Does Suffering a Disaster Have to Be a Bad Thing?

April 15, 2024

By Zheng Xin, China

On a day in July of 2023, I heard that Wang Hao, a brother from our church, suffered an accident and was seriously injured. He was sent to the hospital in a coma. Hearing this news, my heart skipped a beat. This brother had forsaken everything and followed God for many years. When he suffered severe leukemia while doing his duty, he didn’t blame God, receiving treatment while doing his duty as best he could. How could such a thing happen to him? Why didn’t God protect him? If he lost his life in this accident, wouldn’t that mean there’d be no good destination for him? After this, I was always hung up on this matter. It would often come to mind even when I was doing my duty. I hoped that God would protect this brother and enable him to avert death, so then I’d see that God gave special grace and blessings to those who forsook everything and followed Him. A few days later, I heard that Wang Hao’s condition was still critical. He was in a coma and even muttering deliriously. When I found out this news, it instantly put me in a heavy mood. If this brother died, wouldn’t that mean that a good destination was out of sight for him? Then, wouldn’t his forsaking and expending himself for all these years have been wasted? It looks like forsaking everything and doing one’s duty does not guarantee a good destination. Thinking of this, an inexplicable distress emerged in my heart. I couldn’t help but be worried about my future outcome and destination, thinking, “I have also forsaken my family, given up my career, and performed my duty for many years. If I suffer some calamity and die in the future, won’t I not gain any blessings at all?” Thinking up to there, I began to feel as though a massive rock was lodged in my heart; it was extremely heavy. For many days in a row, I couldn’t muster up any energy when doing my duty. I had planned to study the relevant principles to address my shortcomings in the work, but I no longer wanted to do it. I also put my work of training the gospel-spreading personnel to the side and didn’t want to bother with it. Because I didn’t promptly reverse some deviations, the gospel work was affected.

Those days, I was always sighing and felt very dejected. I developed notions toward God, and thought that even if I worked hard and expended myself, I wouldn’t necessarily receive a good outcome and destination. Although I was doing my duty on the surface, there was a wall between God and me in my heart. When I prayed, I had nothing on my mind to say to Him. Before long, I heard that Wang Hao had recovered very quickly and would soon be able to come do his duty. Receiving this news, I was extremely happy. The large rock stuck in my heart finally dropped to the ground, and my mood of dejection vanished in a flash. Seeing how God had protected this brother, I had faith in Him once again. I thought to myself, “God still graces and blesses those who sincerely expend themselves for Him. This fact can be seen in Wang Hao.” I regained my hope for a good future destination, and I became relaxed and cheerful and had energy when doing my duty.

