Editor’s Note: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). These words of the tell us the consequences of pursuing fame and fortune and the benefits of pursuing life. If we obtain wealth, fame and others’ respect but lose our precious lives, then all this is just meaningless. Only by coming before God and seeking to obtain life can we live out a life that is of the utmost value and significance. In this article, Sister Li Ling managed to live a life of a moneyed individual by starting her own business. She won the favor and envy of others but lost her own health. Lying in her sickbed, she reflected on herself and came to see the truth behind pursuing fame and fortune, after which she found an easy way to live and began to lead a life of meaning. Read Sister Li Ling’s story, reflect on our own pursuits in life, and find the right direction for our future life.
Parents Being Sent to the Countryside, Her Family Became Poor
Li Ling’s father used to be a cadre of the government and her mother a worker. Once her family was quite well-off and all of their relatives, friends and neighbors admired, envied and fawned on them, and many had received help from her parents. Later, the Cultural Revolution began, and Li Ling’s parents were sent to the countryside, which turned their life upside down. The decline of her family subjected them to people’s cold shoulders, and some even sneered at them, saying, “Cadres are now beggars. You’ll never ever rise again.”
Failing to Get Into an Ideal School, She Was Forced to Work Away From Home
Having tasted the coldness of human nature, Li Ling’s mother always taught her since she was small, “You must study hard to stand out from the crowd in the future and bring honor to us. You must not be like us, living such a humble life that everyone despises….” The teachings of her parents as well as the influence of her environment made young Li Ling firmly believe that only by diligently studying could she live a wealthy life that everyone would admire and look up to and win back some dignity for her parents.
After that, Li Ling poured all her energy into studying. At night, she would often study by an oil lamp next to her mother, who was spinning cotton into yarn. After five years of hard work, she got into a prestigious middle school with excellent grades, which earned her praise from her parents and teachers as well as admiration from her classmates and friends. As she continued to strive for her dreams, Li Ling failed to test into her ideal high school. Sad and disappointed, she left school and went out to seek work.
Ending Up in Failure the First Time She Started a Business
Enjoying being admired and looked up to since childhood, Li Ling was not willing to be an underling and live the life of an ordinary worker, so she spent her hard-earned money to buy a set of reference books on livestock farming from Guangzhou and studied hard. She thought: “As the saying goes, ‘There are a million different paths to success.’ If I can carve out a successful career in breeding industry, I will also be able to live an exceptional life.” In order to realize her dream, Li Ling began to take action and soon set up a small chicken farm. From the first batch of chicken she raised, she made her first pot of gold and got a taste of success. She thought: “If things go on like this, it won’t take long before my dream becomes a reality.” But things did not turn out as she hoped. The second batch of chicken she raised, before having been fully grown, died in large numbers from a disease, and she ended up losing all the money she had invested. Seeing this tragic scene devastated Li Ling, leaving her in such extreme pain that she could neither eat nor sleep and didn’t feel like doing anything, and later she got acute gastroenteritis. Tormented both physically and mentally, she barely had the courage to go on living. At that time, her brother came to visit her and comforted her, saying: “As long as we are still alive, there will be the day when we will rise again.”
Living a Wealthy Life but Losing Her Own Health
Her brother’s words “we will rise again” reignited Li Ling’s desire to realize her dream. As soon as her illness got better, she immediately borrowed tens of thousands yuan from her relatives and opened a small factory. After the factory operated for a year, she paid off all her debts and also won the praise of the people around her. In the following years, she kept working desperately hard and made more and more money until she finally lived a wealthy life as she had hoped. She enjoyed the admiration and envy of her relatives, friends and neighbors. Behind the glory, however, was the great price she had paid. Through overwork, she fell victim to various diseases and conditions—periarthritis in her shoulder, uterine fibroids and serious anemia, and once she was in a coma for three days and almost lost her life. Lying in her sickbed, she was filled with a feeling of desolation and couldn’t help but reflect: Why is it that the wealth and fame I’ve gained didn’t bring me happiness or joy but the torment of my illness and in my soul? This thought made Li Ling feel afraid for what she had been pursuing, and she called out in her heart: “I’ve lived an exceptional life, but why do I feel nothing but pain? Is this really the life that I want?”
Searching for the Root of Her Pain
In her bewilderment, Li Ling looked desperately for the answer to her question, and finally, she found it in God’s words. She read in earnest: “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 for fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people, 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 shuns God and betrays Him, and they become more and more wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the fame and gain of Satan.”
