2. Faith: The Source of Strength
Last summer I was looking into the work of Almighty God in the last days online. The brothers and sisters fellowshiped lots of truth with me, like how the Lord returns, how to listen for God’s voice and welcome the Lord, how to tell the true Christ from false ones, the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan, and other aspects of the truth of vision. I also read lots of Almighty God’s word. After two months of consideration, I saw that the word of Almighty God is the truth, that these words unlock the mysteries of the Bible, and I became certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. I happily accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. I couldn’t wait to tell my family the good news about the Lord’s return to bring them all before God. But before I could share the gospel with them, I was notified that I had to return to the army.
I shared the gospel with my wife and mother later, over the phone. One day, I was talking with my wife about how to welcome the Lord, and she asked me, “Is this ‘Eastern Lightning’ that you believe in? The pastor says those people abandon their families. You should give up this faith.” Hearing her say that made me feel upset and angry. I told her, “Don’t be a fool. How can you just blindly believe what the pastor says? Is there any factual basis for him saying that? I’ve believed in Almighty God for over four months. Have I abandoned you? I don’t care about family? I just know the CCP is madly arresting and persecuting believers, making it difficult for many brothers and sisters to return home, and even splitting lots of believers’ families apart. How could the pastor twist the facts to say the brothers and sisters don’t want their families? Those are all lies. You mustn’t blindly listen to their rumors and lies.” I went on, saying, “A reasonable person should do some seeking on the topic of the Lord’s coming and see if the words proclaimed by Almighty God are the voice of God. The Lord Jesus also said, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). God’s sheep hear His voice, so we should look into anything regarding the Lord’s return and listen for His voice so that we may welcome Him. God’s words are the truth—they’re powerful and authoritative. They couldn’t have come from any person. I’ve determined that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned because I’ve seen that all His words are the truth, that they’re God’s voice.” But she wouldn’t listen at all. All I could do was just end the call. I called her again a couple weeks later, but she just turned her phone off and wouldn’t answer me. Then as soon as it was time for the evening gathering, she started calling me over and over. I couldn’t settle down in the gathering or get any enlightenment from God’s words because I was being disturbed. I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me through the situation. After praying, I thought that even though I didn’t yet understand God’s will in these matters, I had to have faith. I couldn’t be constrained by these things, and had to focus on the gathering. I felt a little calmer after this. One day, to my surprise, my wife suddenly called me and said, “You bought a cellphone to listen to Eastern Lightning’s preaching, but now our son is sick and we don’t have money left for his treatment. You should think about our child.” I clearly understood that she was only saying this because she didn’t want me to believe in God. In reality, we could borrow the money if we needed it, and it’s completely normal for children to get sick. He would have gotten sick whether I was a believer or not. I want the best for him too. How could my wife misunderstand me in that way? Seeing her use our child’s illness as an excuse to keep me from my faith was really upsetting for me. Before I could say anything, she went on, “If you keep believing in this, we may not even be a family in the future.” It was heart-wrenching to hear my wife say this. Would she really want a divorce while our child was still so small? I felt awful and just hung up without saying anything more. But what she’d said just kept bothering me and I couldn’t help but start complaining: Why hadn’t God protected our son’s health and our family harmony?
