Few people take it upon themselves to seek out where God does His work today, or to look for how He presides over and arranges the destination of man. And in this way, unbeknownst to man, human civilization becomes less and less able to hew to man’s wishes, and there are even many people who feel that, living in such a world, they are less happy than those who have already passed away. Even people of countries that used to be highly civilized air such grievances. 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. If the people of a country or a nation are unable to receive the salvation and care of God, then such a country or nation will tread the road to ruin, toward darkness, and shall be annihilated by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind
Some people live long lives, some people live short lives; some are poor and some are rich; there are ordinary people, and there are the rich and powerful—there are people of all classes. In truth, everyone lives in the same way, in vicious struggle with each other, driven by ambitions and desires, propping themselves up by force of will as they live on. When one sees this present situation, they think: “Why do people live this way? Is there another path that can be followed? Do people have a choice? Why do people live? Do they live only to eat and drink well until they die? Where do they go after they die? There have been so many people, one generation after another—how has there been no other way to live? What is at the root of this?” Mankind do not know where they come from, what their mission is in life; they do not know who is in charge of everything, sovereign over all. People come into the world one generation after another, and, one generation after another, they leave, every generation living the same way, dying the same way, coming into the world in the same way, leaving the world in the same way—and they never find the path. People have all lived in the same way since ancient times: exploring, waiting, wishing to see what mankind will be like in the future—yet none have known this, nor has any seen it. In the final analysis, man does not know who the One is who holds sovereignty over everything and is in charge of everything, nor, indeed, whether He who holds sovereignty over everything exists or not—they do not know the answer. They can only live as they do, and have no alternative. Mankind has lived this way every day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, looking forward one day at a time, enduring one day at a time, even unto today. If people knew what all this was for and how they should live, would they not then have something of a path in life? Would they not then be able to rid themselves of this pain, and no longer have to live by means of their yearnings, nor by means of a sort of hope or sense of curiosity—would they not then no longer have to use such things to support themselves? When people come to understand why they live and why they must die, who is in charge of this world, and whether, within the universe and among all things, there is that one Sovereign who rules everything. When people have obtained these answers, they then have a path to follow. They then know how to live, without having to live by dint of hope, nor any longer by dint of their yearning. They would not find life so wearisome, or so painful. They will have found the reason people live and die—in this way, would they not then be disencumbered? And by being disencumbered, they would be set free and liberated.
What should you ponder in your heart after hearing the song, The One Who Holds Sovereignty Over Everything? If mankind were to know why they live and why they die, and who, in fact, is the Sovereign, the Ruler of the world and all things, and where He is, exactly, and what He requires of man—if mankind could understand these things, they would know how to treat the Creator, and how to worship and obey Him, and they would no longer live in such torment and pain. In the final analysis, there is one truth that people must understand: The path they choose for their lives is crucial, and how they live is also important. How one lives and the path one walks decide whether one’s life is joyful or sorrowful. This is something people should understand. “The lives of all mankind follow this sort of pattern; ancient people were no exception, and modern people are the same as they were of old. They haven’t changed their ways. So, is there a Sovereign among mankind, a legendary God who is in charge of everything? If mankind can find God, the One who is in charge of everything, wouldn’t mankind be capable of feeling happiness? The key now is to find the root of mankind. Where is this root? If mankind found the root, then perhaps they would be able to live in another sort of realm. If mankind is unable to find it, and continues living the same sort of lives as ever, will they be capable of achieving happiness?” When people hear this hymn, they should have such deep feeling in their hearts. If you merely recognize that mankind has been deeply corrupted by Satan, what then? Can you resolve the practical problem of corruption? Even if people know that mankind has been deeply corrupted, do they have a path to salvation if they do not believe in God? Though you may wish to change for the better and live out a human likeness, can you? You are at a dead end! Some people, for example, live for their children; you say you do not wish to do so, but can you achieve this? Some people rush around for wealth and for fame and gain, and you say you do not, but can you achieve this? Unknowingly, you have embarked on that path, and you cannot achieve what you say. How you live in this world is out of your hands! What is the root of this? It is that you do not have true faith. What props up man’s spirit? Where do they look for spiritual support? For spiritual support, people look to being together with their families; to the bliss of marriage; to the enjoyment of material things; to wealth, fame, and gain; to their status, their feelings, and their careers; and to the next generation’s happiness. Does anyone not look to these things for spiritual support? Those with children find it in their children; those without children find it in their careers, in marriage, in status in society, and in fame and gain. The ways of life thus produced are therefore all the same; subject to Satan’s mastery and domain, and in spite of themselves, they all rush about and busy themselves for the sake of fame, gain, their prospects, their careers, their marriages, their families, or for the sake of the next generation, or for carnal pleasures. Is this the right path? However busily people bustle about in this world, however professionally accomplished they are, however happy their families are, however big their family is, however great their renown is—are they capable of embarking on the right path of human life? By chasing after fame and gain, the world, or their careers, are they capable of seeing the fact that God created all things in this world and reigns over the destiny of mankind? It is not possible, is it? If people do not acknowledge the fact that God reigns over the destiny of mankind, then, regardless of their particular pursuit or path, the path they walk is wrong. It is not the right path, but the crooked path, the path of evil. It does not matter if you have derived satisfaction from your spiritual support, or if you have not, and it does not matter where you find that support: It is not genuine faith, and it is not the right path for human life. What is it to have genuine faith? It is to embark on the right path of human life. What is the right path of human life? It is the path that enables people to understand the truth, that enables people’s humanity increasingly to become normal, and that enables them to understand what is good and what is evil, what things are positive and what things are negative, what mankind’s destiny is and who its Master is. When people truly understand that these things are in God’s hands, they are then able to submit to God’s sovereignty and orchestration, and live by God’s words. Only then are they able to embark on the correct path of human life.
