Standing Fast in the Wind

Standing Fast in the Wind

Zhang Li

In 1996, I believed in the Lord Jesus because of illness. Afterward I was healed of my illness unknowingly, so I had greater faith. In order to repay the Lord’s love, I preached the gospel actively. When the leaders of the church saw that I was zealous in my pursuit, they asked me to lead a small group.

Later, two sisters who preached God’s kingdom gospel came to my house and said to me, “Our Lord has come back and carried out His new work.” After their explicit fellowship about God’s work of the last days, I accepted it.

Hardly had I seen the two sisters off when the two leaders of my former church came. At the sight of me, they looked me up and down, as if trying to spot some problem in me. Then one of them asked me, “Sister Zhang, how are things with you these days? You haven’t contacted any stranger, right?” I said, “My situation is good. I’ve listened to the fellowship of two sisters from the Church of Almighty God, and I’ve received much supply in my spirit. Through reading the words of Almighty God, I am convinced that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. Since you come today, let us seek together!” When hearing that I had contacted the sisters who believed in Almighty God, they got angry, saying, “Haven’t we told you not to listen to their fellowship or read their book? Why did you contact them? You have betrayed the Lord. Whoever betrays the Lord will come to no good end!” Their words left me dumbfounded for about half a minute. I offered a cup of water to each of them, and they said with a stern face, “Our mouth is not thirsty; we are thirsty in the spirit. You repent to the Lord quickly!” I said, “I haven’t betrayed the Lord; I have kept up with the new work of the Lord. Since we are thirsty in the spirit, we should look for the wellspring of living water.” At my words, they flew into a rage and threatened me, “You turn a deaf ear to our admonition and insist on departing from the way of the Lord. If you stubbornly refuse to repent like this, you will forfeit the Lord’s protection. Your departure from the Lord will incur calamities! We have told you the serious consequence today. If you still don’t repent to the Lord, you will regret it!” With this, they left in a huff.

Their interference made me very upset, and my heart began to churn: The fellowship of the two sisters who preach the kingdom gospel is so edifying. I feel it is from God. But why do the leaders say that belief in Almighty God means departure from the Lord? They also say that departure from the Lord will incur calamities. They both have believed in the Lord for years; their words may not be wrong. Could it be that the words of the two sisters are not true? Have I really betrayed the Lord? But if I follow the leaders in belief in the Lord, I really cannot receive the provision of life from their interpretation of the Bible….” There was a fierce seesaw battle in my heart. In the few days that followed, I was on pins and needles like one out of his wits. So I had to pray to God time and again, “O Lord, is Almighty God really Your return? What shall I do? O Lord! Which path should I take in the future? May You give me discernment….”

A few days later, our three large, fat pigs suddenly died one after another. I felt very painful and distressed, “I am a believer in God, but why have I suffered such misfortune?” I could not help remembering the words of my former leaders, “Your departure from the Lord will incur calamities….” And I got flustered immediately, “Could it be that I have really betrayed the Lord by believing in Almighty God? Is this punishment from the Lord?” I was thrown into confusion and robbed of all peace.

One day, the two sisters of the Church of Almighty God came to visit me again. Noticing that I looked awful, they asked me with concern, “Sister Zhang, you don’t look well; how are you?” I said with a straight face, “Please go now! Don’t come to see me again. I will still follow the Lord. I cannot betray Him.” They said anxiously, “Sister Zhang, if you have encountered any difficulty in belief in God or have any question about it, just tell us. We can fellowship about it together.” I said, “It is nothing to do with you. The Lord has bestowed so much grace upon me. If I follow Almighty God, it means that I am a betrayer of the Lord. I cannot sin against the Lord.” Seeing that I was in a bad state, the two sisters said to me patiently, “Almighty God and the Lord Jesus are one God. You haven’t betrayed the Lord, but rather you have followed God’s footsteps….” But no matter what they said, I gave a cold shoulder to them and just did the housework. Then I heard them talk in a low voice, “Let’s pray to God together. May God move the sister’s heart. We continue to cooperate.” At their words, I felt very uneasy. But when I thought of the misfortune that my family had met with, I didn’t dare to contact them anymore. No matter what they said, I wouldn’t listen. They could do nothing but leave. For fear that they would come to visit me again, I went to another place to work.

