33. Fortune and Misfortune
By Dujuan, Japan
I was born into a poor family in a village in rural China. Because of my family’s economic hardships, I would sometimes have to go without eating, to say nothing of snacks and toys. What’s more, all my clothes were hand-me-downs from my older sister. Because her clothes were usually too big for me, my classmates would laugh at me and refuse to play with me. I suffered greatly throughout my childhood. From that point on, I resolved to myself: When I grow up, I must make a lot of money and rise above my peers. I won’t let others look down on me again. Since my family had no money, I was forced to drop out before graduating from junior high school and work in a medicine factory in the county town. In order to make even more money, I would frequently work overtime until 9 or 10 p.m., but, despite my efforts I earned just a small pittance. At some point I heard that my sister was able to earn in five days selling vegetables what I earned in a month, so I quit my job at the medicine factory and went to sell vegetables. After a while I found that I could make even more money selling fruits, so I decided to start a fruit business. After I married my husband, we opened our own restaurant. I thought that now that I owned a restaurant, I would be able to earn even more money. Once I could earn a considerable amount of income I would naturally win the admiration and regard of my peers and, at the same time, I would also be able to live the lifestyle of an elite. However, after managing the business for a while, I found that we couldn’t make that much money. I started getting anxious and worried. When would I be able to lead a life that others would admire?
In 2008, a random opportunity came up. I learned from a friend that in Japan one day’s wage was roughly equal to ten days’ wages in China. When I heard this I was overjoyed. I thought that I had finally found a good opportunity to make money. Although the agent’s fees to go to Japan were expensive, I thought to myself: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. No matter how much the agent’s fees are, as long as we have jobs in Japan, we’ll be able to recoup the money quickly.” In order to realize our dreams of leading a better life, my husband and I decided to go to Japan right away. After we arrived in Japan, we were able to find jobs very quickly. Each day, my husband and I worked for over ten hours. Work stress was quite significant and I felt completely exhausted all day long. After work, all I wanted to do was lie down and rest—even eating seemed like a chore. I found it difficult to endure such a fast-paced lifestyle. However, when I thought about all the money I would have after struggling for a few years, I would encourage myself, thinking: “It might be hard work now, but in the future you’ll lead a wonderful life. So keep going and don’t give up.” So, each and every day I worked my fingers to the bone, grinding relentlessly like a money-making machine. In 2015, I finally collapsed under the heavy work load. I went to the hospital for an examination and the doctor told me that I had a herniated disc and that it was pressing against a nerve. If I continued to work the way I was working, I would eventually be bedridden and unable to care for myself. This news hit me like a bolt from the blue. Immediately, I became extremely weak. My life had only just started improving, and I was getting closer and closer to my dream. I never would have thought that I would get sick. I refused to give up. I thought: “I’m still young. I can just grit my teeth and push through this. If I don’t make more money now, and return to China with such meager earnings, won’t I lose even more face?” And so, I kept on dragging my sick body to work every day to make more money. However, after a few days, I was so sick that I literally couldn’t get out of bed.
Lying there on a bed in the hospital with nobody to take care of me, I felt absolutely miserable. “How did I end up in this situation? Am I actually going to end up bedridden?” How I hoped in that moment for someone to sit by my side. Unfortunately, my husband was at work and my son was at school. My boss and colleagues were only concerned with their own personal profit; none of them showed me the least bit of care. When I looked around the sick ward at all the various patients, each absorbed in their own suffering, I experienced a kind of inexpressible sadness and couldn’t help pondering: What’s the purpose of life? How can one live a meaningful life? Can money really buy happiness? I reflected on what I had to show for 30 years of struggling. I had worked in a medicine factory, sold fruit, run a restaurant and come to Japan to work. Even though I had indeed earned some money during all these years, it had come at the expense of my own happiness, and there was no one to whom I could relate my suffering. I had thought that once I reached Japan I would be able to realize my dreams very quickly. After a few years in Japan, when I returned to China, I would be able to start life anew in wealth and splendor and become the envy of my peers. However, now here I was, lying in a hospital bed and even facing the prospect of spending the whole second half of my life confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain…. At the thought of this, I started to regret that I had risked my life just to earn money and get ahead in life. The more I thought about this, the more bitter tears began flowing down my face. In agony, I couldn’t help calling out in my heart: “Oh, heavens! Save me! Why is life so cruel?”
