I strived to be one of the strong ones.
Everyone hopes to become one of the strongest in their group, and I was not an exception. Once when I was at school, I was not in the top five in an exam, and I felt so sad. After that, I was more diligent in my studies, and was determined to come first in the next examination. Whenever I heard the villagers compliment me in front of my parents about my success at school and the glory I gained for my parents, I felt very proud and glorious. So I studied even harder.
After stepping out into the world, I started to pay more attention to my own image and always strove to do my best at work. At that time, I was working in a food products factory. In order not to fall behind, I secretly committed myself to trying even harder and surpassing the others. After a period of hard work, I achieved good results in my work: both in the quality and quantity of products. I surpassed all my colleagues. I also gained my manager’s recognition, and he often took my products as samples and told my colleagues to learn from me. Sometimes when county officials came to inspect our factory, my manager would also arrange for me to sit in the first row. Because I was appreciated and recognized by my manager, my vanity was greatly satisfied. But the vanity was temporary, and I had to pay a great price for it. During Chinese New Year and other holidays, the manager require us to work overtime, and then our working hours were 5 or 6 hours longer than usual. Most of my colleagues got utterly exhausted and asked for leave. However, in order to maintain my performance and not fall behind, I insisted on working every day as if I were a robot. Due to the long days, I often didn’t get much sleep and I was so tired that I always had a sore back. Sometimes, when I was utterly exhausted, I would think: “I work so hard just to do well and get praise from others. But when I actually obtain my manager’s and colleagues’ admiration and praise, and earn more money than others, I’m not as happy as I thought I would be. Instead, I feel weary in body and mind. Why do I do this?”
I suddenly got nephritis, which made me feel sad and despairing.
One morning, I suddenly found that my eyes were a bit puffy. At that time, I thought it was caused by working overtime and staying up late, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But later my hands and feet also began to swell, and I felt weak throughout my body and even got breathless when I climbed the stairs. I thought: “Do I have an illness? Should I ask for leave to see a doctor?” But then I also thought: “I’m young and usually feel well, so it’s probably not serious. What’s more, if I ask for leave just because of a minor illness, won’t it affect my work? If it causes my performance to fall behind the others’, what will my manager and colleagues think of me?” When I thought of this, I decided not to go to the hospital.
Another two days later and I really couldn’t hold on. Only then did I ask for leave to go to the hospital. After doing some tests, the doctor said, “You have nephritis. You should be hospitalized at once. Otherwise, your illness will get more and more serious and the outcome will be terrible for you.” I had no choice but to stop my busy schedule. After half a month in the hospital, my condition didn’t improve. Then I was transferred to a provincial hospital and was treated there for a period of time. Unexpectedly, I got no better but grew worse. The liquid waste in my body couldn’t be drained away and I swelled up all over. I felt awful, as if the water inside me was ready to burst out of my skin. To deaden the ache and manage the illness, the doctor gave me hormone pills to take. However, after a period of time, the side effects from the hormone medicine drove me to near insanity: Sometimes when I got dressed, I put on an outer waistcoat under my thermal underwear. Seeing this, my mother looked worried and even my father, who was always strong, also secretly shed tears several times. Looking at my old parents and the bottles of medicine on the bedside table, I fell into a state of desperation. I continuously asked myself, “I’m just in my twenties. How can I have this type of illness? Have I worked hard and given my best just for such a result?”
Thecrossed my path and kindled the light of hope.
Just when I was in tremendous suffering and didn’t have any hope in life, my mother preached God’s gospel of the last days to me. She told me to pray to God more and rely on Him, for He is our only rock. I, who was so miserable and helpless, felt as though I’d been thrown a lifeline, so I called out again and again to the Almighty God my mother believed in to save me. Miraculously, after those prayers I didn’t feel so much pain and nor did I feel that hopeless. The pain in my body was also alleviated. Afterward, when I was convalescing at home, whenever I was free I would read God’s words and pray to Him, hoping to get better soon. But after a period of time, my illness returned. The doctor said that this kind of illness was the most refractory and hence the most difficult to treat; every time it returned, it was very dangerous and might even endanger my life. Whenever I thought that I would be like this all my life and that I could lose my life at any time, the tears flowed down my cheeks unceasingly. My mother stayed by my side and comforted me by saying, “Don’t worry. We have God. We should rely on Him.” Her words reminded me to pray to God, “O God! Whether my illness can be cured or not, I will commit it to You. My life and death are in Your hands. Please protect me and remove the timidity from my heart so that I can obey You….” After praying, I recalled Job’s experience, which my mother had told me about. One day, Job’s body became covered with sores. He was miserable and weak, but he didn’t deny God. Instead, he still maintained his faith in and his obedience to God. Finally he gained God’s approval and God doubly blessed him. Pondering Job’s experience, I gained confidence. I was determined to obey God’s arrangement and entrust my illness to His hands instead of complaining. After I came back home from the hospital, I attended meetings and prayed as usual. A month later, when I went to the hospital for re-examinations, I was very surprised to find out that the results actually showed that everything was normal. Though the doctor said I still needed to take hormone pills to manage my illness, this experience allowed me to have some understanding of God’s almightiness. I kept thanking God in my heart.
Under the guidance of God’s words, my soul awakened.
One day, I read God’s word saying, “In truth, out of the myriad things in God’s creation, man is the lowest. Though he is the master of all things, man is the only one among them that is subject to Satan’s trickery, the only one that falls prey in endless ways to its corruption. Man has never had sovereignty over himself. Most people live in the foul place of Satan, and suffer its derision; it teases them this way and that till they are half alive, enduring every vicissitude, every hardship in the human world. After toying with them, Satan puts an end to their destiny. And so people go through their whole lives in a daze of confusion, never once enjoying the good things that God has prepared for them, but instead being damaged by Satan and left in tatters.” “The heart of man is constantly possessed by demons and so he cannot act for the sake of God. Rather, he constantly journeys to and fro for the flesh, and profits nothing in the end. It is for these reasons that man has constant troubles and afflictions. Are these not the torments of Satan? Is this not corruption of the flesh? … What can you gain by living for the sake of your flesh and toiling for fame and fortune?”
From God’s words, I understood that God has proper arrangements for the fate of each of us in life. But after we are corrupted by Satan, we’re not willing to obey God’s sovereignty and predestination. On the contrary, we live by the life principles Satan has instilled in us and try with all our might to get fame and gain. But in the end, either we are riddled with disease or we live in emptiness and helplessness. Finally, we are tormented by Satan to such a state that we will end our own lives. I reflected on my own life and realized that because I was fooled by these rules for survival, such as ‘As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,’ and ‘A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,’ I did my best to get others to think highly of and praise me. So I often worked overtime and worked hard. Moreover, I was willing to do so no matter how painful or exhausting it was. Even when I felt discomfort, I still forced myself to continue working. Afterward, by my own efforts, I obtained their high regard and praise, and so temporarily satisfied my cravings of the flesh. But what I gained was so hollow in the face of my illness. Having many people look highly upon and praise me couldn’t reduce my mental anguish at all, much less save my life. On the contrary, when I was harmed by Satan to the point that I lost hope in life and came to a dead end, it was God that allowed me to learn to rely on and look up to Him in the face of illness and gave me the hope to go on living by letting my mother and the brothers and sisters of our church communicate His words to me again and again. Thinking of God’s love and salvation for me I felt greatly relieved, and only then did I realize what is the most worthy pursuit. In the days that followed, I read God’s words and prayed to God every day, begging Him to protect me from the tyranny of my illness.
The side effects of the hormone pills were so strong that my entire body shape changed: My body kept getting fat; my face became bigger; shaggy hairs sprouted from my temples; and I sprouted a beard. When I walked, my legs were weak and ached painfully, as if needles were stabbing them. I was afraid, and thought: “If I continue taking the hormone medicine, maybe it will result in injury to my legs or perhaps my legs will be paralyzed.” Thinking of this, I decided to rely on God and gradually lowered my drug dose. In the end I stopped taking the hormone medicine. Thanks to God’s protection, my illness didn’t get more serious owing to stopping the hormone medicine. Instead, all the symptoms that I had due to taking the hormone pills disappeared. My entire person felt refreshed and my body gradually got back to normal.
One day, I met a friend on the street. He looked at me in surprise, and said: “You know, Xiaoting had the same illness as you and it wasn’t as serious as yours. Unfortunately, she’s passed away while you’ve miraculously recovered from your illness. You’re so lucky!” Hearing this, the feeling of gratitude toward God in my heart arose of itself. I knew it was not luck, but God’s love and protection that saved me. If it hadn’t been for God’s salvation, according to the diagnosis I shouldn’t have lived to the present. At that time, I felt even more that life was indeed precious, and also felt that only pursuing the truth and pursuing to know God had value and meaning.
I made a resolution to become a new person.
Later, I saw God’s words say, “When one looks back upon the road one has walked, when one recollects every phase of one’s journey, one sees that at every step, whether one’s road was arduous or smooth, God was guiding one’s path, planning it out. It was God’s meticulous arrangements, His careful planning, that led one, unknowingly, to today. To be able to accept the Creator’s sovereignty, to receive His salvation—what great fortune that is! … If one’s attitude toward God’s sovereignty over human fate is active, then when one looks back upon one’s journey, when one truly comes to grips with God’s sovereignty, one will more earnestly desire to submit to everything that God has arranged, will have more of the determination and confidence to let God orchestrate one’s fate, to stop rebelling against God. For one sees that when one does not comprehend fate, when one does not understand God’s sovereignty, when one gropes forward willfully, staggering and tottering, through the fog, the journey is too difficult, too heartbreaking. So when people recognize God’s sovereignty over human fate, the smart ones choose to know it and accept it, to bid farewell to the painful days when they tried to build a good life with their own two hands, instead of continuing to struggle against fate and pursue their so-called life goals in their own manner. … Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life, will one gradually break free from all heartbreak and suffering, shake off all the emptiness of life.”
I often remember the bumpy road I travelled in order to obtain others’ high regard and praise. I used up all my energy and paid a high price, but thought I would live happily that way. But unexpectedly, I was burdened by illness. When I was in pain and despair, it was God’s words that led and guided me to realize: I had been pursuing fame and gain and living by satanic laws of survival such as, “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies.” But what it brought me was only endless pain and sadness. I understood that all these things were Satan making me suffer and that pursuing these things was of no benefit to me. So now I am unwilling to fight against my destiny or seek fame and gain. I wish only to pursue the truth and to pursue to know God, and only this is the happiest and the most meaningful thing.
Now, I do my best to fulfill my duties in the church. I attend meetings, communicate, and share my experiences and understanding with my brothers and sisters. Every day I live peacefully and happily. All the glory be to God!