“One exhausts a lifetime’s worth of energy fighting against fate, spends all of one’s time bustling about trying to feed one’s family and shuttling back and forth between wealth and status. The things that people treasure are family, money, and fame; they view these as the most valuable things in life. All people complain about their fates, yet still they push to the back of their minds the questions that it is most imperative to examine and understand: why man is alive, how man should live, what the value and meaning of life is. All of their lives, however many years that may be, they just rush about seeking fame and fortune, until their youth has fled, until they become gray and wrinkled; until they see that fame and fortune cannot stop one’s slide toward senility, that money cannot fill the emptiness of the heart; until they understand that no one is exempt from the law of birth, aging, sickness, and death, that no one can escape what fate has in store. Only when they are forced to confront life’s final juncture do they truly grasp that even if one owns millions in property, even if one is privileged and of high rank, no one can escape death, every person will return to his or her original position: a solitary soul, with nothing to its name.”
Carefully pondering God’s words, Li Ling felt as if she were awakening from a dream. God’s words laid bare the source of her pain from pursuing wealth and fame and struggling against fate. It turned out that Satan used such fallacious views like “One should bring honor to his ancestors,” “striving to be better than everyone else,” and “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards” to bind her thoughts, making her take gaining wealth and fame as the goal to pursue in life and think only a life in which one possesses fame and fortune is a life of meaning and value. As a result, she spent half of her life struggling and working tirelessly to obtain fame and gain and live life on the top, living in the pain of fighting against fate. In order to achieve her dream, she studied diligently for years; even though she failed to get into her ideal school, she still refused to give in to fate but invested all her savings in a breeding farm to realize her dream; when her dream came to nothing, the desire to stage a comeback dragged her back into the whirlpool of fame and gain, with the result that she set up a factory. Finally, she obtained wealth and fame, yet she became riddled with disease and ended up bed-ridden and living in unspeakable pain.
At that time, Li Ling thought of her own mother, who died of cancer more than a decade ago. In order that her whole family could live an exceptional life and not be looked down on by others, she worked herself to the bone all year around and refused to rest for even a single day. Later, as her family became well-off, those who used to discriminate against her began to admire and envy her. But what use was it? Neither fame, fortune nor others’ approval could save her life.
Li Ling also thought of a CEO she knew, a multimillionaire who owned several big ceramics factories but who died of cancer at the age of 40. Before he passed away, his wife grasped the doctor’s hands and said, “Please save my husband. I will give you half of my property.” However, the doctor shook his head and said, “I can only treat people; I don’t master their lives.”
This was when Li Ling finally saw that she was actually walking on a wrong path. She had spent half of her life rushing about striving for fame and fortune, which, however, only brought her transient material pleasures. In the face of death, no matter how high one ranks in society, how famous one is, or how much money one has, it cannot save one’s life. She came to know that if she continued down this wrong path, she would be doomed to suffer more pain for fame and fortune and end up being harmed by Satan to death. When she thought of this, Li Ling began to seek how to rid herself of this painful existence.
Submitting to God’s Sovereignty, She Found an Easy Way to Live
Li Ling then saw these words from God: “When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals of life that people pursue and their various different ways of living, you will find that not one of them fits the Creator’s original intention when He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all pits into which humanity falls, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God.”
God’s words showed Li Ling a new direction to go in life, and she realized that she should stop making plans for the pursuit of fame and fortune and entrust her entire life into God’s hands, letting God rule over and arrange it all. This is because man was created by God and man’s fate is controlled by God’s hands. Whether one is poor or rich, ordinary or exceptional in this life is all down to God’s predestination, and it is not something that can be changed by human efforts. Having understoodand His requirements of man, Li Ling felt greatly relieved and she then said a of gratitude to God.
Since then, Li Ling began to practice entrusting everything to God, letting Him take charge and arrange it all for her. She no longer devoted her whole being to business as she used to, but instead handed everything off to others, except the things that must be handled by herself. Whenever she had the time, she would read God’s words and gather with her brothers and sisters, and she also performed the duties she was able to in the church. After practicing like this for a period of time, the pain and depression in her heart gradually disappeared, replaced by a kind of peace and ease that she never had before, and her illness also gradually got better. Having experienced how relaxed life could be, she became filled with confidence for her future life and came to some new understanding about submitting to God’s sovereignty and arrangements.
Now, Li Ling no longer strives bitterly to pursue fame and fortune like she did before and has finally broken free from the fetters of fame and fortune. With God as her support, her heart has finally found belonging. She puts more time into performing her duties as a created being and wishes to dedicate the rest of her life to God and pursue to be someone who fears God and shuns evil.
After these experiences, Li Ling came to this realization: Pursuing fame and fortune and winning others’ admiration and envy can only provide us with temporary enjoyment, but it can never bring us true happiness. After we have enjoyed them, our hearts still feel empty and miserable. Only when we change the way of living, place ourselves in God’s hands, and allow God to rule over and arrange everything for us, will we be able to have peace and ease in the spirit, and only then can we live out a true human life.