By Si Ming, South Korea
In the early morning, I sat at my small desk by the window, quietly watching the dance and song video The Happiness in the Good Land of Canaan. My heart soared with the melody and I smiled unconsciously. I truly felt the peace and sureness of coming before God.
I Fall Into Sin and Live in Emptiness and Pain
I came to South Korea a few years ago in order to make more money. After a period of hard work, I gradually began to live a more prosperous life, but in my heart I often felt empty and hollow. My friends would often invite me out to eat and drink alcohol, and to go to karaoke bars and the like to sing and dance. Often, we would get home late at night. At that time, popular sayings amongst us were “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,” “Get drunk today and worry about things tomorrow,” and “Take advantage of being young to eat, drink and be merry and enjoy our lives, as when we get old, we won’t be able to enjoy anything.” These sayings struck a chord with me and I thought that this must be how we should live our lives. Afterward, every time my friends got together and went out, they always asked me to go with them. It just so happened that I didn’t have anything to do after work and was bored anyway, so I always went with them. When we went somewhere to eat, we would eat and drink like a band of brothers, talking and laughing, and feeling very happy. After eating and drinking, we would go to karaoke bars and other places to sing and dance. After our feasting and revelry, I felt that being with such a big group of friends, talking, laughing, being together with them and having such great fun, was really great. Sometimes, they didn’t want to go out, but I did. In that kind of situation, any tiredness I felt from work, all my frustrations in life and anything I wasn’t happy about disappeared in an instant. Gradually, I came to believe that it was stupid not to eat, drink and be merry in life, and that this kind of life was the only one that brought joy and that lifted me above the drudgery. After work, I drank without inhibition almost every day, but afterward, in my free time, my heart would still feel empty and desolate. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why do people live? How can I fill the void in my spirit?
Although I was feeling all kinds of emotions, life and work had to go on. Because my workmates and I had to stop work whenever it rained, everyone would then go to a mahjong parlor in their free time to distract themselves playing mahjong. They asked me to go along too, and I thought: “I’ll go play for a little while. We have free time anyway. I’ll play mahjong to pass the time and keep myself occupied over these boring days.” And so, I spent all day at the mahjong table, always losing a great deal and not winning much. Sometimes, I would lose between two and three million Korean won a day. While I was playing, I felt really happy and was enjoying myself to the fullest. But after I got back home, things were still just the same old way, and I would feel so terrible for the money that I’d lost. I would tell myself not to play mahjong anymore, but the next day, true to form, I’d be back at the mahjong parlor. I ended up losing more and more, and I even owed my friends money. I hated myself for not being able to exercise any self-restraint. In the beginning, I’d intended just to play to get through the boring times, and just play a bit of mahjong for fun. I never imagined that I’d end up adding such pain to my emptiness. Later on, the work project came to an end and I’d pretty much managed to pay off all the money I owed, so I moved on to another worksite.
After I got there, I continued to get together with my friends and go out eating, drinking and having fun with the money I earned. All it brought me was temporary happiness, and my life was still so empty, so much so that I felt like I was living in a false world. Everyone was friends on the surface—eating, drinking, having fun together, enjoying life—but actually everyone only cared about themselves. Especially when a matter touched on their personal interests, they would attack and judge each other behind their backs. In my spare time, I would often think: “Am I to live my life like this? Countless people around me are all following in the tracks of others. Could it be that there is no other way to live than this?”
What Is the Root Cause of the Emptiness of Human Life?
One day at work, I met Enhao. We got to know each other and told each other everything, and we became close friends. Once, in conversation, I poured out to him all the depression I was feeling in my heart. He said to me, “I’m going to take you somewhere, and all your problems will be solved.” This is how I ended up going with him to church. I told the brothers and sisters about my experiences, and I took the initiative to ask the questions: “Why is human life so empty? How on earth can we rid ourselves of the emptiness and pain of life?”
