Adulterations in My Sacrifices for God
By Jiang Ping, China
One day last April, I suddenly felt this terrible back pain on the right side. I thought I’d ricked it somehow, so I didn’t think too much of it, figuring I could put a medicinal patch on and be fine. But the patch didn’t do anything. My back pain just got worse. It was like being stabbed with a needle—it was a piercing pain all the way from my chest through to my back. When it got bad, it felt like something clawing at my flesh and bones. The pain was so intense, I really can’t describe it. It even hurt too much to sleep quite a few nights. I felt like I couldn’t physically take it anymore and wanted to go see a doctor, but I’d just set up a meeting to share the gospel with some people. Going for a checkup would definitely delay that. I figured I’d go in a few days, after meeting with them, and besides, it was all in God’s hands. I just needed to keep doing my duty, and I might feel better after a few days. I steeled myself to the pain, and went to the hospital after that meeting. The doctor I saw said to me very gravely, “Why’d you wait so long to come in? This is no small matter. This is shingles caused by a virus, and it’s internal shingles. It’s already showing on the skin. If you don’t get immediate treatment and the virus enters your bone marrow, it could even be fatal.” I was really taken aback. I’d never imagined it was something so serious, that it could even cost me my life. I thought, “I’ve been eagerly sharing the gospel and doing my duty for the last few years, so how could this happen to me? I’ve also left my home and career behind to do my duty, and I’ve suffered and paid a price. I never betrayed God, even when I was arrested and brutally tortured by the Communist Party. I’ve kept doing my duty after prison. Why isn’t God protecting me?” I got more upset as I thought about it. I was fighting off tears, and I felt an emptiness in my heart. It’s a chronic condition, so the only way to control it is with medication. Things were pretty busy at the church, too, so I kept doing my duty while receiving treatment. When I was out on my bicycle, any bump in the road would put me in agonizing pain. Sometimes I’d break out in a sweat, and there’d be times I was hit with a sudden bout of pain and couldn’t even sit still. I’d lie down when I got home from my duty, feeling like I didn’t have a drop of strength and couldn’t talk at all.
I knew that this was happening to me with God’s permission. I was praying and seeking, and reflecting on what I might have been doing that wasn’t in line with God’s will, but I was still clinging to this shred of hope that as long as I saw my mistake and kept doing my duty, God might just heal me. But two months went by in no time, and I wasn’t any better. I was feeling worried. I’d been unwell for so long—what would I do if it never got better? Plus I’d never stopped doing my duty. I kept sharing the gospel even when I was sick, so why wasn’t God healing me? I felt more wronged and more upset as I thought about it. If I never recovered, the day might come that I couldn’t even do a duty anymore. I wouldn’t be able to do good deeds, so how could I be saved then? I wondered if everything I’d given over the years would be in vain. I figured I should save my energy for my health and see how things went. I didn’t put my heart into my duty as much after that. In our group gatherings, I’d just perfunctorily ask about potential gospel targets, and if no one needed my help, I’d go home and get some rest. I was really afraid of wearing myself out and getting sicker. During that time, I was totally preoccupied with my illness, and I was in a really depressed state. I wasn’t gaining any light from, and my fellowship in gatherings was really dry. I felt really distant from God. In my pain, I prayed to God, “Oh God! I’m really miserable, and feeling so weak. I don’t have any drive for my duty, and I’m even resentful of You. Please guide me to understand Your will. I want to submit, reflect on myself, and learn a lesson.”
