Ever since God created Adam and Eve, man has been rejecting God and choosing his own way. Sadly, this is also the attitude of most Christians today.

Why do we think we know more about what is best for us than our Creator? He knows us intimately—He created us. He rules the universe and is sovereign over heaven and earth. He even sacrificed His Son to save us. That’s how much He loves us.

Why, then, is it so hard to serve and love Him? Why is it so hard to trust Him? Why can’t we see that what we gain by living for Christ is far greater than anything we forfeit? Far greater than anything we could selfishly want or achieve on our own.

God created us for His purposes, not our own. We exist to have a relationship with Him and to point others to Him through our love in action. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand and that we should walk them” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV).

We were created and called to do good works wherever we go. But no good work or action can help us obtain salvation. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. It is a gift from God, according to Ephesians 2:8–9. But God does intend for our salvation to result in service. He says our faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

It’s easy to forget that the real reason we exist is for God’s purposes and not our own. The world is full of distractions and temptations that promise pleasures. The allure of those momentary pleasures has led many to do things that have been detrimental to their lives. Esau, for example, sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29–34). The list of ways that we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless. I’ve made plenty of my own.

It’s also hard to remember our purpose when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances. We become hardened by our circumstances, or we spend our time begging God to remove us from the pain instead of looking for ways He can use us in the midst of it.

But when we keep our real purpose in mind, we will begin to see every situation, even the hard ones, as opportunities to serve God and His people. The apostle Paul set a great example of this when he was in prison. In that dark dungeon, he had plenty to complain about, but he didn’t grumble or blame anyone.

Instead, he rejoiced because he knew that his being in prison was for a greater purpose than what he could see. He was on a mission for God, and Paul knew that all things would “work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). He trusted that God had a plan far greater than he could see in the natural.

Like Paul, I have to remember to give thanks to God in every situation, even while I am in prison. I try to remember Proverbs 3:5–6 (NKJV): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

As I’ve trusted God and not wasted my efforts on figuring out my situation, God has directed my footsteps. He’s used me in ways that I could never have been used had I chosen to live in bitterness over what could have been. He has sustained me with His peace and strength, and He has given me countless opportunities to do good works for His glory.

I want to encourage you to look past both earthly pleasures and difficult situations to remember why you exist. It’s for God. It’s to serve and glorify Him through your good works and love for others. Doing those things will bring you joy and contentment, wherever you are. Even in places you don’t want to be. †