Just when I was sunk most deeply in pain and helplessness, Almighty God’s salvation came to me and my sickness became my blessing. By chance, I became acquainted with three sisters from The Church of Almighty God. Through reading God’s words together with them, I understood that all things in heaven and on earth do not arise out of natural processes, but are created by God, that God is the Master of the entire universe, that man’s destiny is also in God’s hands, that God has all along guided and supplied mankind, and that He constantly looks after and protects mankind. I felt how greatly God loves man. But there was something I still didn’t understand: God rules and presides over our destinies, and we ought to be happy and joyful, so why do we still suffer illness and pain? Why is life so hard? Where exactly does life’s pain come from? One day, I told the sisters about my confusion. One sister read out a passage of Almighty God’s words for me, “What is the source of the lifelong suffering from birth, death, illness, and old age that humans endure? What caused people to have these things? Humans did not have them when they were first created, did they? Where, then, did these things come from? They came into being after humans were tempted by Satan and their flesh became degenerate. The pain of human flesh, its afflictions, and its emptiness, as well as the extremely miserable affairs of the human world, only came once Satan had corrupted mankind. After humans were corrupted by Satan, it began to torment them. As a result, they became more and more degenerate. The diseases of humanity grew more and more acute, and their suffering became more and more severe. Increasingly, people sensed the emptiness and tragedy of the human world, as well as their inability to go on living there, and they felt less and less hope for the world. Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan” (“The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering” in Records of Christ’s Talks). The sister fellowshiped with me, saying, “At the beginning when God created men, God was with them, and He took care of them and protected them. At that time there was no birth, ageing, illness or death, and no worries or annoyances. Men lived free of anxiety and care in the Garden of Eden, delighting in all the things that God bestowed upon them. Mankind lived happily and joyfully under God’s guidance. But after mankind was enticed and corrupted by Satan, they betrayed God and heeded the words of Satan over those of God. For this reason mankind lost the care, protection and blessing of God, and fell under the domain of Satan. For thousands of years, Satan has consistently used such heresies and sophistries as materialism, atheism, and evolutionism, as well as the absurdities and lies publicized by great men and celebrities to deceive and harm people: ‘There is no God at all,’ ‘There has never been any Savior,’ ‘One’s destiny is in his own hand,’ ‘Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,’ ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ ‘Man will do anything to get rich,’ ‘Money makes the world go round,’ and ‘Money is first,’ and so on. After mankind accepted these absurdities and heresies, they denied the existence of God, denied God’s sovereignty, and betrayed God. They desired to rely on their own two hands to create a happy life. Man’s disposition also became more and more arrogant and conceited. They became ever more self-righteous, selfish, crafty, and evil. All manner of connivance, intrigue and competition arose between men in their struggle for status, wealth and personal profit. They fought with and cheated each other, in the process becoming increasingly anxious and exhausted. Ultimately, this caused them to become ill, to experience pain and suffering and to become spiritually empty. These pains and anxieties make us feel that man’s life in this world is too trying, too tiring, and too full of suffering. This all came about after Satan corrupted man, it was Satan harming us, and it was also the bitter consequence of mankind denying God, distancing themselves from God, and betraying God.”