I read this passage of God’s words in my seeking: “First, when people begin to believe in God, which of them does not have their own aims, motivations, and ambitions? Even though one part of them believes in the existence of God and has seen the existence of God, their belief in God still contains those motivations, and their ultimate aim in believing in God is to receive His blessings and the things they want. … Every person constantly makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, ambitions, and a transactional mentality. This is to say, in his heart man is constantly testing God, constantly devising plans about God, constantly arguing the case for his own individual end with God, and trying to extract a statement from God, seeing whether or not God can give him what he wants. At the same time as pursuing God, man does not treat God as God. Man has always tried to make deals with God, ceaselessly making demands of Him, and even pressing Him at every step, trying to take a mile after being given an inch. At the same time as trying to make deals with God, man also argues with Him, and there are even people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often become weak, passive and slack in their work, and full of complaints about God. From the time when man first began to believe in God, he has considered God to be a cornucopia, a Swiss Army knife, and he has considered himself to be God’s greatest creditor, as if trying to get blessings and promises from God were his inherent right and obligation, while God’s responsibility were to protect and care for man, and to provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of ‘belief in God’ of all those who believe in God, and such is their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in). I felt really guilty when I pondered God’s words. I simply wasn’t treating God as God in my faith, but I just wanted blessings from Him. I’d been treating God like a Swiss Army knife, like a cornucopia ever since becoming a believer, thinking that as long as I kept expending myself for God, He’d definitely keep me safe and sound, that I’d never face illness or tragedy, and I’d get to escape disasters of all kinds. I’d end up saved, with a beautiful destination. I’d left my family and career behind to do my duty for years, I had suffered and given a lot, and I never pulled back, even when I was arrested and tortured by the CCP. But when I got sick, especially when I saw that my health problems were dragging on, I blamed God and tried to reason with Him. I was calculating all my suffering, thinking that everything I’d given had been a waste, and I started slacking off in my duty. I saw that all my years of faith weren’t to gain the truth and obey God, but to exchange my suffering and hard work for God’s grace and blessings. I wanted to apply a human transactional perspective to God. Wasn’t that just cheating and using God? I was so selfish and despicable! I thought about how God is saving mankind. He’s given us so many words to sustain us, and He even sets up all sorts of situations for us to experience His work so we can get rid of our corruption and be saved. But I didn’t know I needed to repay God’s love. Instead I just used God and was always calculating. When He didn’t do what I wanted, I started going through the motions in my duty, and not caring. I wasn’t being genuine with God at all. I really didn’t have any conscience or reason! I came before God and prayed, “God, I’ve been using You and cheating You in my faith. I’m so selfish and lowly. I’m barely even human! God, I want to repent to You. Please guide me.”
I read a passage from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth”: “In many cases, the trials of God are burdens He gives to people. However great the burden bestowed upon you by God, that is the weight of burden you should undertake, for God understands you, and knows you will be able to bear it. The burden given to you by God will not exceed your stature or the limits of your endurance, so there is no question that you will be able to bear it. No matter what manner of burden God gives you, what kind of trial, remember one thing: Whether or not you understand God’s will and whether or not you are enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit after you pray, whether or not this trial is God disciplining you or warning you, it does not matter if you do not understand. As long as you do not cease performing the duty that you ought to perform and can faithfully abide by your duty, God will be satisfied, and you will stand firm in your testimony. … If, in your faith in God and pursuit of the truth, you are able to say, ‘Whatever sickness or disagreeable event God allows to befall me—no matter what God does—I must obey, and stay in my place as a created being. Before all else, I must put this aspect of the truth—obedience—into practice, I implement it, and live out the reality of obedience to God. Moreover, I must not cast aside what God has commissioned to me and the duty I should perform. Even on my last breath, I must abide by my duty.’ Is this not bearing testimony? When you have this kind of resolve and this kind of state, are you still able to complain about God? No, you are not” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Pondering God’s words, I was able to understand His will. It doesn’t matter what kind of hardships I encounter—it’s all permitted by God, and He’s giving me a load to bear that I should accept and obey, and I should stand witness. I thought of Peter, who was able to obey God no matter what happened. He suffered through illness and lived with deprivation, but he was always devoted to God and never complained. I needed to take the place of a created being like Peter, submit to whatever God sets up, and really learn a lesson. I kept on taking medication while also doing my duty, and I didn’t feel as constrained by my health. After a few months of gradual recovery, my condition disappeared. I was so grateful to God.
In September, one day I came home from sharing the gospel, and he had that look, like something was weighing on him. He told me he’d gone in for a regular checkup the day before, and the doctor told him to go back the next day for an MRI. Hearing this was really unsettling for me, because going in for an MRI isn’t standard. I wondered if he had something serious. I was tossing and turning that night. I couldn’t get any sleep. I tried consoling myself, thinking it probably wasn’t a big deal. He was also a believer, and I’d been doing a duty that took me out of the house, so God should protect him. I went to the hospital with him the next day. Surprisingly, it turned out that he had pancreatic cancer. I was absolutely stunned when I heard the news. I was shocked that it was cancer, and pancreatic cancer at that. I’d heard that’s really hard to treat and it progresses really rapidly. It also has a high mortality rate, and some people don’t even last a few months with it. He seemed full of life, but he might just have a few months left. I felt like the sky was coming crashing down. I thought, “I’ve just barely recovered and now my husband has cancer. Why isn’t God protecting us?” Whenever I thought about my husband’s cancer, I would just cry and cry. I prayed to God in my pain, asking Him to watch over my heart, and guide me to understand His will.
