5. Gaining Blessing Through Misfortune
By Du Juan, Japan
Almighty God says, “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! … 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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). These words of God really move me as they’re an accurate portrayal of my own life.
I was born into a poor rural family and people have looked down on me all my life. My family was poor, so sometimes I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, and I always wore my sister’s hand-me-downs. The clothes swam on me. My classmates all made fun of me and didn’t want to associate with me. I had a really painful childhood. Starting then, I resolved: When I’m grown up, I’m definitely going to earn lots of money, live a good life, and no one will look down on me again. Since my family didn’t have any money, I had to drop out of school before I’d finished junior high school to go work in the county pharmaceutical factory. I’d work overtime until 10 at night a lot so I could earn a little more. I later heard that my older sister could earn my monthly wage selling vegetables for five days. I immediately quit my job at the pharmaceutical factory to sell vegetables. After getting married, my husband and I opened a restaurant. I thought I’d make more money running a restaurant, then I could live a grand and dignified life, envied and looked up to by others. But competition was fierce in that business and we only hired one server to save money. I did everything, running between the kitchen and the dining area. Sometimes I was too tired to stay on my feet. Some government officials would come by but they never paid, then there were all sorts of fines and taxes to pay. Sometimes they’d use any excuse to fine us and walk off with a day’s earnings. This made me really mad but there’s nothing I can do about it in China. I just have to keep my head down. Even working as hard as we did, we didn’t make much money. I started to worry after we’d been in business for a while, thinking, “When will I live the good life with lots of money?”
In 2008, a friend told me that in one day’s work in Japan, people could earn what they’d get for ten days of work in China. I was overjoyed to hear this. I thought that I’d finally found a good chance to make some money. The intermediary’s fees to go to Japan were high, but I thought, “You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. As long as we get jobs in Japan, we’ll get that money back really fast.” My husband and I decided to go to Japan right away to chase that dream. Once there, we had to work 13–14 hours every day. We were dead tired. After work we just wanted to lie down and rest. We didn’t want to eat. My lower back hurt all the time and I couldn’t afford to see a doctor, so I just took painkillers to help me cope. Not only was I in pain, but I was being scolded by my boss and bullied by my colleagues. One time, I made a little mistake when I was new to the job. My boss really laid into me and I got so upset I cried. But what else could I do? I just had to stuff my feelings so I could keep making money. I told myself over and over, “It’s hard now, but when I’ve made some money I’ll be able to stand up straight and look people in the eye. I have to hold on.” And so, I kept myself going every day working like a money-making machine. Unexpectedly, by 2015, I had fallen ill with exhaustion from the heavy work. I went to the hospital for a check-up and the doctor told me I had a slipped lumbar disc that was pressing on a nerve, and if I kept working, I’d be bedridden and I wouldn’t be able to look after myself. This struck me like a bolt out of the blue, and I felt weak all over all at once. Things were just looking up in my life and my dream was getting closer. But instead, I ended up injured. I couldn’t accept it, and I thought: “I’m still young. If I just grit my teeth, I’ll be able to get through this. If I don’t earn some money now and I go back to China with empty hands, won’t that be humiliating?” And so, I gritted my teeth and kept dragging my injured body to work. When the pain got bad I just slapped on a medicated patch and struggled on. I worked full days, then the pain was so bad at night I couldn’t sleep. I could hardly even turn over. Just a few days later, I was so unwell I couldn’t even crawl out of bed.
Lying there in bed, I felt so helpless and lonely, and I wondered, “How could I find myself here, at such a young age? Will I really end up bedridden?” I felt a kind of grief that I couldn’t express, and I just had to wonder, “What does man live for after all? Is it really just to make money and stand out? Does money really mean happiness? Is running myself into the ground for money really worth it?” Over nearly thirty years of working myself to the bone, I’d worked in the factory, sold vegetables, run a restaurant, and come to Japan to work. I had made some money along the way, but there had been so much misery. At first, I thought I’d realize my dream by coming to Japan, that I’d be rich overnight and live an enviable life. But instead, I was stuck in bed, and might even spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. At that thought, I particularly regretted that I’d run myself down to make some money and be a cut above. I felt aggrieved, miserable, and sad. I couldn’t help but cry. I called out within my heart: “Heavens, save me! Why is my life so exhausting, so hard?”