For a while, I couldn’t calm myself before God in gatherings and I didn’t have any enlightenment for fellowship on God’s word. So I prayed to God: “God, my stature is small. I’ve been feeling negative and weak since my wife said those things. Please stay with me and guide me to understand Your will.” That evening I read a passage of God’s words: “While undergoing trials, it is normal for people to be weak, or to have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, just like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take them all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. In your experience, no matter what refinement you undergo through God’s words, what God requires of mankind, in brief, is their faith and their love for Him. What He perfects by working in this way is people’s faith, love, and aspirations. God does the work of perfection on people, and they cannot see it, cannot feel it; under such circumstances, your faith is required. People’s faith is required when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you do not have clarity about God’s work, what is required of you is to have faith and to take a firm stance and stand witness. When Job reached this point, God appeared to him and spoke to him. That is, it is only from within your faith that you will be able to see God, and when you have faith God will perfect you. Without faith, He cannot do this” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). God’s words showed me that the path of faith and entry into His kingdom isn’t all smooth sailing. There are all sorts of hardships and trials, and lots of things we don’t like will happen. But we have to go through all this to reveal whether we have faith in God, and whether we can bear resounding witness for Him. Thinking back on when my wife was first opposing my faith in Almighty God, I had the faith to keep bearing witness to her. But when she started threatening divorce and our kid got sick, I couldn’t help but start complaining. I felt God was not protecting my family’s harmony, or keeping my child from illness. I saw I didn’t have true faith in God. A couple of things hadn’t turned out the way I had wanted and I started blaming God—how was that testimony? Then I started wondering: Why would I lose faith in God the moment something happened to my family? Why couldn’t I help but blame Him?
Later, I read a passage of God’s words that gave me some understanding of my views about pursuit in my faith. Almighty God says, “Today, you do not believe the words I say, and you pay no attention to them; when the day comes for this work to spread and you see the entirety of it, you will regret, and at that time you will be dumbfounded. There are blessings, yet you do not know to enjoy them, and there is the truth, yet you do not pursue it. Do you not bring contempt upon yourself? Today, although the next step of God’s work has yet to begin, there is nothing exceptional about the demands that are made of you and what you are asked to live out. There is so much work, and so many truths; are they not worthy of being known by you? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of awakening your spirit? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of making you hate yourself? Are you content to live under the influence of Satan, with peace and joy, and a little fleshly comfort? Are you not the lowliest of all people? None are more foolish than those who have beheld salvation but do not pursue to gain it; these are people who gorge themselves on the flesh and enjoy Satan. You hope that your faith in God will not entail any challenges or tribulations, or the slightest hardship. You always pursue those things that are worthless, and you attach no value to life, instead putting your own extravagant thoughts before the truth. You are so worthless! … What you pursue is to be able to gain peace after believing in God, for your children to be free from illness, for your husband to have a good job, for your son to find a good wife, for your daughter to find a decent husband, for your oxen and horses to plow the land well, for a year of good weather for your crops. This is what you seek. Your pursuit is only to live in comfort, for no accidents to befall your family, for the winds to pass you by, for your face to be untouched by grit, for your family’s crops to not be flooded, for you to be unaffected by any disaster, to live in God’s embrace, to live in a cozy nest. A coward such as you, who always pursues the flesh—do you have a heart, do you have a spirit? Are you not a beast? I give you the true way without asking for anything in return, yet you do not pursue. Are you one of those who believe in God? I bestow real human life upon you, yet you do not pursue. Are you no different from a pig or a dog? Pigs do not pursue the life of man, they do not pursue being cleansed, and they do not understand what life is. Each day, after eating their fill, they simply sleep. I have given you the true way, yet you have not gained it: You are empty-handed. Are you willing to continue in this life, the life of a pig? What is the significance of such people being alive? Your life is contemptible and ignoble, you live amid filth and licentiousness, and you do not pursue any goals; is your life not the most ignoble of all? Do you have the gall to look upon God? If you continue to experience in this way, will you not acquire nothing? The true way has been given to you, but whether or not you can ultimately gain it depends on your own personal pursuit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). From God’s words I saw that my goal and perspectives in faith were wrong, that they were not in pursuit of the truth, rather, they were for my family to be well and safe, and for our lives to be easy. I just wanted to live in God’s embrace and enjoy His grace. When I received His grace, I had the faith to follow Him, but when there were problems at home, and when my child was sick, I blamed God for the absence of His protection. I lost faith, and even felt wronged about what was happening to me, feeling like God should bless me for my faith, and keep me from encountering these kinds of things. Then I realized my faith was entirely built on receiving blessings and simply didn’t stand up to being tested. Having faith and worshiping God is right and natural. It’s like children being devoted to their parents—we shouldn’t be transactional with God. But I was always trying to get things out of God, to get His grace. I didn’t have any conscience or reason. Was I not exactly the sort of person God was talking about—without heart or spirit? How could that kind of faith be in line with His will? At that point, I saw that these undesirable things had happened with God’s permission. Going through all this was exposing my incorrect perspectives on faith, allowing me to reflect and know myself through God’s words, change my wrong ideas, and gain true faith in God. That was God’s purification and salvation for me. I gained faith once I understood God’s will. I didn’t want to keep pursuing familial peace, grace, and blessings. I needed to keep attending gatherings. I resolved that no matter what happened in the future, I would always keep pursuing the truth.