I read a passage in God’s words after that: “In their belief in God, what people seek is to obtain blessings for the future; this is their goal in their faith. All people have this intent and hope, but the corruption in their nature must be resolved through trials. In whichever aspects you are not purified, these are the aspects in which you must be refined—this is God’s arrangement. God creates an environment for you, forcing you to be refined there so that you can know your own corruption. Ultimately, you reach a point at which you would rather die and give up your schemes and desires, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangement. Therefore, if people do not have several years of refinement, if they do not endure a certain amount of suffering, they will not be able to rid themselves of the bondage of corruption of the flesh in their thoughts and in their hearts. In whichever aspects you are still subject to Satan’s bondage, and in whichever aspects you still have your own desires and your own demands, these are the aspects in which you should suffer. Only through suffering can lessons be learned, which means being able to gain truth, and understand God’s will. In fact, many truths are understood by experiencing painful trials. Nobody can comprehend God’s will, recognize God’s almightiness and wisdom, or appreciate God’s righteous disposition when in a comfortable and easy environment or when circumstances are favorable. That would be impossible!” (“How One Should Satisfy God Amidst Trials” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I reflected on myself in light of this. When I was sick, through the judgment of God’s words, I’d realized I’d had the wrong perspective, that I was pursuing blessings, and I was ready to submit whether I got better or not. I thought I’d let go of my drive to pursue blessings, but when my husband got cancer, I couldn’t help but blame and misunderstand God. I felt like God should protect us, since we’re believers. I saw how deeply entrenched my motivation for blessings was. I never would have realized that if God hadn’t exposed me that way. Then I realized that there was a lesson I needed to learn from my husband’s illness, and I had to stop blaming God. I calmly reflected on why I just couldn’t help but complain and misunderstand God when my husband got cancer, why I was still pursuing blessings and grace.
Later on, I saw a video of a reading of God’s words.says, “In the eyes of the antichrists, in their minds and the way they see things, there must be some benefits in following God, they will not bother to move without incentive. If there is no fame, gain, or status to be enjoyed, then there is no point in believing in God. The first benefits a person must gain are the promises and blessings spoken of in the words of God, and they must also enjoy fame, gain, and status within the church. Believers in God must stand out among others, and they must be special. The unbelievers should not receive these things, and the believers must enjoy them; if not, there is some question over whether this God is God. Does the logic of the antichrists not make a truth of the words that ‘Those who believe in God must enjoy the blessings and grace of God’? (Yes.) Are these words truth? These words are not truth, they are fallacy, they are the logic of Satan, and they bear no relation to the truth. Has God ever said, ‘If people believe in Me, they will surely be blessed; this is truth’? God has never said nor done this.
“When it comes to blessings and adversities, there is truth that can be sought. What are the wise words that people should adhere to? Job said, ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ (Job 2:10). Are these words truth? These are the words of a man; they must not be elevated to the heights of truth, though part of them does conform to truth. Which part of them conforms to the truth? Whether people are blessed or suffer adversity is all in the hands of God, it is all under the dominion of God. This is truth. Is this what the antichrists believe? (No.) Why do they not believe this, why do they not acknowledge it? As believers in God, the antichrists wish to be blessed, and to avoid adversity. When they see someone who is blessed, who has benefited, who has been graced, who has received great profits, and who has received more material comforts, better material treatment, they believe that this is done by God; if not, these are not the actions of God. The implication is, ‘If You are God, then You can only bless people; You cannot visit disaster or suffering upon them. Only then is there a value and a point to people believing in You. If, after following You, people are still beset by adversity, if they still suffer, then why should they believe in You?’ They do not admit that everything is in the hands of God, that God commands all. And why don’t they admit this? Because the antichrists fear adversity. They want only to benefit, to be favored, to be blessed; they wish not to accept God’s sovereignty or arrangements, but only to receive benefits from God. This is their selfish and despicable point of view” (“Excursus Two: How Noah and Abraham Listened to God’s Words and Obeyed God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). “All corrupt humans live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; they abandon things, expend themselves for Him, and are faithful to Him, but still they do all these things for their own sakes. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of gaining blessings for themselves. In society, everything is done for personal benefit; believing in God is solely done to gain blessings. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: This is all empirical evidence of man’s corrupt nature” (“The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words reveal antichrists’ perspective on blessings and misfortune. They’re going after blessings in their faith, and think that they should be blessed because of their faith. If that doesn’t happen, they think having faith is meaningless, and may even betray God and leave Him at any moment. I realized I had the same outlook on faith. I thought that since I’d made all those sacrifices, God should bless me and my family with peace and good health. So whether it was me or my husband getting sick, I blamed and misunderstood God. I even made unreasonable demands of Him, wanting Him to heal my virus and my husband’s cancer. As soon as God did something I didn’t like, I didn’t want to throw myself into my duty anymore. I realized how absurd my perspective on faith had been. The truth is that God’s never said that bad things won’t happen to believers. He rules over everything—birth, death, sickness and health are all in His hands, and believers are no exception. We not only receive blessings from God, but also misfortune. Doing a duty is the most basic thing a created being should do and has nothing to do with being blessed or not. But I was so deeply corrupted by Satan that things like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Never lift a finger without a reward” were satanic poisons that I lived by. I was just constantly thinking of my own interests, seeing God as something for me to use. I wanted to extort blessings from God in exchange for my suffering and hard work. When God did something that compromised my personal interests, I was full of complaints and misunderstandings toward Him, and even reasoned with Him and opposed Him. What kind of believer was I? I was a nonbeliever, a selfish, debased, petty person! I felt really scared when I realized this. I saw I hadn’t been focused on pursuing the truth in my faith, but just on pursuing grace and blessings. I was on a path against God. I’d never gain the truth that way, and my corrupt disposition wouldn’t change. I’d just end up eliminated! Then I really saw that God was using that situation to judge me and to expose me. If God hadn’t exposed me that way, I wouldn’t have seen my corruption and tainted faith. There’s no way I could have been cleansed and changed. I gave heartfelt thanks to God for His salvation.
