By Fang Shu
One day at noon, Fang Shu, dispirited, sat under the big locust tree near his door, thinking: “These years, except for when I had to work, I have spent all of my spare time busying about in the church; I also gained a lot of the Lord’s grace. But recently, the business has been pretty slack, and my stomach trouble flared up again. Why didn’t the Lord protect me? Has He abandoned me?”
He was lost in thought when he suddenly heard someone calling his name. He looked up and saw his close co-worker, Li Yi.
Li Yi said as he parked, “Today, I came to town to take care of something, so I just dropped in to see you.”
Immediately Fang Shu beckoned him into the living room. When seeing Fang Shu looked a little peaked, Li Yi asked with concern, “Brother Fang, you look kind of pale. You’ve lost weight. Did you encounter any troublesome matters?”
“Alas! Recalling my faith in the Lord these years, I have been blessed by the Lord and received a lot of His grace. But now, my spirit is dark inside and I cannot feel the Lord’s presence. Especially these past few days, I have got another attack of stomach trouble, and my business has not been good. To be honest, faced with these unfavorable things, I have some weakness in my heart. I have been thinking, ‘Why didn’t the Lord protect me?’ Alas! I feel somewhat stuck,” said Fang Shu sadly.
Hearing his words, with a smile Li Yi said, “Brother Fang, your point of view about faith in God is incorrect. In the face of setbacks or illness, it is inevitable for us to become somewhat negative and weak, but we cannot misunderstand or complain about the Lord. Instead, we should seek the truth and the Lord’s will in these things.
Actually, my past state was the same as yours. At that time, when I saw everything at my home went well and smoothly, I had great faith to expend for the Lord; yet when I encountered setbacks in my life and also had a relapse of hypertension, I lived in the complaint toward and misunderstanding of the Lord, thinking that the Lord didn’t protect me and had abandoned me. Later, my brothers and sisters came to help and sustain me. And I also read the testimony of Job. In the face of his trials, where he lost all his possessions and sons and daughters, and his body became covered with sores, he did not sin with his lips or complain about God, but instead prayed to God to seek out His will. Then he got to realize that all the things that befell him was permitted by God, so that in the end he was able to absolutely obey God and said the words that praised God, ‘Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah’ (Job 1:21). He stood witness to God, causing Satan in the end to retreat in humiliation and he therefore was approved by God. Through brothers and sisters’ fellowship and Job’s experience, I came to know that in the setbacks I encountered and my illness were God’s good intentions. Then, I no longer misunderstood the Lord, rather, I was willing to seek the Lord’s will in the environment that He had arranged for me.
Afterward, I saw two passages of words in a book and they allowed me to have some understanding of my incorrect views on and intentions in believing in God.”
Saying this, Li Yi took a tablet computer out of his bag, and then read, “Most peoplefor the sake of peace and other benefits. Unless it is to your benefit, you don’t believe in God, and if you can’t receive God’s graces, you fall into a sulk. How could what you have said be your true stature? When it comes to inevitable family incidents such as children falling ill, loved ones going into hospital, poor crop yields, persecution by family members, you can’t even make it through these things that often happen in day-to-day life. When such things happen, you’re thrown into a panic, you don’t know what to do—and most of the time, you complain about God” (“Practice (3)”).
“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?” (“What Do You Know of Faith?”).
After finishing reading these words, Li Yi said sincerely, “These two passages of words reveal our wrong perspective of believing in God in order to obtain blessings and peace. I thought about myself. When the Lord blessed me with peace in everything at home, I actively sacrificed for Him. But when something unfavorable happened to me, I complained about and misunderstood the Lord, read theand prayed to the Lord less than I used to, and even had no enthusiasm in expanding for Him. Actually, God is the Creator and we are created beings. Not only does God supply us with all things necessary for our survival, such as food, sunlight, air, water, and so on, but He also provides us with all the truth we need. God has given us too much. So believing in and worshiping Him is totally justifiable, and is also our responsibility and duty. Thank God for revealing my wrong viewpoint on belief in Him through these setbacks and for allowing me to see that I simply was not a true believer of Him. My faith couldn’t stand the test of God, so how could it gain His approval? But Job is different. Regardless of whether he obtained blessings or suffered misfortune, he never lost his faith in God. This is what I should truly emulate and pursue. At the thought of this, I silently prayed to the Lord, ‘Lord! I’m willing to turn around my incorrect viewpoint on my faith in You, commit my illness and these unfavorable things I’ve encountered to You, and obey Your orchestrations and arrangements. No matter what kind of environments You arrange for me, I will stand witness to satisfy You.’”
Fang Shu nodded and said, “Yeah! Comparing myself with Job’s testimony and your experience, I see my viewpoint on my faith in God is indeed wrong. I really feel indebted to the Lord! Now I have had some understanding of the Lord’s will. If my business hadn’t got bad and I myself hadn’t got another attack of stomach trouble, I would still believe that I was loyal to the Lord. Now I see that I am far from being up to His standards.”
Li Yi said, “Thank the Lord! It is by the Lord’s grace that we can know these things. Brother Fang, read this passage.”
Fang Shu took the tablet computer and read, “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 do, and accomplish God’s plan, and be able to bear testimony to God before Satan. Belief in God should not be in order to behold signs and wonders, nor should it be for the sake of your personal flesh. It should be for the pursuit of knowing God, and being able to obey God….” (“All Is Achieved by the Word of God”).
Having finished reading this passage, Fang Shu said, “Thank the Lord. What on earth we should pursue in believing in God is very clearly explained in this passage.”
Li Yi said, “Yeah! In our belief in God, we must have the right viewpoint of pursuit in order to be able to bear witness for God in trials and refinement. As God is the Creator, while we are nothing but a small creation, we should have sense before God. We shouldn’t reason with God or make a deal with Him, but should grasp His intentions in all unfavorable things and obey His sovereignty and arrangements, pursue to know God, love God and satisfy God. Such a viewpoint of pursuit is praised by God.”
With emotion Fang Shu said, “Brother Li, your fellowship allowed me to understand God’s good intention in saving me. In believing in God, I shouldn’t conduct transactions with Him, always considering Him to be a cash cow and a doctor. Now I willingly commit my difficulties to God, and I will not ask to enjoy His grace, but only ask to believe in God with a heart of obeying and loving Him. Regardless if I get better or not or whether or not my business picks up, I will be willing to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements.”
Li Yi nodded and said happily, “Right. As long as we put right our views on believing in God and focus on seeking the will of God, God will lead us to understand the truth.”
Now, outside the room, the broiling sun scorched the ground, and the shrilling of cicadas in the trees made people feel more restless. Inside, Fang Shu, however, felt particularly happy.