8. Can Knowledge Really Change Your Fate?
By Danyi, Japan
I was born into a family of farmers. People looked down on us because we were poor, and I was often excluded and treated coldly as a child. After starting school, I’d always hear my teacher say “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society” and “Knowledge can change your fate.” So, I swore that I would study hard, get into college, and make those who looked down on us see just what a peasant girl like me could do. I believed that knowledge was everything, that it was the key to unlocking one’s fate. I never thought that this notion would bring such pain to our family.
I took the college entrance exam in the nineties. I got up early and went to bed late, studying day and night to prepare for it. Sometimes I’d even skip meals. I always ranked among the top students, and so my teachers took an active interest in my education. As for me, I felt pretty confident. But, against all expectations, I failed the exam. This plunged me into despair. I couldn’t stand the thought of spending my life in that village. But given my parents’ old age and our lack of funds, I had to face reality. I had to give up on retaking the test, so I started working. After a while, I took a job at a design company. I had to work overtime every day, but the pay was extremely low. Meanwhile, those with education and diplomas worked little, but received much higher pay, and had more chances for promotion. It seemed that having knowledge and diplomas gave people status and respect from others, which made me worship knowledge even more. But knowing college wasn’t an option for me left me feeling resentful and helpless.
I had a daughter in 2001. I placed all my unrealized dreams of going to university on her shoulders. When she was very young, I told her that the only way to a brighter future was to study hard and go to a good college. Our finances were limited, but to ensure she got a good education, I paid for her to go to tutorial classes, buy textbooks, and download study materials from the internet. I also carefully prepared a study schedule for her. I told her what to do after school, how long to spend on homework, how long to spend on reading … I packed her schedule. To ensure she learned how to focus when studying, I told her she couldn’t use the toilet until she’d studied for an hour. When she studied I’d usually supervise her the whole time, sometimes until midnight. With my high-pressure tutoring, her grades did get a bit better. But I got an unexpected call from her teacher after a while. He said: “Your child has been distracted in class lately. She doesn’t play with the others during recess and her grades are slipping, but we don’t know why.” I simply didn’t want to believe this. I felt a surge of resentment toward my daughter, thinking: “I’ve gone to such lengths for you, I take pains to help you study. How could you let me down like this? I’ll deal with you when you get back!” When she came home, I really laid into her for a long time. She was upset and said I’d put her under too much pressure. She cried, and locked herself in her room. I couldn’t get her to come out. I felt helpless. I collapsed on the sofa in tears and thought: “How could she misunderstand all the consideration I’ve shown her?” After that, in terms of her education, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. If I was strict with her I was afraid she’d be stressed out, and who knew how she’d react? But if I wasn’t, then her grades would slip and she wouldn’t get into college. How could I ensure a bright future for her? I could hardly eat or sleep with this on my mind. One day, I thought of my mom and how she’d shared Almighty God’s gospel of the last days with me. She often told me: “When you face hardship, you can pray to God, and He will find you a way out.” So, I prayed, and told God about my problem. I started reading Almighty God’s word and joined in with church life.
One time, I bumped into a sister on the street. While we were chatting, I shared my frustration over my daughter’s education with her. She replied: “Teaching our children, culturing them, showing them the right path are all things parents should do. We all want our children to attend college and to excel. So, I completely understand. But whether or not this will happen is out of our hands. Our destiny is in God’s hands. Our looks, our jobs, our marriages, our education, our finances and our lifespans … All of this was decided by God before we were even born. No one can change any of that. Our sons and daughters are the same. Their appearance, their character, their path in life, and their fortune can’t be changed by their parents’ teachings. Some parents are intellectual, intelligent and capable. But their children are foolish, incompetent, and accomplish nothing. Some parents are uncultured and ordinary, but their children are bright and talented, and stand out. This shows us that whatever we do, we can’t change our destiny. As they say: ‘Man’s fate is determined by Heaven.’ We have to fulfill our responsibilities to educate our children. But we must remember: ‘Do your best, and leave the rest to God.’ This way, you won’t have to agonize so much.” I knew that what she was saying was true. Before she left, she mentioned two passages of Almighty God’s word and told me I should read them.
Almighty God says, “From the moment you come crying into this world, you begin to fulfill your duty. Performing your role in God’s plan and in His ordination, you start your life’s journey. Whatever your background, and whatever the journey ahead of you, no one can escape the orchestrations and arrangements of the Heaven, and no one is in control of their own destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “People know that they are powerless and hopeless in this life, that they will not have another chance or another hope to stand out from the crowd, and that they have no choice but to accept their fates. And so they project all their hopes, their unrealized desires and ideals, onto the next generation, hoping that their offspring can help them achieve their dreams and realize their desires; that their daughters and sons will bring glory to the family name, become important, rich, or famous. In short, they want to see their children’s fortunes soar. People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that not a bit of their children’s fates is in their hands? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance?” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words spoke to my heart. When I was young, I always worked hard to fulfill my dream of going to college, But in spite of my great effort, I still failed. When my daughter was born, this feeling began to stir again. It felt like a second chance. I placed all my hopes for my own life onto my daughter’s shoulders. I wanted her to learn, to excel, to have a bright future ahead of her, to live out my dreams for me. But still, despite my efforts, things failed to turn out that way. My daughter had always been sensible and well-behaved, and her grades were fine. It was only when I put pressure on her that she began to slip. Her grades and the path she took through life were both out of my control. That was all in God’s hands. I couldn’t even control my own destiny, let alone my daughter’s. I’d been arrogant and I’d overestimated myself. This realization was a relief for me.