The sister continued her fellowship with me, saying: “God cannot bear watching mankind continue to be corrupted and harmed by Satan and so He incarnated twice among men to redeem and save us corrupt humans. Especially in the last days, the incarnate Christ has expressed millions of words; they are the truth that allows people to wrest themselves from Satan’s corruption, to be purified and fully saved. As long as we listen to God’s word and understand the truth within God’s word, we will be able to distinguish and see clearly all the methods and ways that Satan corrupts mankind. We will see through to Satan’s evil essence and have the strength to abandon Satan, break free from Satan’s harm, return before God, obtain God’s salvation and in the end, be brought by God to a wonderful final destination.” When I heard that God had personally come to save mankind, I became very emotional. I really didn’t want Satan to continue to harm me, so I told my sisters of my pain and confusion: “There is a matter I don’t quite understand. A proverb says, ‘Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards.’ I’ve worked so hard to stand out and live a comfortable life, and according to societal norms, this would be seen as being idealistic and ambitious. Could it be that this way of life is also a way in which Satan harms us?”
The sister read another two passages of Almighty God’s words to me: “During the process of man’s learning of knowledge, Satan employs all manner of methods, whether it be telling stories, simply giving them some individual piece of knowledge, or allowing them to satisfy their desires or ambitions. What road does Satan want to lead you down? People think there is nothing wrong with learning knowledge, that it is entirely natural. To put it in a way that sounds appealing, to foster lofty ideals or to have ambitions is to have drive, and this should be the right path in life. Is it not a more glorious way for people to live if they can realize their own ideals, or successfully establish a career? By doing these things, one can not only honor one’s ancestors but also has the chance to leave one’s mark on history—is this not a good thing? This is a good thing in the eyes of worldly people, and to them it should be proper and positive. Does Satan, however, with its sinister motives, take people on to this kind of road and that’s all there is to it? Of course not. In fact, no matter how lofty man’s ideals are, no matter how realistic man’s desires are or how proper they may be, all that man wants to achieve, all that man seeks for, is inextricably linked to two words. These two words are vitally important to the life of every person, and they are things Satan intends to instill in man. What are these two words? They are ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Satan uses a very subtle kind of method, a method very much in concert with people’s notions, which is not at all radical, through which it causes people to unknowingly accept its way of living, its rules to live by, and to establish life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ambitions in life. No matter how grand these life ambitions may seem, they are inextricably linked to ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Everything that any great or famous person—all people, in fact—follow in life relates only to these two words: ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on those things to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. They think fame and gain are a kind of capital that they can use to obtain a life of pleasure-seeking and wanton enjoyment of the flesh. For the sake of this fame and gain which mankind so covets, people willingly, albeit unknowingly, hand over their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies, to Satan. They do so without even a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover all that they have handed over. Can people retain any control over themselves once they have taken refuge in Satan in this way and become loyal to it? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They have completely and utterly sunk into a quagmire, and are unable to free themselves. Once someone is mired in fame and gain, they no longer seek that which is bright, that which is righteous, or those things that are beautiful and good. This is because the seductive power that fame and gain have over people is too great; they become things for people to pursue throughout their lives and even for all eternity without end. Is this not true?” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “So, Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people 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 the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After finishing reading God’s words, the sister fellowshiped with me regarding the facts and reality of Satan’s use of fame and gain to corrupt man. Only then did I understand that all those who hold power in this world and who control mankind are the evil forces of Satan, that famous and revered people are devil kings who corrupt mankind, and that the atheism of Marx and the theory of evolution advanced by Darwin have deceived and corrupted mankind to the extreme, and have led mankind to shun God and betray Him. It was only then that I realized that the books I had read in the past were all filled with Satan’s poison, Satan’s philosophy, and Satan’s logic. If it were not for the word of God that revealed to me how the devil Satan has corrupted mankind, I would still be deceived and controlled by Satan, strenuously struggling in the darkness. There is nothing wrong with man having ideals and aspirations per se, but in the process of man’s pursuit of his ideals, Satan uses all kinds of methods to imbue men with its methods and principles of survival, enticing men to live only for fame and gain. When men expend and strive for fame and gain, they no longer search for what is light, and how to live a meaningful life, because the allure of fame and gain is so great for us, and we become so obsessed with it that we have no way of extricating ourselves. These are the shackles with which Satan binds our bodies, the conniving plots by which Satan corrupts men. Reflecting back, in the pursuit of excelling above my peers and earning money to win the admiration of others, I had lost my sense of self, became a soulless, money-making machine, and even sacrificed my health for the sake of fame and gain without the slightest misgiving. I had truly become a slave to money, fame and gain. Because I was under the control of a mistaken view of life expressed in the saying “Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,” I made great efforts to struggle on, always wanting to be better. I was never satisfied, and I only stopped because I had worked my body to the brink of collapse and had no other choice. The pursuit of fame and gain had really made my life so difficult and tiring! If it was not for the revelations of the words of Almighty God, I would never have known that my pursuit of wealth and fame and gain was mistaken and that this is one method by which Satan seriously harms people, much less would I have seen through the sinister motives and conniving schemes by which Satan corrupts man. After this, the sister read to me several passages of the words of Almighty God, and through her fellowship about the word of God and the different methods and ways in which Satan corrupts mankind, I understood that by constantly seeking fame and gain over these years, I had been overwhelmed by pain, and in the end had fallen ill. All of this pain was the result of not believing in God and knowing the truth—I had been harmed and corrupted by Satan!