Afterward, I reflected on myself, thinking, “Why has my state fluctuated so much during this time?” In my reflection, I thought of some of God’s words that I’d read before and so I sought them out to read. Almighty God says: “When some people see someone encountering difficulties, they immediately look out for themselves by putting themselves in that person’s shoes. Whenever they see someone encountering some kind of anguish, sickness, tribulation, or calamity, they immediately think of themselves and wonder, ‘If this happened to me, what would I do? It turns out that believers can still encounter these things and suffer these torments. So exactly what kind of God is He? If God is so inconsiderate of that guy’s feelings, will He treat me the same way? This shows that God is unreliable. At any place and any time, He sets up an unexpected environment for people, and can put them in embarrassing situations constantly, and in any circumstances.’ They are afraid that if they do not believe, they will not gain blessings, but that if they continue to believe, they will meet with disaster. In this way, when people pray before God, they merely say, ‘God, I beg You to bless me,’ and dare not say, ‘God, I ask that You test me, discipline me, and do as You will, I am willing to accept it’—they do not dare to pray like this. After experiencing a few setbacks and failures, people’s resolve and courage lessen, and they have a different ‘understanding’ of God’s righteous disposition, His chastisement and judgment, and His sovereignty, and also develop a sense of wariness toward God. In this way, there is a wall, an estrangement, between people and God. Is it okay for people to have these states? (No.) So do these states tend to develop within you? Does it happen that you live in these states? (Yes.) How should such problems be resolved? Is it okay not to seek the truth? If you don’t understand the truth and don’t have faith, it will be difficult for you to follow God to the end, and you will fall down whenever you encounter disasters and calamities, whether natural or man-made(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (11)). “Everyone who comes to believe in God is only ready to accept God’s grace, blessings, and promises, and only willing to accept His kindness and compassion. Yet no one is waiting or preparing to accept God’s chastisement and judgment, His trials and refinement, or His deprivation, and not a single person makes preparations to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, His deprivation, or His curses. Is this relationship between people and God normal or abnormal? (Abnormal.) Why do you say that it’s abnormal? Where does it fall short? It falls short in that people do not have the truth. It is because people have too many notions and imaginings, constantly misunderstand God, and do not fix these things by seeking the truth—this makes it most likely for problems to occur. In particular, people only believe in God for the sake of being blessed. They only want to strike a deal with God, and demand things from Him, but do not pursue the truth. This is very dangerous. As soon as they encounter something that is at odds with their notions, they immediately develop notions, grievances, and misunderstandings with respect to God, and can even go so far as to betray Him. Are the consequences of this serious? What path do most people walk in their faith in God? Though you may have listened to so many sermons and feel that you have come to understand quite a few truths, the fact is that you are still walking the path of believing in God only to eat your fill of bread. If your mind is already prepared to accept judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, and you have also mentally prepared yourself to suffer disaster, and if, no matter how much you expend for God and how much of a sacrifice you make in performing your duty, you really did face the trials of Job, and God deprived you of all your property, even to the point that your life were about to end, what would you do then? How should you deal with God’s sovereignty and arrangements? How should you deal with your duty? How should you deal with what God has entrusted to you? Do you have the correct understanding and the right attitude? Are these questions easy to answer or not? This is a great hurdle placed before you(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (11)). What God’s words spoke of was my exact state. Wang Hao had forsaken everything and expended himself for God for many years, and he also had a sense of burden in his duty, but when he suffered such a great calamity and was on the brink of death, I immediately thought of myself. I had also forsaken and expended myself for years, and if I met the same fate as Wang Hao for my faith in God, suffering a disaster instead of gaining blessings, what would I do then? In my heart, I complained against God, thinking, “Why does God not reward people who forsake and expend themselves and instead heartlessly bring them disaster?” The passion with which I had expended for God before disappeared in an instant. I didn’t want to seek the truth to resolve my deviations and shortcomings in my duty, and I didn’t bother with my work of cultivating people. I opposed and antagonized God in my heart. I complained about God when Wang Hao suffered a calamity because ever since I started to believe in God, I was doing it to receive blessings and grace. Now, once I saw that Wang Hao suffered a calamity instead of receiving these things after forsaking and expending himself, I immediately didn’t even want to do my duty. I shunned and guarded myself against God, opposing and antagonizing Him. My belief in God was the same as people in religion; it was in order to seek bread and satisfy hunger, and not to pursue the truth, fulfill the duty of a created being, or satisfy God. I also didn’t have true faith in or submission to God, and I couldn’t willingly place everything I had into God’s hands and let Him orchestrate and arrange. Wang Hao encountering these circumstances revealed my intentions of gaining blessings and the mistaken views in my pursuit. If I didn’t resolve these problems, if I suffered a calamity and was facing death one day, I would complain and do things that resist and offend God. If I did this to an unforgivable extent, then I ought to be punished. Thinking of this, I was somewhat afraid. I wanted to seek the truth and resolve my problems as quickly as possible.