A sister then said to me, “Brother, these questions that you’ve asked perplex many people. People’s standard of life is now getting better, and we enjoy more and more material pleasures, and yet the void within our spirits gets greater by the day. No one understands why this is, but God’s words reveal the root cause of mankind’s pain and emptiness. Let’s read a passage of God’s words, ‘A world in man’s heart with no place for God is dark, empty without hope. … 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 are but a temporary respite. 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. Because man was made by God and the senseless sacrifices and explorations of man can only lead to more distress. Man will exist in a constant state of fear, will not know 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 within him. … Man, after all, is man. 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, but the salvation of God and His provision of life to them. Only when man receives the salvation of God and His provision of life to them can the needs, yearning to explore, and spiritual emptiness of man be resolved.’”
After reading God’s words, the sister continued to fellowship, saying: “God’s words have thoroughly explained the root cause of our emptiness and pain. After we were corrupted by Satan, we began to shun God, and we lost the guidance and supply of God’s words and we lived under Satan’s power, and this is why mankind lives such empty, painful lives. In our lives, we all struggle and rush about for the sake of money, fame and fortune and physical pleasures, and the more we pursue these things, the more unsatisfied and greedier we become. When we obtain these things, our material standard of life improves and our flesh gains enjoyment, but after we’ve enjoyed them, our hearts feel empty once again. When we cannot obtain these things, we feel even more pained and helpless. Therefore, people who have no money or status feel empty and they have no drive in life, and this is exactly how those who do have money and status and great enjoyment in life feel as well—empty and without any drive. Some people have tried many ways to fill the void in their spirits; they go to dance clubs, they smoke and drink, go shopping, go travelling, and some people even try drugs. But no matter what we do, it is all to no avail. This shows that money, fame and fortune and physical pleasures cannot resolve mankind’s emptiness, nor can they make us happy and joyful. We, mankind, were created by God, and only by coming before God, accepting His salvation and living by His word can our hearts feel at ease and at peace, and can we rid ourselves of this emptiness.”
After listening to the sister’s fellowship, I thought again about God’s words, and I felt as though His words had spoken right to my heart. Although I had no worries about being able to afford food or clothing at that time, I still wasn’t happy in life. In order to pass the time and rid myself of my emptiness, I would often go out with my friends, eating, drinking and having fun. At those times, I would feel physically satisfied and would appear, on the surface, to be very happy. But when I got home, especially when I was all alone, I would feel incredibly empty and helpless, so much so that I would feel like I had no goals in life, and that life itself was meaningless. My life of lavish spending, debauchery and uninhibited drinking had brought me only temporary happiness, but I’d never felt true happiness. Perhaps belief in God really was the only way I could solve my spiritual emptiness.
I Have Hope of Ridding Myself of Emptiness
The sister then played a hymn video called If I Were Not Saved by God. This hymn made me feel as though I’d experienced the words myself and, as I sang, every scene of my life played through my mind like a movie. My previous life had been one of uninhibited drinking, not knowing where mankind came from or how we should live, with no goals in life and nothing to look forward to, but instead just muddling aimlessly along all day like it says in the hymn, “struggling painfully in sin, living without any hope.” Moreover, I saw that, after the brothers and sisters in the video began believing in God, they lived free and liberated lives. I found this deeply stirring to my heart and, at that moment, I felt that God truly was capable of saving us from our empty and painful lives, and I wished to continue studying God’s work.
Afterward, through reading God’s words and meeting and fellowshiping with brothers and sisters, I came to understand such aspects of the truth as the source of mankind’s degeneracy, how Satan corrupts man, how God saves man, and how to live out a genuine human likeness. I saw that the words expressed by Almighty God could not possibly have been spoken by any human being, and His words showed me the direction to go in life and taught me what to pursue in order to live out a meaningful life—they were so greatly helpful to me. I later joined the church and often attended meetings and fellowshiped God’s words with my brothers and sisters. I felt very enriched by living in this way, and my spirit experienced a peace and joy it had never felt before.