After that, I stopped organizing my daughter’s schedule like I used to, and stopped demanding so much of her. A while later, when I went to the school, her teacher said: “Your daughter is smart and has great potential. She should definitely be able to get into a key high school with some tutoring. That way, getting into college won’t be a problem.” What he said made me waver in my attitude. I didn’t care if my daughter was top of the class or not, but I had always wanted her to go to college. Otherwise, she’d face too much pressure later in life, and she’d never gain a foothold in society. I noticed my husband began forcing her to study, wanting her to become the top student. When her grades were good, he rewarded her. If not, he punished her. I didn’t really agree with him, but I didn’t stop him either. I even thought that if his methods worked and she really did excel, it would bring honor to our ancestors. But, slowly, I discovered that under such pressure, our daughter was becoming antisocial. She would shut herself in her room without talking to us, and was always getting angry with me. Once, my husband scolded her for failing to memorize the I Ching. She was so upset that she ran out of the house and slammed the door. We looked for her, but couldn’t find her anywhere. We were terrified of what could happen to her and all sorts of things ran through our minds: “Would she end up in a car accident? Would she do something stupid?” In the end she came home, to my relief, late at night. Around then, I saw a news report that made my heart jump into my throat. A junior high student had committed suicide because of academic pressure. I went online to search for more information, and what I found was terrifying. So many students develop psychological problems because of academic pressure. Some become antisocial or lose the ability to concentrate and some even kill themselves. I broke out in a cold sweat and then couldn’t sleep that night.
The next day, I worried about what to say to my daughter, knowing any wrong word might make her run away from home again, or worse. I was on edge for days afterwards. Once again, I had to scrutinize my stance on my child’s education. I’d always worshiped knowledge and thought that gaining knowledge and going to college paved the way for a brighter future. But here my daughter was falling apart from the stress. I didn’t know what to do nor how things had turned out this way. I wondered why life is so full of suffering. One day in my devotionals, I watched two video readings of God’s word. Almighty God says, “Since mankind’s contrivance of the social sciences, the mind of man has become occupied by science and knowledge. Science and knowledge then have become tools for the ruling of mankind, and there is no longer sufficient room for man to worship God, and no more favorable conditions for the worship of God. The position of God has sunk ever lower in the heart of man. Without God in his heart, man’s inner world is dark, hopeless and empty. Subsequently many social scientists, historians, and politicians have come to the fore to express theories of social science, the theory of human evolution, and other theories that contradict the truth that God created man, to fill the hearts and minds of mankind. And in this way, those who believe that God created everything have become ever fewer, and those who believe in the theory of evolution have become ever greater in number. More and more people treat the records of the work of God and His words during the age of the Old Testament as myths and legends. In their hearts, people become indifferent to the dignity and greatness of God, to the tenet that God exists and holds dominion over all things. The survival of mankind and the fate of countries and nations are no longer important to them, and man lives in a hollow world concerned only with eating, drinking, and the pursuit of pleasure” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Satan uses knowledge as bait. Listen closely: Knowledge is just a kind of bait. People are enticed to study hard and improve themselves day after day, to weaponize knowledge and arm themselves with it, and then to use knowledge to open the gateway to science; in other words, the more knowledge you gain, the more you will understand. Satan tells people all of this; it tells people to foster lofty ideals as they are learning knowledge, instructing them to build up ambitions and aspirations. Unbeknownst to man, Satan conveys many messages like this, causing people to unconsciously feel that these things are correct or beneficial. Unknowingly, people set foot upon this path, unknowingly led onward by their own ideals and ambitions. … Seduced by Satan, they unknowingly walk the road it has prepared for them. As they go down this road, they are forced to accept Satan’s rules of living. Completely unaware, they develop their own rules that they live by, but these are nothing more than Satan’s rules, which it has forcefully instilled in them. Satan makes them, during the learning process, foster their own objectives and determine their own life goals, rules to live by, and direction in life, all the while instilling in them the things of Satan, using stories, biographies, and all other means possible to entice people, little by little, until they take the bait” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life nature. ‘Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s fine traditional culture to educate people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
