“blessed be the name of Jehovah.” His blessing of God’s name was unconditional, irrespective of context, and without reason.
A Life Without Being Bound by Money
By Zhou Li
Fostering My Ideal
When I was 10 years old, my female cousin tested into college. After graduation, she easily got a stable job, successfully bidding farewell to the life of living by farming and becoming somebody. Every time I saw she returned home gloriously with our villagers’ admiration and praise for her, I, at a young age, hoped to be as well-regarded as she someday by taking her path. However, during junior middle school, I was compelled by illness to drop out. Yet, even so, my desire of becoming outstanding remained the same. Then I, sixteen years old, went to a big city. While working there, I learned how to dress hair, expecting to start my own business after mastering this skill. Yet I was allergic to shampoo, so I had to give up this career. During those years, I worked in several industries, but I didn’t amount to a thing in the end.
Meanwhile, my cousins all bought cars and houses in the city one by one. Especially my female cousin, besides teaching at school, she ran a farm. When my male cousin built the house and got married, she arranged all of it for him. In my eyes, she was indeed the typical example of a successful career woman. I felt both envious and jealous of my cousins, thinking in my heart: “Money really makes a difference. If having money, one can have position and status and then stand tall. I work as hard as they, but why are my earnings much less than theirs? Why is it easy for them to make money while difficult for me? Can it be that I am predestined to live in poverty my whole life? No! I refuse to obey!” Encouraged by the song “Hard work equal win,” I resolved to strive hard while I was still young. I believed that I would be successful someday.
The Bitter Results Brought by My Struggle
Subsequently, I learnt making up so hard for several years. And I became a makeup artist in a large bride photo company. Being called a teacher by my boss, colleagues and customers, I felt much enjoyment and pride, as if I had turned from a “chicken” into a “phoenix.” Every time wearing my uniform with light makeup, and thinking I was a senior teacher in this career, I couldn’t help sighing with satisfaction: I finally bid farewell to the previous days of watching others’ expressions and groveling to others. As my status was raised and my wages were nearly once greater than before, my vanity was preliminarily satisfied. However, the tide of patronage in our firm was very high and our workflow was rather intense. When we made up customers, we needed to assure both quality and speed, otherwise we would be complained by customers or be fined. In such circumstances, every day I felt very nervous in the work. Sometimes, I was so busy that I ate in a terrible hurry. What’s more, being short, I need to stand at work in 10-cm heels every day, with the result that I often felt my legs and feet swollen and my back sore. Due to the great pressure of work, the lack of sleep, and the excessive fatigue, my hyperthyroidism recurred and even became more serious. And then I often lost sleep and was powerless at work with my hands trembling; while out of doors, I could hardly keep my eyes open because of tears flowing. At that time, I really wanted to cast off all the burdens and then find a quiet place to relieve all my stress. But thinking that it was not easy for me to gain such achievements, I decided to keep up to realize my dream no matter how painful or exhausting it was. At that time, besides receiving treatment in the hospital, I bought various of expensive health products for treatment so that I wouldn’t collapse.
One year later, I was assigned to a branch company in another place and became the manager of makeup department, realizing my desires of getting a promotion and a pay raise. Seeing my bank deposits amounted to much so quickly that I was closer and closer to the goal of setting up my own store, I felt great happiness and thought all my efforts were worth it. However, the cruel fact shattered my dream. As my status became higher and my salary was increased, my workload became heavier. I needed to work 12 hours a day, which made me physically and mentally exhausted. Consequently, my condition got worse and worse. I became especially sleepy and sensitive to the cold, and often lay on the bed with no energy. More and more chloasmata and patches on my face made me prematurely old. Besides, frequently seeing doctors and buying health products almost cost a half of my monthly salary. Looking at my withered face in the mirror, I couldn’t restrain from worrying whether the illness could be cured. It was not easy for me to become the department manager after so many years’ hard work. But that time, my body was riddled with illness, and I had to spend money while earning it. Compared to the past, I still owned nothing. With these thoughts I felt very perplexed. Not until one day when I was so sick that I didn’t want to move anymore, I steeled myself and resigned. Thinking that after many years’ struggle I gained nothing but was disease-ridden in the end, I felt uncomfortable inside: Dream is quite different from reality. My illness is just like a bottomless pit. I have no idea how much it will cost, not to mention saving money to open a store or buy a house or a car. At that time, I couldn’t see any hope of life so that I really wanted to commit suicide to end my woes.