The Root Cause of My Inability to Resist Temptation
One day, after I’d finished work, my workmates asked me to go out with them. I thought about how I hadn’t been out eating and drinking with them for a long time and how my life had become a little insipid, and I thought it would be great to go out with them and seek some distraction for a while. And so, I went out with them. After I got home that evening, I quietened my heart and pondered: “I now, but does it please God for me to live such a profligate life like the unbelievers? This isn’t how a Christian should act.” So I came before God to pray: “O God! I no longer wish to fall into degeneracy, but I can’t rid myself of temptation. Please help me to overcome these physical desires and temptations.” Later, I read God’s words, “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the domain of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud. Even when they hear the truth, those who live in darkness give no thought to putting it into practice, nor are they inclined to seek out God even if they have beheld His appearance. How could a mankind so depraved have any chance of salvation? How could a mankind so decadent live in the light?”
From God’s words, I came to understand why I was able to believe in God and yet was unable to endure being tempted by my workmates, and why my heart still enjoyed living such a profligate life with them: It was because of the effects caused by the evil trends in society. All manner of popular sayings in society, like such erroneous life axioms as “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,” and “Life is short. Enjoy it while you can,” had rooted themselves in my heart. I believed that people should pursue physical pleasures in life and focus on eating, drinking and being merry, and I thought that only that kind of life could bring people happiness and lift them above the humdrum world, and then one’s whole life wouldn’t be spent in vain. Without these things, life felt totally meaningless, and so if I didn’t go out eating, drinking and having fun for a while, my heart began to long for it. Because I was without the truth and I didn’t know what was positive and what was negative, I had therefore become caught up in these evil trends, enjoying sinful pleasures and living a life of uninhibited drinking, degeneracy and decadence. Although my flesh obtained temporary enjoyment, my spirit remained empty and pained, without the correct goals to pursue in life and unaware of the meaning of life. Through the revelations of God’s words, I finally understood that these life axioms belonged to Satan, and that living my life by these ideas and views could only make me lose my direction. If I lived that way, I would regard coveting the pleasures of sin as a positive thing, I would blindly pursue physical pleasures, become more and more debased and I would not have the heart to pursue the truth or follow the right path in life and, ultimately, I would be end up being harmed and devoured by Satan. Thanks be to God for allowing me to see the truth of the matter.
I Find My Direction in Life
I read another passage of God’s words, “When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals of life that people pursue and their various different ways of living, you will find that not one of them fits the Creator’s original intention when He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all pits into which humanity falls, 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, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God.” God’s words showed me the direction to go in life. Since I already understood that pursuing physical pleasures was the path of degeneracy, I knew that I should give it up, choose to follow God and walk the path of pursuing the truth and worshiping God. I then made a resolution to diligently pursue the truth, to shun the evil trends of society and never again to live such a profligate life like I had before.
After some time had passed, the Mid-Autumn Festival was just around the corner, and my friends and relatives called me up and asked me to go out with them. Before, I would have jumped at the chance to go out eating, drinking and having fun with friends and relatives on such a holiday, and I would go all out to indulge myself, believing that would make me so happy. Now, however, I had come to appreciate that, only by pursuing the truth, could I obtain a sense of peace and sureness. If I went out with them, I would only obtain a temporary physical enjoyment and it would cause my heart to shun God, and I would still feel empty afterward. And so, I politely declined and then went to church to read God’s words and fellowship the truth with my brothers and sisters, and I felt a sense of happiness and sureness I’d never felt before.
I thought about how I had previously chosen a wrong path, had become mired in the evil trends of society, had coveted the pleasures of sin, become more and more debased and had lost all semblance of a human being, all for the sake of filling my emptiness. It was God’s mercy that had brought me back into His family. Only after I’d accepted the truths expressed by God did I come to have some discernment of these evil social trends and the life axioms of Satan, I came to know what true happiness was and what was most valuable for us to pursue in our lives, and I found the true direction in life. I offer up to God my heartfelt thanks.