I read another passage of God’s words after that in my devotionals: “What does this word, ‘faith,’ refer to? Faith is the genuine belief and the sincere heart that humans should possess when they cannot see or touch something, when God’s work does not align with human notions, when it is beyond human reach. This is the faith that I speak of. People are in need of faith during times of hardship and refinement, and faith is something that is followed by refinement; refinement and faith cannot be separated. No matter how God works, and no matter your environment, you are able to pursue life and seek the truth, and seek knowledge of God’s work, and have an understanding of His actions, and you are able to act according to the truth. Doing so is what it is to have true faith, and doing so shows that you have not lost faith in God. You can only have true faith in God if you are able to persist in pursuing the truth through refinement, if you are able to truly love God and do not develop doubts about Him, if no matter what He does you still practice the truth to satisfy Him, and if you are able to seek in the depths for His will and be considerate of His will” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). I learned from God’s words that whether a situation is favorable or undesirable, we can’t doubt or blame God. We have to seek God’s will, stand on His side, and practice according to His words. We have to be able to follow God and practice the truth to satisfy Him, no matter how much we suffer. Only this is true faith. This understanding gave me a path of practice and the faith to follow God.
One day, I gave my mother a call and asked her if my wife was okay. She said, “She spends her days at her parents’ house and doesn’t take care of things at home. She seems like a totally different person.” My mother also told me, “The pastor says you are on the wrong path, that your faith in Almighty God is a betrayal of the Lord Jesus. He told me to get you to go back to the church, and to give up Eastern Lightning.” I was so angry when I heard that and thought: “Why would the clergy say those words? It was because of their deceptive rumors that my wife opposed my faith in God. I can’t let them constrain me. I won’t listen to them, no matter what they say.” After thinking it through, I urged my mother, “Don’t listen to those things the clergy were saying. Almighty God has spoken so many truths, and His voice is the voice of God Himself. Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. He and the Lord Jesus are the same God, so my faith in Almighty God isn’t a betrayal of the Lord Jesus. It’s following the Lamb’s footsteps and welcoming the arrival of the Lord.” She didn’t say anything in response after this.
Then one evening, I gave my wife a call. She said angrily, “Why are you calling me? I thought you didn’t want a family anymore. Make a choice. Eastern Lightning or our family? It’s fine if you don’t think of me, but you need to think of our child. He’s just eight months old.” Hearing my wife say this was really upsetting. I thought: “I’m just attending gatherings and reading God’s words. I am on the right path. I never said I don’t want our family or that I don’t care about her and our son. Why is she forcing me into this kind of choice?” Then it occurred to me, “She doesn’t know what faith in God is, and won’t listen no matter what I say. But having me give up my faith simply isn’t possible. I am already certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, so I know I’ll keep following Almighty God no matter what she says.” When she saw I wasn’t responding, she just hung up. Though at the time, the things my wife said were disruptive for me, I knew that I couldn’t complain and blame God like before. I had to have faith, to rely on God to get through this. Then I heard a hymn of God’s words called “You Should Forsake All for the Truth”:
1 You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment.
2 You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!
—Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
God’s words bolstered my faith. I knew that as a believer, pursuing the truth is the only meaningful way to live and that I couldn’t lose my faith over some troubles at home or carnal discomfort. Lacking faith and not worshiping God would be a life without meaning or value. I shouldn’t be constrained by my family. My family and my child’s health were all in God’s hands, so I should entrust these things to God, and submit to His sovereignty and arrangements. I should pursue the truth, and do my duty as well as I could.