There was another passage I read later, in the 5th paragraph of “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement.” “You may think that believing in God is about suffering, or doing all manner of things for Him; you might think that the purpose of believing in God is so that your flesh may be at peace, or so that everything in your life runs smoothly, or so that you may be comfortable and at ease in all things. However, none of these are purposes that people should attach to their belief in God. If you believe for these purposes, then your perspective is incorrect, and it is simply impossible for you to be perfected. God’s actions, God’s righteous disposition, His wisdom, His words, and His wondrousness and unfathomableness are all things people ought to understand. Having this understanding, you should use it to rid your heart of all personal demands, hopes, and notions. Only by eliminating these things can you meet the conditions demanded by God, and it is only by doing this that you can have life and satisfy God. The purpose of believing in God is to satisfy Him and to live out the disposition He requires, so that His actions and glory may be manifested through this group of unworthy people. This is the correct perspective for believing in God, and this is also the goal that you should seek” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me what I should be pursuing. I shouldn’t be going after blessings or any kind of benefit in my faith, but I should seek to know and satisfy God, to be like Job without any requests or demands of God. Job believed that everything he had was given by God, so whether God gave or took away, whether he had blessings or misfortune, he obeyed God unconditionally and praised His righteousness. So when Satan tested Job, all his possessions were stolen, his children died, he broke out in boils all over and sat in an ash heap scraping his body with tiles. He never complained about God, but kept praising His name. No matter what God did, Job stood in the place of a created being, submitting to God and worshiping Him. So Job’s faith deserves God’s praise. This understanding gave me a path of practice. Whether my husband got better or not, I had to submit to God without complaining.
I read this in God’s words later: “God has already fully planned the genesis, advent, lifespan, ending of all the creatures of God, as well as their life’s mission and the role they play in all mankind. No one can change these things; this is the authority of the Creator. The advent of every creature, how long they live, their life’s mission—all of these laws, every single one of them, is ordained by God, just as God ordained the orbit of every celestial body; which orbit these celestial bodies follow, for how many years, how they orbit, what laws they follow—this was all ordained by God long ago, unchanged for thousands, tens of thousands, of years. This is ordained by God, and this is His authority” (“Only by Seeking the Truth Can One Know God’s Deeds” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I saw from God’s words that our destiny, lifespan, and outcome are all in the Creator’s hands. God ordains when we die, and none of us can escape that. Before that time comes, even if we do get cancer, we still won’t die. This is God’s authority and no one can change that. Understanding that helped me relax a bit. I knew my husband’s health was in God’s hands, and all I could do was obey what God arranged and do my own duty. He got chemotherapy for a while at the hospital, and surprisingly, there were no cancer cells in his blood. All indicators were normal. Half the tumor was gone, too. The doctor said it was very rare to see a case like his, that was so well controlled. Our son said that his classmate’s dad had gotten the same cancer. He got chemo once and couldn’t take it, then died after a few months. I was so grateful to God when hearing all this. What made me happiest was that my husband had always been a believer in name only, always going after money, but after his cancer, he gained some understanding of God’s almightiness and sovereignty, and then he shared his testimony of God’s deeds with friends and relatives. I saw how practical God’s work to save mankind is. Going through all this was really painful at the time, but I learned a lesson and about myself, and corrected my pursuit in faith. This is God’s love and blessing! I just thought of aof God’s words, “You Should Seek to Have True Love for God.” “Today, to believe in the practical God, you must set foot on the right track. If you believe in God, you should not only seek blessings, but to love God and know God. Through His enlightenment, through your own individual seeking, you can eat and drink His word, develop a real understanding of God, and have a real love of God that comes from your inmost heart. In other words, when your love for God is most genuine, and no one can destroy or stand in the way of your love for Him, at this time you are on the right track in your belief in God. This proves that you belong to God, for your heart is already in God’s possession and nothing else can then take possession of you” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs).