By Ma Hui, Germany
Once I heard a story, which went like this: Several social elites came to an old professor, complaining their jobs and life were very stressful. Then, the professor served them with a pot of coffee and a variety of cups. Each of them chose an expensive and beautiful cup, and none chose those ordinary and cheap ones. Based on this, the professor taught them a lesson: In fact, the cup cannot change the quality of coffee, yet everyone chooses a valuable cup; that is the source of stress. He also told them, “Life is like coffee. Work, money, fame and status is just like the cup. Those who live a happy life enjoy coffee, but not cup.”
This story made me fall into a deep meditation: Is each one of us in real life not like one of those elites? We always complain that we are less well off than others, and in order to live a better life, we are struggling and striving hard. For example, my father lives a very tiring life: He always sweats his guts out like a money-making machine and, during spring festival period, he even spends the several leisure days planning how to earn money in the next year. One of my relatives was clearly aware that working as a paint sprayer in the leather shoe factory for a long time would endanger her life, yet to make more money she still kept working there. As a result, it was in less than two years that she got cancer and died young, leaving a 4-year-old son motherless. A son of my neighbor Auntie Li had always been studying very diligently in the hope of getting into college to bring honor to his ancestors. Unexpectedly, his dream was shattered and such an unbearable blow even made him, a normal young man, mad. I was once the same as them: After getting married, I had a happy and warm home. Yet simply because I competed with my relatives and friends in wealth, I often complained to my husband that he couldn’t make much money and thus often quarreled with him, leaving our home without any warmth. Actually, each of us wishes to live a happy life, but why are there so many tragedies going on in our life?
God’s words say: “What does Satan use to keep man penned in and controlled? (Fame and gain.) So Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts until all they can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision to both maintain and obtain fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people’s bodies, and they have not the strength nor courage to throw them off. So people trudge ever onward in great difficulty, unknowingly bearing these shackles. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind becomes estranged from God and betrays Him. With each passing generation, mankind becomes more and more wicked, more and more darkened, and so in this way one generation after another is destroyed in the fame and gain of Satan.”
From God’s words, I finally understood why people live with so much pain and why such a life lasts from one generation to the next without any change. The root cause is that Satan teaches us the viewpoints of seeking fame and gain, such as: “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” “Money is first,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing.” Deceived and constrained by these satanic viewpoints, we yearn to live towering above others, and think that without rich material life, we would be belittled and despised by others, living fecklessly. So, we struggle for money, toil and rush about only to live a better life and win the admiration of others. In retrospect, my relative worked hard to make money at the cost of her health. She indeed made some money, but lost her life in the end. As for me, in order to be looked up to by others, I competed with my friends and so I always complained about my husband’s incapability and quarreled with him. Are these tragedies and miseries not caused by the satanic evil outlook on life?
Just like those elites of the story, they had scored great achievements and had been successful in the eyes of many people, but they were still not content. We could carefully consider such a question: Is a person who has a high social position, a good reputation and great wealth really happy? In the world, some people have high positions in government and successful careers and possess wealth and authority, looking illustrious, but they don’t live happily because they always exert themselves to calculate and fight for their own fame and gain. To relieve pressure, some of them do drugs, go to KTVs, take ecstasy, or they even indulge in their lusts to numb themselves; some of them suffer from depression, being moody all day long, and eventually choose to kill themselves. Outwardly, they are rich, powerful and valued by others, but what have they gotten in the end? It’s just pain and emptiness rather than happiness. These tragedies are undoubtedly wake-up calls for us.
God says: “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could keep on living, could exempt themselves from death. But only when they are close to dying do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person is, no matter how lofty his or her position is, all people are equally poor and inconsequential in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second.” From God’s words we can see: No matter how much more money or how high status we have, they can help nothing when we face death. We ever heard that: Fu Biao was rich, and he had the liver transplant twice but still died in the end; Wang Junyao, who was possessed of 3.5 billion yuan, couldn’t buy an inch of healthy intestine; and there are also some other celebrities and entrepreneurs who suffered from cancers and died early. Such examples are too many. Facing the fact, we can see that money and status are just like a gorgeous coat: when we put it on, it seems to raise our self-worth and satisfy our vanity for a while; but yet, when faced with death we will realize that money and fame that we have sought all our life is simply void, they can’t be exchanged for our health nor save our life. How worthless!
At this moment, I recalled the story of Job. God says: “Job’s status and standing were much prized. … he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. … Though affluent, and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings because of his wealth, much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, and was not greedy or hedonistic, nor did he fixate upon quality of life, as a result of God’s blessings to him. Instead, he was humble and modest, and cautious and careful before God, he often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God.”
Job was possessed of high status and great wealth, and he could be called a remarkably famous and rich man if he lived today. But his requirement of the quality of life was very low. He didn’t pursue a luxurious life, much less forget to worship God because of his wealth. He feared God and shunned evil, so he often offered burnt offerings and when his sons and daughters feasted, he didn’t join them nor took the feast as a pleasure. When he lost fame, status, and great fortune, he didn’t make complaints, nor tried hard to seize them back, but submit to God’s sovereignty, walking the God-fearing, evil-shunning way. And finally he gained the blessings and approval of Jehovah God.
From Job’s experience, I received great inspiration: He was disciplined in his lifestyle, and instead of being greedy and pursuing a luxurious life, he focused on seeking truth, being a person who feared God and shunned evil. And eventually he lived out a meaningful life. We should imitate Job to walk the way of fearing God and shunning evil and seek a truly happy and meaningful life. Only this is the choice of a wise person.
Pursuing money and fame only makes us more miserable and confused; this is a tragic life. Only by accepting and submitting to the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangements can we stop repeating the tragedies of those who came before us and gain a happy and cheerful life.