By Elizabeth Prata
Imagine having everything. You have earned a law degree and a Master’s in Business, and are a success at it. You’ve earned many National Championships from various events. You’re beautiful, and won the Miss USA Pageant. You have been nominated twice for a Daytime Emmy Award for your broadcasting work on the television news/entertainment show Extra. You’re known as an activist for all the right causes, generously donating your time and money to them. You are beloved by family and fans alike. You have become a success in every arena in which you’ve attempted. You’ve done all this before the age of 30.
Yet, all this leaves you empty.
All this leaves you looking at the milestone birthday with skepticism, depression, and a haunting sense of pointlessness.
The New York Post broke the story. Woman who jumped from NYC high-rise identified as Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst
Writing for Allure in March 2021, Magazine, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst said,
“Why earn more achievements just to collect another win? Why pursue another plaque or medal or line item on my resume if it’s for vanity’s sake, rather than out of passion? Why work so hard to capture the dreams I’ve been taught by society to want when I continue to only find emptiness? …Allure
Sadly it seems that Miss Kryst could not satisfactorily answer her questions in a way that filled her with hope, but instead only led to more emptiness and despair.
“Meanwhile, I was rewarded with a lonely craving for the next award…“
The plaintive cry in her article revealed similar sentiments that a famous king also wrote about: Solomon. Ecclesiastes is THE Bible book of man’s default state of hopelessness and vanity.
Solomon wrote how fame is fickle and recognition is fleeting. (Ecclesiastes 4:13-16). One’s fame rarely lasts after you’re gone, people quickly forget who you are or what you did. Miss Kryst felt this. She wanted to use her reign as Miss USA to make a difference. She spoke out on injustice and other meaningful issues, but her fans didn’t want that. They wanted beauty that held middle-of-the-road opinions. They rejected her opinions. Kryst wanted a life of substance. Her fans wanted an illusory life of external adornment.
Miss Kryst sensed the folly of youth and the awfulness of aging unto emptiness. She turned 30 years old recently and that apparently had done her mind in with fear and worry.
“Each time I say, “I’m turning 30,” I cringe a little. … but turning 30 feels like a cold reminder that I’m running out of time to matter in society’s eyes — and it’s infuriating.”Allure
Aging is a dread prospect for us all, but particularly for a woman whose biggest laurels rest on beauty, fashion, and style. Outward appearance brought her to heights, its fleetingness scared her to death. All humans sense the futility of life apart from Christ.
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory is like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
(1 Peter 1:24-25)
Solomon also addressed aging in his monumental book on the vanity of life:
“the time of old age, which is evil, i.e. burdensome and calamitous in itself, and far more grievous and terrible when it is loaded with the sad remembrance of a man’s youthful follies and lusts, and with the dreadful prospect of approaching death and judgment, which makes him see that he cannot live, and yet dare not die“, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12, aging.
Upon what do we rest our achievements? What foundation? Why do we pursue excellence? And why does it leave us empty when we get there? This is the biggest question in life. Why do we do what we do, and for what purpose? Kryst felt this.
“I discovered that the world’s most important question, especially when asked repeatedly and answered frankly, is: why?”
Reading about this young woman brought tears to my eyes. She was so bright, so accomplished, so beautiful. Yet she sensed the futility of a life that honors God not, lived a life that pursued fleeting vanities, only to see them wisp away as she felt compelled to pursue the next one.
What broke my heart further was this despairing plea from an unknown person who read this sad news and replied with her own sense of the hopelessness of the Great Chasm:
What hope do any of us have? Apart from Christ, there is none. There is no hope at all. Sadly, some people discover this early. The weight of futility can only be suppressed for so long, and then? Darkness envelops the aching heart and the worst happens, suicide.
This news sparked articles talking about the need for more mental health conversations. That’s good, but I hope and pray that this news sparks in Christians a renewed understanding of the hopelessness Gentiles feel, and their ultimate need, the Gospel.
So many are lost!
The reality of death apart from Christ further fueled my own quiet aching for all the lost people who dwell apart from Christ, both in this evil world, and in the nether regions undergoing the beginning of their torments. For them, death is not the peace and solace they sought, but only the beginning of a hopeless and punishing eternity.
“Now, I enter year 30 searching for joy and purpose on my own terms — and that feels like my own sweet victory.” ~Cheslie Kryst
O! The woes of the lost who want life on their own terms and not the Great I Am’s. Even those seeking death on their own terms they discover too late, far too late, the tragic mistake of living for themselves and dying on their own terms.
Christian, let this sad situation be a lesson for us, a renewal of the compassion we must feel for those who dwell upon the earth in hopeless despair. In darkness. In futility. Their smile may hide it. Their life may seem perfect. But all humans apart from Christ feel an aching nothingness that lurks, that nibbles and scratches at their conscience, whispering, “what if this is all there is?”
Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36).
Let us show them that there is more, much more! There is Christ, there, in the Light where peace and joy dwells. Where His Gospel infiltrates the wondering heart and brings soothing light to the stinging conscience. Where fulfillment bounds the aching heart to calm and wrest away all doubts of the futility of life. For in Christ, all hope dwells.
“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:21).
The hopelessness of work explored in this essay:
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