By Li Zhi
I, who have believed in God for many years, had always thought that those who believed in God’s existence, could follow God and often pray to Him for keeping them from all calamities, could receive His grace, and moreover, were able to preach theand bear witness to Him—these were people who truly believed in God. However, I found recently that whenever encountering difficulties and adversities, I would have no faith in God, and even be full of misunderstanding and blame toward Him within. For instance, when I was ill yet God didn’t remove my illness because of my , my faith in Him would become ever weaker, until in the end I was even unwilling to pray; when encountering various hardships and frustrations in life, I often complained about God in my heart and thought that He should keep my family peaceful and not allow these unpleasant things to come upon me since I went to meetings regularly, and prayed and read the Bible every day. And so, time after time, I was full of misunderstandings and complaints toward God. Not until then did I begin to examine myself: Am I a true Christian? Acting in this way, am I believing in God?
Thinking back, when God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He performed many miraculous signs and wonders. For example, He divided the Red Sea to deliver them from the plight. When the common people saw this wonderful deed of God, they all cheered and jumped, and praised Him. At that time, their belief and praise of God seemed to be very sincere. However, when they wandered in the wilderness and had nothing to eat, they seemed as if they had suffered memory loss, completely forgetting God’s grace of delivering them out of the Egyptian slavery, and complaining against God for leading them out of Egypt where they could have meat, and making them suffer hardships in the wilderness. Their complaints were constantly echoing during the forty years in the wilderness. Before, whenever I saw in the Bible how the Israelites rebelled against God, I was angry in my heart and thought: They had experienced so many wonderful deeds of God, but why did they still have no faith in Him when they were faced with a small matter? Why did they praise God when receiving grace and blessings from Him but complain about Him when encountering a little difficulty? But now, only when I saw I also often complained to God in my heart because of unpleasant things did I realize: Having true faith in Him is not as simple as I have imagined. If we do not have real faith, each of us will make complaints just like the Israelites did. But, why do we complain about God whenever we encounter the unpleasant things? Confused, I began to search high and low for the solution to this question.
Until one day, I saw the following two passages of words in a spiritual book, “Today, there are still those whoin 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). “My deeds are greater in number than the grains of sand on the beaches, and My wisdom greater than that of all those sons of Solomon, yet men merely think of Me as a physician of little account and an unknown teacher of man! How many believe in Me only so I would heal them? How many believe in Me only so I would use My powers to drive unclean spirits out of their bodies? And how many believe in Me simply to receive peace and joy from Me? How many believe in Me only to demand from Me more material wealth, and how many believe in Me just to spend this life in safety and to be safe and sound in the world to come? How many believe in Me only to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven? How many believe in Me only for temporary comfort but do not seek to gain anything in the world to come? When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he originally possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, yet I acknowledged him not and felt abhorrence for him, man went far away from Me and sought the way of witch doctors and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, then all disappeared without a trace. Therefore, I say that man has faith in Me because I give too much grace, and there is far too much to gain” (“What Do You Know of Faith?”).
These two passages really contain authority and power. They pinpointed my wrong intentions and perspectives on faith in God. It turned out that my belief in God was only to ask for grace and gain His blessings and protection, and I never worshiped and knew God. Thus, whenever the blessings of God came upon me, I would thank and praise Him; but as soon as I was faced with difficulties and calamities, complaints against Him began to form in my heart. Was I not making deals with God in my belief in Him? God is the Creator, but I treated Him merely as the object of whom I could make demands. Wasn’t I making use of Him? I had thought: I attend the meetings, pray to God in all things, and often preach the gospel to testify to God, this means that I have true faith in God and can thereby obtain His approval. Never had I thought that there were so many impurities and intentions in my belief. How could it be considered as true faith? And how could I receive God’s approval? God examines people’s hearts. Through these words of Him, my corruption and impurities in my belief were revealed so thoroughly and I came to know the reason that I misunderstood and blamed God when I was in a difficult situation was due to my lack of true faith in Him.
Realizing the problem that existed in me, I started seeking the correct view of pursuit in believing in God. I saw a passage of words in the book, “It is the belief in God so that you may obey God, love God, and perform the duty that should be performed by a creature of God. This is the aim of believing in God. You must achieve a knowledge of the loveliness of God, of how worthy God is of reverence, of how, in His creatures, God does the work of salvation and making them perfect—this is the minimum that you should possess in your belief in God. Belief in God is principally the switch from a life in the flesh to a life of loving God, from a life within naturalness to a life within the being of God, it is coming out from under the domain of Satan and living under the care and protection of God, it is being able to achieve obedience to God and not obedience to the flesh, it is allowing God to gain your entire heart, allowing God to make you perfect, and freeing yourself from the corrupt satanic disposition. Belief in God is principally so that the power and glory of God may be manifested in you, so that you may carry out, and accomplish God’s plan, and be able to bear testimony to God before Satan” (“All Is Achieved by the Word of God”). Only then did I know that faith in God should not be a pursuit of blessings of the flesh. Rather, I should pursue to know God, obey Him, and love Him, fulfill the duty of a creation, and bear witness to God. And this is the pursuit that I most needed to have in my belief in God.
Think back to the good testimonies that the saints throughout the ages bore for God. Abraham, blessed by God, was given a son when he was at the age of 100. However, when the kid was in his teens, God asked Abraham to offer him as a burnt offering. Abraham neither complained about nor reasoned with God but sincerely gave his beloved only son back to Him. Because of his total obedience, God blessed his descendants to be a great nation. For another example, because of Satan’s temptation, Job lost a mountain of sheep and oxen and all his children, and furthermore, his whole body became covered in sore boils, causing him excruciating pain both in the flesh and bones. Even then, faced with the judgments and attacks of his wife and the three friends, Job never complained in the slightest and he still praised God, saying, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Due to his faith in God, he received God’s great blessings. There is also Peter. He only focused on pursuing the truth and knowing God. Because he had a heart of longing for and seeking the truth, gradually, he developed a real understanding of God and a heart of admiration for Him. In the end, he could be crucified upside down for His sake and bore a beautiful, resounding witness. What Peter pursued was after God’s heart and in believing in God, he only sought to know, love, and satisfy Him, rather than just sought anything for himself. Therefore, thesaid, “And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
The testimony of the former saints praised by God makes me realize that truly believing in God is seeking to know and obey God, acting in accordance with His requirements, and thus becoming a person who genuinely loves Him. Also, it turns around my previous imagination and the perspective of my belief in God—keeping God’s name and seeking bread to satisfy hunger. In addition, it shows me the way to practice in my future pursuit: We should seek to have true faith in God like Abraham, Peter, and Job, to love God and carry out His will, and to be compatible with Him. And only this is what a believer in God should seek above all.