After a while, I had to go back home to get my ID card renewed because it was about to expire. I was very excited because I felt like this was a good chance to share the gospel with my family. But I was also worried because my wife and mother were both against my faith in Almighty God, and everyone in my hometown knew that I believed in Almighty God. If the local clergy knew I was back, they’d definitely try to stand in my way. I had no idea what might happen once I went back. So I prayed out to God, saying, “Oh God! I want to share the gospel with my family on this trip home, but the clergy have been interfering and my family oppose me. I’m afraid they won’t listen to my fellowship. God, please be with me and open up a path for me.” Then I heard a hymn of God’s words “Follow God’s Words and You Cannot Be Lost”:
2 With every person, matter, and thing you encounter, God’s word will appear to you at any time, guiding you to act according to His will. Do all things in God’s word, and God shall lead you forward in each of your acts; you shall never go astray, and you shall be able to live in a new light, with even more and newer enlightenments. You cannot use human notions to mull over what to do; you should submit to the guidance of God’s word, have a clear heart, be quiet before God, and do more pondering. Do not fret for solutions to what you do not understand; bring such matters before God more often, and offer to Him a sincere heart.
3 Believe that God is your almighty. You must have a tremendous aspiration for God, ravenously seeking while refusing Satan’s excuses, intentions, and tricks. Do not despair. Do not be weak. Seek with all your heart; wait with all your heart. Actively cooperate with God, and rid yourself of your internal hindrances.
—Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
Listening to this hymn, I understood that God’s will was within this trip back home. It was just that I had little faith in God and didn’t understand His will. But I had to rely on God to get through. The part of God’s words “Believe that God is your almighty” really stuck out for me. God’s words bolstered my faith. Whatever I run into every day is what God allows. As long as I truly rely on and look to God, I believe He’ll guide me to face all of it with His words.
When I first got home my wife just ignored me. I knew that was only because of the pastor’s misleading influence on her. I had to find a chance to bear witness to her about God’s work in the last days so she would know the truth and no longer be misled by the pastor. I prayed to God, asking for His guidance. Then I patiently shared some heartfelt words with her. I said, “You and mom really should look into Almighty God’s work in the last days and listen to His words. Then you can be certain that this is God’s voice, that it’s God’s words for mankind. If you don’t investigate it and listen to God’s own voice, but instead listen to the clergy’s rumors and lies, how will you welcome the Lord? The Lord Jesus once said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). The Lord is trustworthy. As long as we truly seek, we will be able to hear the Lord’s voice and welcome His return.” My wife said nothing in response to this. I saw that she was just listening calmly and she didn’t seem as resistant and argumentative as before. I thanked God from the heart, this was His guidance, and this gave me the confidence to keep telling them about God’s work.