Some people have a profound, deeply felt understanding of the phrase “that’s fate,” yet they do not believe in God’s sovereignty in the least; they do not believe that human fate is arranged and orchestrated by God, and are unwilling to submit to the sovereignty of God. Such people are as if adrift on the ocean, tossed by the waves, drifting with the current, with no choice but to wait passively and resign themselves to fate. Yet they do not recognize that human fate is subject to God’s sovereignty; they cannot on their own initiative come to know God’s sovereignty and thereby achieve knowledge of God’s authority, submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, stop resisting fate, and live under God’s care, protection, and guidance. In other words, accepting fate is not the same thing as submitting to the Creator’s sovereignty; belief in fate does not mean that one accepts, recognizes, and knows the Creator’s sovereignty; belief in fate is mere recognition of its truth and its superficial manifestations. This is different from knowing how the Creator rules humanity’s fate, from recognizing the Creator is the source of dominion over the fates of all things, and certainly a far cry from submitting to the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements for humanity’s fate. If a person only believes in fate—even if they feel deeply about it—but is not thereby able to know and recognize the Creator’s sovereignty over the fate of humanity, to submit to it and accept it, then their life will nonetheless be a tragedy, a life lived in vain, a void; they will still be unable to come under the Creator’s dominion, to become a created human being in the truest sense of the term, and to enjoy the Creator’s approval. A person who truly knows and experiences the Creator’s sovereignty should be in an active state, not a state that is passive or helpless. While such a person would accept that all things are fated, they should possess an accurate definition of life and fate: Every life is subject to the Creator’s sovereignty. When one looks back on the road one has walked, when one recollects every phase of one’s journey, one sees that at every step, whether one’s journey was arduous or smooth, God was guiding one’s path, planning it out. It was God’s meticulous arrangements, His careful planning, that led one, unknowingly, to today. To be able to accept the Creator’s sovereignty, to receive His salvation—what great fortune that is! If a person has a negative attitude toward fate, it proves that they are resisting everything that God has arranged for them, that they do not have a submissive attitude. If one has a positive attitude toward God’s sovereignty over human fate, then when one looks back upon one’s journey, when one truly comes to grips with God’s sovereignty, one will more earnestly desire to submit to everything that God has arranged, will have more determination and confidence to let God orchestrate one’s fate and to stop rebelling against God. For one sees that 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
Because people do not recognize God’s orchestrations and God’s sovereignty, they always face fate defiantly and with a rebellious attitude, and they always want to cast off God’s authority and sovereignty and the things fate has in store, hoping in vain to change their current circumstances and alter their fate. But they can never succeed and are thwarted at every turn. This struggle, which takes place deep in one’s soul, brings profound pain of the sort that carves itself into one’s bones, as one fritters away their life all the while. What is the cause of this pain? Is it because of God’s sovereignty, or because a person was born unlucky? Obviously, neither is true. At bottom, it is caused by the paths people take, the ways they choose to live their lives. Some people may not have realized these things. But when you truly know, when you truly come to recognize that God has sovereignty over human fate, when you truly understand that everything God has planned for you and decided for you is a great benefit and protection, then you feel your pain begin to lighten, and your whole being becomes relaxed, free, liberated. Judging from the states of the majority of people, they objectively cannot truly come to terms with the practical value and meaning of the Creator’s sovereignty over human fate, even though on a subjective level, they do not want to keep on living as they did before and want relief from their pain; objectively, they cannot truly recognize and submit to the Creator’s sovereignty, and still less do they know how to seek out and accept the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements. So, if people cannot truly recognize the fact that the Creator has sovereignty over human fate and over all human matters, if they cannot truly submit to the Creator’s dominion, then it will be difficult for them not to be driven and fettered by the idea that “one’s fate is in one’s own hands.” It will be difficult for them to shake off the pain of their intense struggle against fate and the Creator’s authority, and, needless to say, it will also be hard for them to become truly liberated and free, to become people who worship God. But there is an exceedingly simple way to free oneself from this state, which is to bid farewell to one’s former way of living; to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life; to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, view of life, pursuits, desires, and ideals; and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and the likeness of a human being. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God. This sounds easy, but is a hard thing to do. Some people can bear the pain of it, others cannot. Some are willing to comply, others are unwilling. Those who are unwilling lack the desire and the resolution to do so; they are clearly aware of God’s sovereignty, know perfectly well that it is God who plans out and arranges human fate, and yet they still kick and struggle and remain unreconciled to laying their fates in God’s palm and submitting to God’s sovereignty; moreover, they resent God’s orchestrations and arrangements. So there will always be some people who want to see for themselves what they are capable of; they want to change their fates with their own two hands, or to achieve happiness by their own power, to see whether they can overstep the bounds of God’s authority and rise above God’s sovereignty. The tragedy of man is not that he seeks a happy life, not that he pursues fame and fortune or struggles against his own fate through the fog, but that after he has seen the Creator’s existence, after he has learned the fact that the Creator has sovereignty over human fate, he still cannot mend his ways, cannot pull his feet out of the mire, but hardens his heart and persists in his errors. He would rather keep thrashing in the mud, vying obstinately against the Creator’s sovereignty, resisting it until the bitter end, all without the slightest shred of contrition. It is only when he lies broken and bleeding that he at last decides to give up and turn back. This is true human sorrow. So I say, those who choose to submit are wise, and those who choose to struggle and flee are foolish indeed.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III