And it was just when I was helpless and in pain that God’s salvation of the last days came to me. I met two sisters who believed in God by chance. Through reading God’s words with them and listening to their fellowship on the truth, I understood that all things were created by God, God rules the entire universe, everyone’s destiny is in God’s hands, God has guided and sustained mankind all along, and He always looks after and protects mankind. But I was still confused about something. Our destiny is controlled by God, and God has been leading and protecting us all along, so we should be happy. Then why do we still suffer illness and pain? Why is life so hard? Where does all this pain really come from? I asked the sisters about this.
Sister Qin read some 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 Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering).. She then shared this fellowship: “When God created man, they were accompanied, cared for, and protected by God. There was no birth, aging, illness or death, and no worries or annoyances. Man lived free of cares in the Garden of Eden, enjoying all things that could be enjoyed bestowed by God. They lived happily and joyfully under God’s guidance. But then man was deceived and corrupted by Satan. They believed its lies, sinned and betrayed God, and so lost God’s care and protection. We’ve lived under Satan’s domain ever since and have fallen into darkness. We live lives of toil, worry, pain and sorrow. For thousands of years, Satan has consistently used heresies and fallacies like materialism, atheism, and evolution, and maxims spread by famous and great figures to mislead and harm people, like ‘There is no God in the world,’ ‘One’s destiny is in his own hand,’ ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ ‘Stand out above the rest, and bring honor to your ancestors,’ and ‘Man will do anything to get rich,’ ‘Money makes the world go round,’ and so on. After accepting these satanic fallacies, people have denied God’s existence and rule, distancing themselves from God and betraying Him. They have become more arrogant and conceited, more selfish, crafty, and malicious. People engage in intrigue, fight, and kill for the sake of fame, status and wealth. Husbands and wives, friends cheat and betray each other, even fathers and sons turn on each other and brothers attack one another. We’ve totally lost our normal humanity and live more like beasts than humans. Satan’s fallacies have harmed so many people. Thinking they can control or change it, they fight against their own fate. They fight all their lives, and they not only fail to change their fates, but ruin themselves in the attempt. Mankind’s been misled and corrupted by Satan. We toil all day, tormented in body and mind. All sorts of illnesses and suffering are on the rise. These sufferings and anxieties make us feel that man’s life in this world is too hard and tiring. This all comes about after Satan corrupted man, it is Satan harming us, and it is also the bitter fruit of mankind denying God and betraying God.”
Sister Qin’s fellowship showed me that man’s illnesses came from Satan. After Satan corrupted man, we lost God’s care and protection, developing all sorts of illness and pain. The sister then said this: “God can’t bear seeing mankind toyed with and afflicted by Satan. He’s incarnated twice to redeem and save mankind. The first time, He was incarnated as the Lord Jesus, crucified as a sin offering for mankind, to redeem us from sin. By believing in the Lord Jesus, our sins are forgiven but our sinful nature remains and we still aren’t completely free of sin. God has once again incarnated amongst man in the last days to express the truth and do the work of judgment and cleansing so that we can be fully saved from Satan, cast off sin, and be cleansed, until finally we’re led into God’s kingdom. By reading more of God’s words we can understand the truth and have discernment. We’ll understand just how Satan corrupts man and see through to its evil essence. We can then reject Satan and escape its influence, then it can’t toy with or harm us anymore.” I was thrilled to hear that God had personally come to save us. I really didn’t want Satan to go on harming me like that, but I didn’t quite get exactly how it was harming me, so I asked the sisters: “I’ve worked so hard to be a cut above the rest and stand out, but it’s left me in unbearable pain. Is it Satan that’s done this to me?”
Sister Zhang then read some of Almighty God’s words related to my question. “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?” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). “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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI).