Afterward, the sisters often came to share fellowship with me on the words of God. Gradually, I became more and more convinced of God’s work of the last days, I developed some discernment with regard to the ways in which Satan harms men, and I understood that what is most important is to believe in God, read the words of God, pursue the truth, and submit to God’s rule and arrangements. Only by living in this way would I receive God’s commendation, and live the most meaningful and joyful life possible! Soon after, I learned that one of my female colleagues had also come to Japan with her husband to find work and make money, but despite having made some money, her husband started to experience some physical discomfort and later had no choice but to return home for treatment. Upon returning home, testing revealed that he had late-stage cancer. After the diagnosis, they no longer wanted to come to Japan again to earn money. The whole family was living in fear and sorrow. My colleague’s misfortune gave me a profound sense of the fragility and preciousness of man’s life. If we are bereft of life, what is the use in having more money? Can money buy life? One day, I read the words of Almighty God, which say: “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 live on, exempt from death. But only when they are about to die 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 may be, no matter how lofty their position, all are equally poor and insignificant 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” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words allowed me to see even more clearly that Satan uses money and fame to fetter and harm men, and to destroy many people’s lives. But because we cannot see through Satan’s schemes, and we fail to realize that money and fame are the tools which Satan employs to torment mankind, we are drawn down inextricably into the vortex, and, in spite of ourselves, are deceived and harmed by Satan. At that moment, I realized how lucky I had been to be able to receive the last days’ work of Almighty God. Had I not read the words of Almighty God, I would never have seen through to the truth of Satan’s use of money and fame to harm people, and sooner or later, I also would have been swallowed up by Satan.
While I was unwell, the sisters of the church often called on me. Since I couldn’t move my back, the sisters would give me massages and cupping. One of the sisters who was medically trained told me which acupuncture points to press to bring relief to my condition. They also actively helped me with my household chores, taking care of me as if they were family. As an expatriate in a foreign country, I had no one that I could really rely on close by, so I was truly moved that these sisters took care of me better than even my own relatives would. I thanked them again and again. However, my sisters said to me, “Thousands of years ago, God predestined and selected us. Now, He has arranged for us to be born in the last days and, insofar as we’ve accepted God’s work of the last days, to walk this path together. This is the rule of God. We were actually all already family a long time ago. It’s just that we got separated and it wasn’t until now that we were reunited.” Once my sisters said this, I could no longer control my emotions and I hugged them, tears streaming down my face. At that moment, I felt a closeness with my sisters that I cannot describe. My heart was even more grateful to Almighty God than ever.