The next day, I gave testimony to God’s appearance and work to both my wife and my mother. I said, “Do you know why I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days? Because I read Almighty God’s words and saw it’s all the truth, that it’s the voice of God, and I became certain that He’s the returned Lord Jesus. In the last days, Almighty God has spoken millions of words, revealing to us all the mysteries of His 6,000-year management plan and of the Bible, as well as how mankind has developed up to the present day, how Satan has corrupted us, how God works step by step to save humanity, how He determines our outcomes and final destinations, what sort of person can be fully saved and enter the kingdom of heaven, and who will be punished. Almighty God has told us all of these mysteries and truth and more. Almighty God has also told us the truth of how man came to be corrupted by Satan and the root of our resistance to God. What’s more, He’s shown us the path to have our sins fully cleansed. Every single word is the truth, and it’s all so powerful and authoritative. Almighty God has proclaimed all of this to purify and transform us, to completely save us from Satan’s influence. Who do you think can express truths and reveal mysteries? Who can purify and save people? Only God can! People don’t possess the truth. Only Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. You should thoroughly read Almighty God’s words, then you’ll see that Almighty God speaks the truth, that it’s the voice of God, and that He is the Lord Jesus returned! If you hear someone relay that the Lord has returned and don’t look into it, and just casually judge and condemn it because of what the pastor says, you’ll ruin your chance at welcoming the Lord, and will lose the eternal salvation of God. That would be a terrible shame!” Hearing that, my mom said, “Yes, you’re right. God created mankind, so we should listen to what God says, not other people.” When I heard her say that, I gave thanks to God. Then she went on to tell me, “Once I asked the pastor to pray for something in our family, but he said, ‘Your son doesn’t listen to us. He didn’t get our permission to follow Almighty God. You utterly disregard us, so don’t ask us for any more help with your family affairs, handle these matters yourselves.’” Hearing this, I said angrily, “As clergy members, they should lead the brothers and sisters to investigate any news of the Lord’s return. Not only do they refuse to do that, but they threaten us, and keep us from hearing God’s voice and from welcoming the Lord. What are their real motives? Aren’t they just trying to keep everyone tightly in their own grasp? The Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees: ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, the Pharisees madly made up rumors, opposed and condemned Him so that they could keep hold of their status and livelihoods. They misled the believers and obstructed them from following the Lord, and eventually ended up having the Lord Jesus crucified, after which they were cursed and punished by God. Today’s clergy are just like the Pharisees. They fear the believers will believe in Almighty God and that they will lose their status and livelihoods, so they do their utmost to keep believers from hearing the word of the Lord and welcoming Him. They’re acting as enemies of God! They’ll ultimately be cursed and punished, too.”
Then I gave them fellowship about how we have to listen for the Lord’s voice to welcome Him, and that that’s the only way to be a wise virgin and greet the Lord. Then I urged them, “I truly hope you thoroughly look into and listen to the words of Almighty God, to see if they really are the voice of God. I’d hate to see you misled and controlled by the clergy. You need to learn to have discernment.” My mother then said, “You’re right. Before I’d always only listened to our clergy, afraid you were taking the wrong path. That’s why I tried to keep you from believing in Almighty God. But I see your fellowship is biblically sound, and things really aren’t the way the clergy portrayed them. I’ll look into it.” My wife had been listening intently throughout this. After that, I read lots of Almighty God’s words to them, then fellowshiped on things like the difference between following God and following man, why God is doing His judgment work of the last days in the flesh now, and the significance of God’s judgment work in the last days. After a few sessions of fellowship, both of them accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. I thanked God when I saw both of them come before Him.
One time, my wife opened up to me. She said, “I was oppressive toward you before, and even pushed you toward divorce, all because I listened to the pastor. Every time I went to church, he’d tell me you were on the wrong path and told me to urge you to turn back. I thought what he was saying was true, so I was constantly arguing with you and I wouldn’t listen to you at all. But over this time of reading Almighty God’s words and hearing your fellowship, I’ve seen it’s totally different from what the pastor had told me. Thinking back on my attitude toward God’s new work really scares me. I was fighting against God, and nearly lost my chance to welcome the Lord’s coming. I shouldn’t have believed what the pastor was telling me and I shouldn’t have oppressed you. I’m truly sorry.” When I heard my wife say that, I was so moved. I nearly started crying and thanked Almighty God from the bottom of my heart!
Through undergoing all that, I experienced God’s heartfelt efforts to save mankind. He allowed difficult things to happen to me to expose my corruption and shortcomings, and to perfect my faith in Him. Though sometimes I suffered and felt weak, and felt tormented, God never left my side, and always guided me with His words. This helped me understand my mistaken views about faith, see through the schemes and disruptions of Satan, and learn some truths. This strengthened my faith in God. It was all God’s guidance! Thank God!