However, after I worked for about over ten days, I suffered a relapse of my illness. I had a burning, hot feeling in my chest and couldn’t eat anything or fall asleep, and I also had a severe headache. As I couldn’t work anymore, I had to go home. When reaching home, I was startled to see my two sons, and I asked them, “Why didn’t you go to school? Were you back from school?” They said in dejection, “We both were found to have hepatitis B at school. Our teachers told us to come back home to see the doctor and stop going to school for a time.” That was like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky to me. “What? My sons got hepatitis B? Why didn’t I know that? When did they get it?” At the moment, I felt dizzy, and my heart was in agony. I thought, “Recently, I heard the fellowship of the sisters who preach the kingdom gospel, but our leaders said that I had betrayed the Lord and that would incur calamities. So I didn’t dare to contact the sisters anymore. In order to avoid them, I went out to work, but I had a relapse of my illness. Today my sons were sent back home by the school because of severe illness. Have all these happened because of my betrayal of the Lord? But I have already made a clean break with the people of the Church of Almighty God. Why have I still met with calamities one after another? Why have I felt horribly painful and distressed since I drove away the sisters who preach Almighty God’s kingdom gospel?” Perplexed and helpless, I prayed to the Lord, “O Lord! Is Almighty God really You? O Lord! I don’t want to betray the true God. If Almighty God is really You who have returned in the last days, may You move the two sisters to come again. If Almighty God is not You, may You stop them from coming. Now my heart is in a turmoil, and I don’t know what to do….”

On the next day, the two sisters really came. At the sight of them, I was very surprised and moved, almost bursting into tears. I excitedly prayed to the Lord in my heart, “O Lord! You have heard my prayer and moved the sisters to come to see me. Thank You very much!” With solicitude, the sisters asked me about my recent state. I told them what had happened to my family lately and my thoughts. One of them said with a smile, “Sister Zhang, Almighty God is exactly the returned Lord Jesus. That you have accepted the gospel of Almighty God means that you have kept up with God’s new work. In fact, the reason your family has suffered such calamities is not that you have betrayed the Lord, but that Satan has been disturbing you. When Satan saw you keep up with God’s new work, it didn’t want you to receive God’s salvation, so it tried every possible means to interfere with you. You will understand this after we read these two passages of God’s words: ‘In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men, and the interference of men. Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle’ (‘Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

What work comes from Satan? In the work that comes from Satan, the visions in people are vague and abstract, and they are without normal humanity, the motivations behind their actions are wrong, and although they wish to love God, there are always accusations within them, and these accusations and thoughts are always interfering within them, constraining the growth of their life, and stopping them from having normal circumstances before God. … The work of evil spirits wrecks the normal relationship between man and God, and upsets people’s previous visions and the path that their life has entered upon, in their hearts they can never draw close to God, things always happen that cause disruption to them and enshackle them, and their hearts cannot find peace, leaving no strength to their love of God, and making their spirits sink downward. Such are the manifestations of the work of Satan. The work of Satan is manifested in the following: being unable to stand your ground and stand witness, causing you to become someone who is at fault before God, and who has no faithfulness toward God. At the interference from Satan, you lose the love and loyalty toward God within you, you are stripped of a normal relationship with God, you do not pursue the truth, or the improvement of yourself, you regress, and become passive, you accommodate yourself, you give free rein to the spread of sin, and are not hateful of sin; furthermore, the interference of Satan makes you dissolute, it causes God’s touch to disappear within you, and makes you complain about God and oppose Him, leading you to question God, and there is even the risk of you leaving God. All this is of the work of Satan’ (‘The Work of the Holy Spirit and the Work of Satan’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”