Later, I read a passage of God’s words: “You believe that you are different, that God shows you special favor, and that if God casts out or forsakes anyone, it won’t be you. Are these thoughts right? (No.) Why are they not right? (It is not objective to think this way.) Do these words amount to true knowledge of God? Or is this being too subjective and speculative? Are people who have these thoughts people who pursue the truth? (No.) So can they truly submit to God? (No.) Are they ready to accept God’s chastisement, judgment, trials and refinement, and even His curses? (No.) What will they do when God’s chastisement and judgment, trials and refinement really happen to them? Will they develop notions or complain about God? Can they accept these things from God and truly submit? (No.) It would be hard to achieve, to say the very least. This is because they believe in God only to seek grace or to eat their fill of bread. They do not know that God also has wrath and majesty, and that God’s disposition cannot be offended. God treats everyone fairly, and when it comes to any created being, God’s disposition is compassion and love, but also majesty and wrath. In God’s dealings with each person, the compassion, love, majesty, and wrath in His righteous disposition are unchanging. God will never show compassion and love only to some people, and majesty and wrath only to others. God will never do this, because He is a righteous God, and He is fair to everyone. God’s compassion, love, majesty, and wrath exist for any person. He can bestow grace and blessings on people, and can give them protection. At the same time, God can also judge and chastise people, curse them, and take away all that He has given them. God can give to people, but He can also take everything away from them. This is God’s disposition, and this is what He must do with every person. Therefore, if you think, ‘I am precious in God’s eyes, like the apple of His eye. He absolutely cannot bear to chastise and judge me, and He absolutely will not have the heart to take away everything that He has given to me, lest I be upset and distressed,’ is this thinking not mistaken? Is this not a notion about God? (Yes.) So, before you come to understand these truths, do you not think only about enjoying God’s grace, compassion, and love? As a result, you keep forgetting that God also has majesty and wrath. Though your lips say that God is righteous, and you are able to thank and praise God when He shows you compassion and love, whenever God shows majesty and wrath in chastising and judging you, you feel very upset. ‘If only such a God didn’t exist,’ you think. ‘If only it wasn’t God who did this, if only God wasn’t targeting me, if only this wasn’t God’s intention, if only these things were done to others. Because I am a kind-hearted person, and I have done nothing bad, and I have paid a heavy price for believing in God for many years, God should not be so merciless. I should be entitled and qualified to enjoy God’s compassion and love, as well as God’s abundant grace and blessings. God will not judge or chastise me, and neither does He have the heart to do it.’ Is this just wishful and wrong thinking? (Yes.) In what way is it wrong? What’s wrong here is that you don’t regard yourself as a created being, as a member of created humanity. You mistakenly detach yourself from created humanity and regard yourself as belonging to a special group or type of created being, bestowing special status on yourself. Is this not arrogant and self-righteous? Is this not unreasonable? Is this a person who truly submits to God? (No.) Absolutely not(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (11)). I reflected on myself. My notion was that God should show mercy and love to those who truly believe in Him and are willing to forsake and expend themselves, that He should reward these people with grace and blessings. Meanwhile, when it came to those evil people and antichrists, as well as the nonbelievers and devils who resisted and blasphemed against Him, God should sternly judge and curse them and inflict severe punishment on them. Therefore, when I heard that Wang Hao had suffered a calamity and his survival was uncertain, my heart developed notions and I believed that God was unrighteous, thinking, “Wang Hao has forsaken and expended himself for God for many years, he always does important duties in the church, and he has a sense of burden; God shouldn’t let such a person suffer calamity.” I was so arrogant and without reason! I thought of Job, who was perfect in God’s eyes. God permitted Satan to afflict Job, and he lost everything, his whole body covered in sores. However, amidst this disaster and pain, Job still held onto his faith in and submission to God. He was firm in his faith that everything belonging to man comes from God. God can reward man and also deprive him; God’s name ought to be praised. Even though what happened to Job was a calamity in man’s eyes, God used this disaster to perfect Job’s faith and submission, revealing His righteousness and wisdom. Wang Hao suffering a calamity was also a test for him and his family. When he was in life-threatening condition, his parents trusted that this disaster was permitted by God, and were able to submit to His sovereignty and arrangement without complaint. Later, when he was unconscious more than 20 days after his injury, he miraculously woke up. I saw that God’s righteous disposition was not like I had imagined, continuously protecting people who sincerely believed in Him and not letting them suffer any disasters or pain. God uses disasters and trials to perfect people’s faith in and submission to Him. He also uses these things to make people experience and understand His authority and sovereignty. This is a special grace and blessing that God bestows upon people. However, I was blind and did not understand God’s work. I even demanded that God not let Wang Hao suffer calamity, or else I would complain that He was unrighteous. I was truly too arrogant and ignorant. Based on this sort of comprehension, if I suffered a disaster, I would complain against God, judge Him, resist Him, and offend His disposition. I realized that my problem was quite serious, and that I badly needed to seek the truth to resolve it.

