Why We Exist
Desperation or Destiny
When we stop living a life of desperation, we begin to glorify God — and we can joyfully use the talents He gave us for His purpose.
Have you ever felt that pang when you want something, but the thing itself doesn’t fulfill you? I believe that desperation isn’t where we’re destined to live. God wants us to live full and joyful lives. I also think he’s given us the tools to do just that.
As we search for the difference between the hollow life Hollywood promotes and the joyful life He offers, we begin to evaluate the difference between desperation and destiny.
Desperation vs. Destiny
Desperation is a strong word. Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden was published in 1857. It was required reading when I was in high school. He wrote it from his house on Walden Pond, and he lived a solitary life for two years and two months.
Thoreau's quote, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” observed that most people live an empty life caused by unfulfilling work, lack of leisure time, and misplaced values; money, possessions, and accolades.
Thoreau claimed the importance we attach to possessions, money, and status is wrong. This sounds like some of the people I run into around town. Don’t let it happen to you!
You get to choose what you embrace!
I think of what the Apostle Paul wrote when I ponder my destiny.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
2 Primary Reasons We Exist
I believe we exist for two primary reasons. When I lay them out, I hope you will agree that, at the very least, they are easy to understand.
1. Man’s Chief End is Glorifying God & Enjoying Him Forever
What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is the first question from the Westminister Shorter Catechism.
We don’t have to perform for God. No one is good enough to do this. God sent Jesus into the world to provide the way to build a relationship with God throughout our life here on earth and for all eternity. God is Love, Light, and Spirit. Our joy is in experiencing Him and living by His grace.
2. Use Your Spiritual Gifts & Natural Talents to Carry Out His Calling
We are also to carry out the purpose of God by using our Spiritual Gifts and natural talents to carry out His calling on our lives.
We use our gifts and talents on this earth to serve our fellow humans and enhance and preserve the world He gave us to enjoy. There is no obligation to pay God back.
It is a natural reaction of those captivated by His love to express our love for him by caring for the people and the world He created. This service means all work done on earth by people of character is to be respected. And we are made to be peacemakers.
You get to choose!
More on Henry David Thoreau’s Impact
Elizabeth Witherell dives into Thoreau’s thinking, as well, in her work Reflections on Walden, written with Elizabeth Dubrulle. She shares this quote from Walden.
When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months.
Witherell and Dubrelle expertly flesh out the above quote from Walden, saying:
With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond. Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers. Although Walden enjoyed only moderate success in Thoreau's lifetime, his experiment at the pond would spark considerable interest in the years to come. The book has inspired other young people to follow his example and retire to a lonely spot--even if only in imagination--to ponder the world and their place in it. Thoreau's words expressed the concerns of many of his contemporaries as industrialization and war permanently altered the world around them, just as they struck a chord in a generation of young people in the 1960s and 1970s who opposed the modern military-industrial complex and sought peace and simplicity in their lives. For many, Walden has served as a touchstone.
Take a quiet moment to let yourself ponder: Are you struggling with desperation, or are you pursuing God’s love and purpose?
Don’t be discouraged if you feel it's the former. Maybe it means you need to find time to be still.
Being still is often how God steadies us, readies us, and returns us to Himself, especially in times of uncertainty and crisis. Stillness before God is necessary for trusting in God, especially when the challenges of life begin to mount, and we need to hear from God.
Jesus is always waiting, ready to be there for all of us.