God’s word points to the source of all human suffering. We’re steeped in Satan’s poisons through government education, and the influence of famous people and traditional culture, such as “Knowledge can change your fate,” “One’s destiny is in his own hand,” and “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society.” These get us to pursue knowledge, to think of knowledge as everything, so we can stand out from the crowd and have a good life. We start to pursue and worship knowledge, denying God’s existence and sovereignty. We shun and resist God, and God is absent from our hearts. We lose His care and protection and His sustenance for life. We become empty and degenerate. Lots of people have knowledge, renown, and the respect of others, but their lives are empty and painful. A lot of high-ranking officials are intelligent and hold degrees but in the struggle for money, power and status, they deceive, frame and murder each other. Some of them kill themselves or are killed by others. A person’s intelligence and status have no impact on their destiny or their final outcome. “One’s destiny is in his own hand” and “Knowledge can change your fate” are Satan’s lies, designed to deceive and corrupt people. God created man. Humanity needs God’s salvation and His sustenance for life. Humanity need only worship God and submit to His sovereignty to have a good outcome. People shun and forsake God, thinking knowledge can change their fate. Ultimately, they resist God and perish. It is as God said: “If you rely on your knowledge and ability in your undertakings, then you shall always be a failure and shall always be bereft of the blessings of God” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I was just like this! Before I believed in God, I lived by satanic principles such as “Knowledge can change your fate” and “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society.” I spared no effort in my studies to get into college and excel. When my dreams fell through, I thought there was nothing to look forward to, that life had no meaning. After having my daughter, I forced these satanic principles on her, putting all this pressure on her. In the end, because of this oppressive environment, she became headstrong, fragile, antisocial and angry. She couldn’t speak her mind to me and our mother-daughter relationship became hostile. I lived by Satan’s principles for survival, not only exhausting myself, but also forcing my daughter into hardship and almost ruining her life. This comes from the damage done by Satan. I knew if I continued to live by Satan’s principles, wanting my child to change her fate through knowledge and ability, I would only set her up for failure. This is when I understood: My daughter’s fate and her future prospects are not decided by going to college. Worshiping God is the only way to a positive future. As parents, we need to teach our children based on the truth of God’s word, and guide them along the right path in life. This is our responsibility to them.
In the following days, I stopped forcing my daughter to study and to be the top student. I let things take their course. In the evening, I would read God’s word with her and teach her how God created the heavens and earth and all things, how people are corrupted by Satan, how God saves us, and so on. When my daughter faced hardship, she knew to pray and rely on God. She gradually became more sensible and started to smile more often. Her grades became even better than before and our relationship became more harmonious. One day, I read this passage of God’s word: “We will start by addressing the most superficial aspect of knowledge. Are the grammar and words in languages able to corrupt people? Can words corrupt people? (No.) Words do not corrupt people; they are a tool that people use to speak and they are also the tool with which people communicate with God, not to mention that at present, language and words are how God communicates with people. They are tools, and they are a necessity. One plus one equals two, and two multiplied by two equals four; is this not knowledge? But can this corrupt you? This is common knowledge—it is a fixed pattern—and so it cannot corrupt people. So what type of knowledge does corrupt people? Corrupting knowledge is knowledge that is intermingled with Satan’s viewpoints and thoughts. Satan seeks to inculcate these viewpoints and thoughts into humanity through the medium of knowledge. For example, in an article, there is nothing wrong with the written words in themselves. The problem lies with the viewpoints and intent of the author when they wrote the article, as well as the content of their thoughts. These are things of the spirit, and they are able to corrupt people” (“God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me some insight into having knowledge. Practical knowledge is a positive thing that everyone should have, because it enhances their caliber. We should approach it properly. Writing and musical knowledge are good things. Some scientific knowledge is also good, like learning about machinery, chemistry, physics, as well as medicine and cooking. These are tools that we need to survive, and should all be grasped well. But knowledge is not the truth. It cannot change a person or be their very life. It shouldn’t be blindly worshiped. However much people learn, unless they live by the truth, they’ll never escape Satan’s corruption. Their lives will be painful and empty, and when the great disasters come, they will perish. I never used to understand the truth and didn’t know how to approach knowledge. I was poisoned by Satan, thinking that pursuing knowledge could change my destiny and help me stand out. When my dreams were shattered, I put all my hopes on my daughter’s shoulders. I spent all my time, money and energy into her studies, pushing her to get into college. But she just became more and more antisocial, and almost ran away from home. Satan had wounded me deeply, it’s true, but it had done more harm to my daughter. Our whole family had been damaged by the satanic fallacy that “Knowledge can change your fate.” Almighty God’s words showed me how Satan uses knowledge to deceive and corrupt people. Knowledge isn’t truth. It can’t change us or save us. Only God is the truth, and only God’s words can save us. Now I knew that guiding my child to believe in God, to study His word and pursue the truth is the only right path in life.
One day, my daughter told me about other students who argued, fought, smoked and drank, and openly dated each other. The school turned a blind eye to such behaviors and their parents’ hands were tied. When I asked my daughter what she thought, she said: “I believe in God. I don’t do those things because God doesn’t like them.” I felt so moved. If I hadn’t brought her before God and had her read God’s word to understand the truth, she might have gone down the same wrong path as those other children. It was Almighty God’s word that changed me, that freed me from the shackles of knowledge and helped me to guide my daughter along the right path. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Almighty God for His protection and salvation!