Later, during my spiritual devotions, I read these words of God: “Antichrists do not treat the words of God with an attitude of acceptance and submission, so of course they cannot treat the requirement in His words that mankind do their duty as created beings with an attitude of accepting the truth. … So then how do they do their duty? There should be an account of this in everybody’s heart, and there should be some specific stories inside this account. So, what does this record in the heart of an antichrist look like? They make very fine, very accurate, very precise, and very diligent calculations, so it is not a muddled account. When they decide to do their duty, they first calculate: ‘If I am going to do my duty now, I will have to give up the joy of being together with family, and I will have to give up work and my worldly prospects. If I leave these things to do my duty, what can I gain? The words of God say that, in this final age, those who can meet God, who can do their duty in God’s house, and who can remain in the end are the ones who can gain great blessings. Seeing as God’s words say so, I suppose God can do it and accomplish it according to these words. Also, God makes a lot of promises to these people who can do their duty and can expend themselves for Him!’ Through studying the words of God, they pick out many promises made by God in the final age to people who do their duty, and this on top of their personal imaginings and all the notions created by their own analysis and study of these words creates a deep interest in and impulse toward doing their duty. Then they go before God to pray, making solemn pledges and oaths, and resolve that they are willing to forsake and expend everything for God, to dedicate this life to Him and give up all fleshly pleasures and prospects. Although they pray in this way and their words all seem correct, what they think deep down is known only to themselves and to God. Their prayers and their resolution seem pure, and it seems they are only doing this to fulfill God’s commission, to do their duty and satisfy God’s will, but deep in their hearts they are calculating how they can obtain blessings and obtain the things that they want through doing their duties, and what they can do to let God see all that they have paid and make Him deeply impressed by what they have paid and what they have done, so that He will remember what they have done and ultimately bestow on them all the prospects and blessings they want. … What is the antichrists’ intention in performing their duties? It’s to make a deal, to make an exchange. It could be said that these are the conditions they set for performing duty: ‘If I do my duty, then I must obtain blessings and have a good destination. I must obtain all the blessings and benefits that God has said are prepared for humankind. If I can’t obtain them, then I won’t do this duty.’ They come to the house of God to perform their duties with such intentions, ambitions, and desires. It seems like they do have some sincerity, and of course for those who are new believers and are just starting to perform duties, it can also be called enthusiasm. But there is no genuine faith or loyalty in this; there’s only that degree of enthusiasm. It can’t be called sincerity. Judging from this attitude antichrists have toward performing their duties, it is wholly transactional and filled with their desires for benefits like receiving blessings, entering the kingdom of heaven, obtaining a crown, and receiving rewards(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Seven)). God exposed that no matter what antichrists do, they always connect it to gaining blessings and to their prospects and fate. This was also my state. After starting to believe in God, I was able to forsake and expend myself a bit because I saw from God’s words that in the last days, God would save people and take them to a good destination. I thought that I couldn’t miss such a good opportunity, and so I actively did my duty, preparing good deeds to gain future blessings. Later on, my husband persecuted me and stood in the way of my belief in God. When choosing between God and my marriage and family, I considered, “If I choose family, even though I’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable life, fleshly enjoyments are temporary. Meanwhile, people who sincerely expend themselves for God can gain even greater blessings from Him. These blessings are everlasting, and if I miss this chance, I won’t receive them.” After thinking it over, in the end, I resolutely chose to follow God and do my duty. Especially during the coronavirus outbreak over the last few years, a great number of people died amidst the calamity. Those who didn’t believe in God and resisted Him could be destroyed by the great calamity at any time. Meanwhile, I was busily doing my duty every day, and despite how widely the coronavirus spread, I didn’t get infected. Seeing that God was protecting me, I became more energetic when doing my duty, and no matter how exhausted my flesh was, I persevered. I thought that doing this much meant that I was loyal to God, and that I would certainly receive His blessings in the future. However, Wang Hao’s accident did not comply with my notions, and it exposed my intentions. I believed that since Wang Hao forsook and expended himself for God, God shouldn’t let him suffer disasters. Even if he did, God should make sure he remained safe and sound, to let everyone see that He would protect and bless those who sincerely expended themselves for Him. This way, I would be guaranteed to receive blessings if I forsook and expended myself for many years. But after many days passed, and I heard that Wang Hao was still in a coma, I began to be disappointed in God. Aside from blaming God, I also complained in my heart that this wasn’t fair for Wang Hao. I even regretted forsaking and expending myself, and I didn’t want to do my duty. In forsaking and expending myself, I was not fulfilling a created being’s responsibility and obligation, but making an exchange with God to gain grace and blessings. I thought of how Paul’s forsaking and expending himself was to gain rewards and a crown. Thus, he ultimately said as a matter of course, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). Now, I saw that my views in my pursuit when believing in God were the same as Paul’s. I was not believing in order to pursue the truth, fulfill my duty, or satisfy God. Rather, I was using forsaking and expending myself to demand good blessings from God. This was full of interests and transactions. This way of expending myself was not sincere and loyal to God, but rather a way of cheating and using Him. I was truly too deceitful, too wicked! Now, the calamity was getting greater and greater. If I did not properly pursue the truth, reverse my mistaken pursuits, and resolve my corrupt disposition, I would resist and betray God when I encountered things that weren’t in line with my notions in the future, and ultimately, I would only get lost amidst the great calamity and be punished.