Returning Before God
When I was in my most confused and helpless state, in my friend’s home, I happened to see a passage of words in a book, “Mankind, who left the supply of life from the Almighty, does not know why they exist, and yet fears death. There is no support, no help, but mankind is still reluctant to close their eyes, braving it all, drags out an ignoble existence in this world in bodies without the consciousness of souls. You live like such, with no hope; he exists like such, with no aim. There is only the Holy One in the legend who will come to save those who moan in suffering and long desperately for His arrival. This belief cannot be realized so far in the people who are unconscious. However, the people still yearn for it so. … When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time.”
While reading these words, I recalled what I experienced during these years, with tears wetting my eyes. God’s words all touched the bottom of my heart. Indeed, in order to rise above others, all these years I strived hard and struggled in endless pain without reliance or help. Actually, there was an Almighty One who was waiting for my return all the time. God’s heartfelt words made me feel extremely warm inside. Therefore, I gladly accepted God’s kingdom gospel. And I rejoiced that I could come before God. I sincerely thank God!
After believing in God, I often eagerly read God’s words, actively attended meetings, and fellowshiped the truth with my brothers and sisters. Thanks to God’s comforting words, my wandering heart finally found the reliance, and I was much less worried and concerned about the future. Unknowingly, my hyperthyroidism was brought under control and the freckles on my face faded away. So, I looked younger and younger, and I became much more cheerful than before.
One day, I saw in God’s word, “Satan uses a very subtle kind of way, a way very much in concert with people’s notions; it is not any kind of radical way. In the midst of unawareness, people come to accept Satan’s way of living, its rules of living, establishing life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ideals in life. No matter how high-sounding these ideals in life seem, they are just a pretext that is inextricably linked to fame and gain. Any great or famous person, all people in fact, anything they follow in life relates only to these two words: ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Is this not so? (Yes.) People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. Once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them in their pleasure-seeking and unscrupulous enjoyment of the flesh. People willingly, albeit unknowingly, take their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies and hand them all over to Satan in order to attain the fame and gain they desire. People do this without ever a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover it all. Can people still have any control over themselves once they go over to the side of Satan in this way and become loyal to it? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They are also completely and utterly unable to free themselves from the quagmire they have sunk down into.”
God’s words revealed the truth that I was harmed by Satan over these decades. Influenced by Satan’s thoughts and viewpoints such as “getting ahead” and “family prestige,” all along I thought that only by gaining fame and fortune could I be admired by others, and that only living like this was valuable and meaningful. So for decades, I struggled hard for fame and gain both at school and at work, wishing to rise high in society like my female cousin. When I saw others lived better than me, I would be unbalanced inside. Every day, I worried and concerned about the gains and losses of fame and fortune. I carried on pursuing it no matter how painful or tiring it was, and I was reluctant to stop even if I fell sick from overwork. Eventually, not only did I not win fame or fortune, but I became disease-ridden. Now, I was aware that the desire of seeking fame and gain and the ambition of comparing with others were all shackles with which Satan bound me. It made me unable to free myself from the vortex of fame and gain. If God hadn’t stopped me through illness, I would still be charging forward on the path of chasing after fame and fortune, and finally I could only bring myself more unbearable pain. Without God’s salvation, I might have lost the courage to live after losing fame and gain. At that moment, I was clear that fame and fortune was the trap set by Satan for man. Having understood that, I was no longer willing to be confused by Satan, and took my fame and fortune lightly.