After reading God’s words, the sister fellowshiped, “In fact, today you are experiencing a spiritual battle. No matter whether it is the interference of the leaders of your former church, the death of your pigs, the illness of your sons, or the relapse of your illness, behind it all is Satan’s interference and affliction. The work that comes from Satan can cause you to lose the knowledge of God within you and have an ever more distant relationship with God, and it can even cause you to doubt God and thus stray far from God and betray God. Satan’s purpose in interfering with you by these means is for you to lose God’s salvation of the last days and forever live under its domain and be controlled by it.

On the other hand, behind these things is Satan’s wager with God. It is a test to see whether you pursue the truth and life or the material grace and blessings in your belief in God. This is just as when the calamities befell Job’s family; outwardly, Job’s property was taken away by robbers, but in fact, it was Satan’s wager with God in the spiritual realm. Satan said that Job worshiped God because God had bestowed upon him so many blessings, so God allowed Satan to tempt Job. Therefore various calamities came upon Job. Job lost his property and children, but he stood firm in his testimony to God. Later, God blessed him doubly. He had another ten children and more property, and his life was prolonged. Likewise, today when all these things have come upon you, both God and Satan are watching whether or not you can stand fast.

On the third hand, through these things God wants you to know whether your view about belief in God is correct. Let us read a passage of God’s word: ‘True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God. … Today, there are still those who believe in God in letters, in hollow doctrines. They are unaware that their belief in God has no substance, and that they are unable to gain the approval of God, and they still pray for peace and sufficient grace from God. We should stop and ask ourselves: Could believing in God really be the easiest thing on earth? Does believing in God mean nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Can people who believe in God but do not know Him, and believe in God yet oppose Him, really fulfill the desire of God?’ (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).”

After reading these words of God, the sister continued to fellowship, “God’s words have disclosed people’s wrong views about belief in God. These untoward things happening to you in this period can help you recognize that the purpose of your belief in God is to receive grace and peace, that is, when having a peaceful family life, you have faith in God, but when meeting with untoward things, you deny God, and that it is not to experience God’s work so as to obey God, know God, and worship God. This truly shows that we have been corrupted by Satan so much that we no longer have human likeness—we believe in God yet do a deal and strike bargains with God in all respects. Only God’s words can bring man the truth and life, while the abundant material grace can only bring man temporary enjoyment but cannot bring man eternal life. We have to experience God’s work so that we are freed of our corrupt disposition, can truly obey and satisfy God, and have the true knowledge of God. Only then can we receive God’s approval.”

Having heard the fellowship of the sister, I felt brightened in my heart: It turns out that the reason why I have met with so many untoward things is not that I betrayed the Lord, but rather, they came from Satan’s affliction and interference. Satan tried to deceive me with the words of my former leaders, and it also caused so many untoward things to happen to me. Its purpose was to hinder me from coming before God and keeping up with God’s new work. When God wants to save someone, Satan will tail God from behind, trying to interfere with him. Satan is so wicked! I also came to know that I had believed in the Lord just to receive peace and blessings, and so Satan used my wrong view about belief in God to interfere with me in order that I would stray far from the true God and forsake Him and lose His salvation of the last days. Through these experiences I realized that Satan afflicts man, and only God saves man. Then I made up my mind: I will read the words of Almighty God seriously, and will no longer be deceived by my former leaders or be affected by Satan’s interference and affliction; I will treasure the hard-obtained salvation of the last days and pursue to be a true believer in God.

Afterward, I prayed to God that I would commit everything to Him and never again leave Him regardless of what interference I encountered. Not long after, I was healed of my illness unconsciously, and my sons were also healed without receiving medical treatment, and they went back to school. This made me see God’s deeds. It was really God’s love. Through this spiritual battle, I became more certain about the true way and firmly believed that Almighty God is the only true God, the Giver of the truth and life!

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