After reading God’s words, she fellowshiped on the truth of how Satan uses fame and gain to corrupt man. Only then did I realize how hateful Satan is! Satan uses formal education and social influences to indoctrinate us with its rules for life, like “No pain, no gain,” “If you want to appear dignified when people are looking, you have to suffer when they aren’t,” and “Money makes the world go round.” Deceived by these life rules, people feel they can’t live without money, that once they get rich, others will look up to them and they’ll have dignity, and that being poor means being worth less. That’s why people struggle all their lives for money, fame and gain, and even go to any lengths to achieve them, regardless of the consequences. People become more corrupt and their lives become more painful. This is the shackle Satan uses to bind us, and it is also Satan’s ruse for corrupting us. Striving to be a cut above the rest, to earn more money so that others would think highly of me, I’d become a money-making machine. My desires grew, I was never satisfied, and I was forced to stop only when I’d ruined my own health. I’d become a slave to money, fame and gain. The pursuit of fame and gain had really made my life so hard, so exhausting! Seeking that all those years, I’d been overwhelmed by pain and ended up injured. All that suffering came from being harmed and corrupted by Satan! Without the revelations of God’s words, I’d never have known Satan uses money, fame and gain to corrupt people, much less that fame and gain are Satan’s shackle on man.
Sister Qin came to fellowship with me a lot after that. Over time, I started to see the tactics Satan uses to corrupt man. I also came to understand what was most important: reading God’s words, pursuing the truth, and obeying God’s rule and arrangements. That’s the most meaningful, happy way to live, and the only way that God commends!
One day, I found out that I had a colleague who had come to Japan with her husband to go all out to make money. Although they’d earned some money, her husband’s health later suffered and he had to return to China for treatment. He ended up diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Their family lived in terror and sorrow. Through her misfortune, I deeply felt our fragility and the preciousness of life. Without life, what good is more money? Can money buy life? Afterward, I read this in Almighty God’s word: “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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). God’s words allowed me to better see that if we don’t believe in God or understand the truth, we can’t see through Satan’s schemes, and we can’t see that Satan uses money and fame to corrupt people. We’re sucked into this whirlpool that we can’t get out of. We’re fooled and harmed by Satan in spite of ourselves, and even ruin our own lives. It’s so tragic. Thanks to my faith and reading so many of God’s words, I’ve finally come to understand these things. If I didn’t have faith or read God’s words, I never could have cast off Satan’s corruption. I’d just be struggling in darkness and pain with no way out.
While I was injured, sisters from the church checked on me a lot and helped ease my pain. They also did housework and looked after me like I was their own family. Out in a foreign country, I was so deeply moved by how attentively the sisters cared for me. I felt even more grateful to Almighty God. With God’s care and protection, I was better before I knew it.
I read this in Almighty God’s word later: “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 a person has a negative attitude toward fate, it proves that they are resisting everything that God has arranged for them, that they do not have a submissive attitude. 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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). The word of God is so practical, each sentence speaks to the bottom of my heart. I understand from God’s word that God is the Creator and we are His creatures. Every person’s life is in God’s hands, under His control and arrangement. Everything we get in life is under God’s control and is preordained by Him. Rushing about here and there is certainly not a deciding factor. However much God bestows on us is how much we get. If God doesn’t bestow something on us, no matter how much we work it’ll be in vain. It is just like the sayings “Man plants the seed, but Heaven decides the harvest” and “Man proposes, God disposes.” We should submit to the Creator’s rule and arrangements in our lives. This is the secret to happiness in life! I also realized that money and position are worldly possessions. By devoting ourselves to the pursuit of fame and gain, all we get in the end is emptiness and pain. Ultimately we’re consumed by Satan. I thought back on how I’d lived by satanic philosophies like “No pain, no gain,” and I’d pursued money and fame. I thought that I could have a happy life, and be thought highly of and envied by others, but I hadn’t expected that what I would obtain instead was pain and bitterness, I didn’t have any peace or happiness. Now that I’ve read God’s words, I understand God’s will. I don’t want to fight my destiny anymore, and I really don’t want to pursue fame and gain. That’s not the life I want anymore. I resolved to take on a different way of life, and all I wanted was to put the rest of my life into God’s hands for Him to arrange, to strive to obey God and perform my duty.
To make more time for my faith and to attend gatherings, I gave up my old job and got a new, easier job. I often read the word of God when I’m not at work, and the more I read the more my heart is brightened. I’ve also learned the source of man’s sinning, I understand how God saves mankind step by step, what man should live for, and how he should live a meaningful life. I get together with brothers and sisters often to share our experiences and learn to sing hymns of God’s words. My life is so happy now. I don’t earn as much as I used to, but I feel a sense of peace and stability I never had before. Looking back on it now, I gained blessing through misfortune! This truly is His salvation for me.