Gradually and imperceptibly, my illness began to improve. After experiencing the torment of this sickness, I reflected on how I had been under the control of Satan’s philosophy of life. All along, I sought to stand out among my peers, firmly believing that in so doing I would be able to lead a life of happiness and would receive the admiration and envy of those around me. However, I never thought what I would obtain instead was pain and sadness, without even a sliver of peace and happiness. Now that I have read the words of God and understood God’s will, I am no longer willing to fight against destiny nor am I willing to seek fame and gain. This is not the life I want. Now, aside from going to work, I frequently attend gatherings, read God’s word and share my own experiences and understanding with my brothers and sisters. I’ve also learned to sing hymns. I lead a happy life and have gained a kind of assuredness and peace that I’ve never felt before.
One day, during my devotions I came across these words of God: “When one looks back on the road one has walked, when one recollects every phase of one’s journey, one sees that at every step, whether one’s journey 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 has a positive attitude toward God’s sovereignty over human fate, 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 determination and confidence to let God orchestrate one’s fate and 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 their way 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 clever 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, and to stop struggling against fate and pursuing their so-called ‘life goals’ in their own way. When one does not have God, when one cannot see Him, when one cannot clearly recognize God’s sovereignty, every day is meaningless, worthless, miserable. Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and suffering without relief, such that one cannot bear to look back on one’s past. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life will one gradually begin to break free from all heartbreak and suffering, and to be rid of all the emptiness of life” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God is the Creator, and men are His created beings. The life of every person is in the hands of God, under His orchestration and arrangement. All that man obtains in life lies in God’s control, and is preordained by God. Man’s rushing about hither and thither is certainly not a deciding factor. However much God bestows upon man, that is how much he can obtain. If God makes no such bestowal, no matter how much man works, his efforts will be in vain. It is just like the sayings “Man plants the seed, but Heaven decides the harvest,” and “Man proposes, God disposes.” Therefore, in our lives we should submit to the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangements. This is the secret to happiness in life, and this is what a real life consists in! At the same time, I also understood that regardless of how much wealth a person has, or how high a position he holds, these are all merely worldly possessions. He did not bring them with him when he was born and he cannot take them with him after he dies. In devoting himself to the pursuit of fame and gain what he obtains in the end is all emptiness and suffering, and the final outcome is that he is consumed by Satan. After I had achieved this understanding, I resolved to take on a different way of life, to start anew. I wished only to obey God’s orchestration and arrangements, and to leave the second half of my life in God’s hands for Him to arrange. I would no longer pursue wealth and status to win the admiration of others, but instead I would seek to be someone who obeys God, I would live truly for God and live to repay God’s love. Now, I work for three to four hours each day. My boss is Japanese. Although we have language difficulties, my boss takes good care of me. Whenever she tells me to do something she always uses simple words that I can understand and never gives me any pressure. I know that this is God’s mercy on me, and His blessing. I feel very grateful. At the same time, I have understood even better that if man listens to God’s words, and submits to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, only then will he be able to lead a relaxed and joyful life.
Whenever I am alone, I often think back on the path I took in coming before God. If it were not due to illness I would not have halted my pursuit of money and fame, and I would still have been a complete money-making machine in the world, right up until I was cruelly killed off by Satan, never thinking to repent or change my ways. Satan used fame and gain to harm me, causing me to become ill, but Almighty God used my illness to bring me before Him, enabling me to clearly see through God’s words that Satan is the chief culprit in the corruption of man, and to recognize the true nature of Satan’s plot to use money and fame to corrupt man and consume man, leading me to see through some aspects of the mundane world. I knew from where man had come, and where man was going, I also knew the source of man’s sinning and depravity, and I understood how man should live a meaningful life. God’s words say, “Some people begin to believe in God because of illness. This illness is God’s grace for you; without it, you would not believe in God, and if you did not believe in God then you would not have come this far—and thus even this grace is the love of God” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words are truly practical. Only through disaster have I acquired blessings! Nowadays, under the supply and guidance of God’s words, I have thrown off the bonds of Satan, and have a correct outlook on life. I have walked upon the right path of life, and my spirit has been greatly liberated. God truly is so wise, so omnipotent! I thank Almighty God for loving me and saving me!