Touched by the Passing of Life
One day in 2015, my female cousin’s breast cancer manifested and it had progressed into the advanced stages. When I went to the hospital to visit her, I found that she no longer had arrogance or aggression that she once had. Instead, looked at me with modesty and said meaningfully , “Really, life is full of ups and downs. Now, sister, you are on the upswing.” After I heard her words, her brilliant and glorious past floated up in my mind. Yet now, she lay on the hospital bed and bore the torment of illness alone. The money and reputation she owned couldn’t help her relieve any suffering. What I couldn’t understand was that although so sick she was, she still set up supplementary courses at her home to earn money during the period of her chemotherapy. However, money and fame didn’t save her life, and she passed away several months later. Her death had a great impact on me: When she hung between life and death, being healthy should be the most important thing to her, but what occupied her heart still was how to make more money, and it remained to the last minute of her life. That reminded me of the Lord Jesus’ words, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). That’s true. Life is priceless. Without life, everything is in vain.
Many people who were as successful as my female cousin or even more successful than her, died of illness. The actress—Chen XX, known as a classical beauty, also a rich business woman, left the world around age forty. The chairman of a famous group—Wang XX, praised as the youngest business mogul, possessed assets of several million yuan. He died of intestinal cancer in his thirties because of too many social duties and overwork. My female cousin and these stars and famous persons all possessed much wealth and had fame and gain, living with dignity the whole life, yet they passed away in their prime. Thinking of this, I couldn’t help reflecting: In the face of illness and death, for us human, what’s the significance of possessing fame and fortune? What if we rise high above others and bring honor to our ancestors? Can these things save our lives? And can they help us overcome obstacles? The answer is no. In front of illness and death, fame and fortune are feeble and worthless forever.
God says, “when one has property, one thinks that money is one’s mainstay, that it is one’s asset in life; when people have status, they cling tightly to it and would risk their lives for its sake. Only when people are about to let go of this world do they realize that the things they spent their lives pursuing are nothing but fleeting clouds, none of which they can hold onto, none of which they can take with them, none of which can exempt them from death, none of which can provide company or consolation to a lonely soul on its way back; and least of all, none of which can give a person salvation, allow them to transcend death.” God’s words exposed the void and anguish of our seeking fame and gain. The fame and fortune we spend our whole life seeking can only bring us temporary material enjoyment and comfort. We didn’t bring them with us when we were born and we can’t take them with us after we die. They can’t fill the emptiness of our hearts at all, much less be exchanged for our lives. If we humans can’t come before God to accept the nourishment and provision of God’s words, we won’t be able to shake off the shackles and binds of fame and fortune. Eventually, we can only be swallowed by Satan.
Viewing Life From a Totally New Perspective
God’s words say, “Only if one knows God and has the truth does he live in the light; and only when his view of the world and his view of life change does he change fundamentally. When he has a life goal and comports himself according to the truth; when he absolutely submits to God and lives by God’s word; when he feels assured and brightened deep in his soul; when his heart is free of darkness; and when he lives completely freely and unrestrained in God’s presence—only then does he live a true human life and become a person possessing truth. Besides, all the truths you have are from God’s word and from God Himself. The Ruler of the entire universe and all things—God Most High—approves of you, as a real man living the true human life. What could be more meaningful than this? Such is a person who has the truth.”
From God’s words, I became aware that only when we become persons who know God, and gain the Creator’s approval by pursuing the truth, can we live a meaningful life. At this time, I felt happy and honored for believing in and following God. Due to God’s grace, my illness was cured. Most importantly, I found the correct life goal under the guidance of God’s words. I no longer admired or worshiped those who had wealth, position and status, and no longer weighed the value of life based on the gains and losses of fame and fortune. Instead, I learned to view my life according to God’s words. I was harmed by Satan in every possible way in the past, but finally I believed in God. That was really a blessing in disguise. After believing in God, not rich as was my family, I felt no longer worried and pained as before. Though I didn’t have many savings, I had no debt. Even if I led an ordinary material life, God bestowed me a healthy body and let go of my previous worry, and my spirit was released and free. That couldn’t be bought by money. Besides, I didn’t obtain fame and fortune, yet I had God as my reliance and had the provision of the truth that guided me to pursue dispositional change and to attain life. All this was God’s greatest blessing for me, so I was already quite rich. From now on, I am willing to pursue the truth according to God’s word and live out a meaningful life to gain God’s approval.
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