Later on, I often thought, “How should I practice so that I am doing my duty as a created being?” One day, I saw a passage of God’s words that gave me encouragement. God says: “Regardless of what duty one performs, it is the most proper thing they could do, the most beautiful and just thing among humankind. As created beings, people ought to perform their duty, as only then can they receive the approval of the Creator. Created beings live under the Creator’s dominion, and they accept all that is provided by God and everything that comes from God, so they should fulfill their responsibilities and obligations. This is perfectly natural and justified, and was ordained by God. From this it can be seen that, for people to perform the duty of a created being is more just, beautiful, and noble than anything else done while living on earth; nothing among humankind is more meaningful or worthy, and nothing brings greater meaning and worth to the life of a created person, than performing the duty of a created being. On earth, only the group of people who truly and sincerely perform the duty of a created being are those who submit to the Creator. This group does not follow worldly trends; they submit to the leadership and guidance of God, only listen to the words of the Creator, accept the truths expressed by the Creator, and live by the words of the Creator. This is the truest, most resounding testimony, and it is the best testimony of faith in God. For a created being to be able to perform the duty of a created being, to be able to satisfy the Creator, is the most beautiful thing among humankind, and is something that should be spread as a tale to be praised by all people. Anything the Creator entrusts to created beings should be unconditionally accepted by them; for humankind, this is a matter of both happiness and privilege, and for all those who are capable of performing the duty of a created being, nothing is more beautiful or worthy of commemoration—it is something positive. … As a created being, when one comes before the Creator, they ought to perform their duty. This is a very proper thing to do, and they should fulfill this responsibility. On the basis that created beings perform their duties, the Creator has done even greater work among humankind, and He has carried out a further stage of work on people. And what work is that? He provides humankind with the truth, allowing them to gain the truth from Him as they perform their duties and thereby to cast off their corrupt dispositions and be purified. Thus, they come to satisfy God’s will and embark on the right path in life, and, ultimately, they are able to fear God and shun evil, attain complete salvation, and no longer be subjected to Satan’s afflictions. This is the effect that God would have humankind achieve in the end by performing their duty(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Seven)). Pondering God’s words, I gained a bit of understanding regarding the duty and responsibility of a created being. In an age when all of humanity seeks enjoyment in the pursuit of worldly trends, that I have the chance to hear God’s voice, accept the watering and provision of His words, and understand many truths that I didn’t before is God’s grace and special favor to me. It is perfectly natural and justified to do my duty before the Creator, just as it is for a child to fulfill their responsibility before their parents. That I can fulfill my responsibility according to God’s demands is something that God approves of and is the most meaningful of things. Just as Noah building the ark according to God’s demands was to be considerate of God’s will, complete His commission, and ensure that His work could develop smoothly. However, I was too selfish and despicable. I let my desire for blessings go to my head, wanting to make transactions with God once I forsook and expended myself a bit, and get a good destination and rewards from heaven in exchange for what I’d done. This way of expending myself was full of interests and making transactions, and God detested and condemned it. If I believed like this to the end, there was no way I’d receive God’s approval and blessings. Recognizing this, I was remorseful and reproached myself. I also hated and detested myself for having such pursuits. I was only a created being, and expending myself was something I ought to do; it was my responsibility. In what way was I qualified to demand blessings and rewards from God? From then on, I was willing to properly pursue the truth, and to focus on pursuing dispositional change in the performance of my duty. No matter whether I gained blessings or suffered misfortune, I would place everything in God’s hands, trust His orchestration and arrangements, and fulfill my duty according to His demands. This is the foundation and the value of living. After understanding this, I was no longer worried or apprehensive about my future outcome and destination. My heart felt much lighter and much more liberated.

Before, I was always afraid of suffering a calamity and trials and tribulations. I thought that this was a bad thing. Now, I understood that if one can have true faith in and submission to God when they suffer a disaster and can hold fast to their loyalty and witness before God, this will perfect them and give them blessings by way of disaster. It’s just like how Job, amidst trials and disaster, held onto his faith in and submission to God, thereby receiving God’s approval and blessings. Not only did everything material increase doubly, God also revealed Himself to Job, making Job lucky enough to see God. On the surface, it appeared that Job had suffered a disaster back then, a ruthless deprivation, but in fact, this was God blessing him. Meanwhile, Job’s wife was different. When Job suffered disaster and trials, she told him to deny and reject God, and she became a mark of humiliation. From this, it can be seen that when faced with disaster, people who sincerely believe in God and pursue the truth are perfected, while those who don’t pursue the truth and only want to gain blessings are revealed, condemned, and cast out. Some people are controlled by intentions to gain blessings; on the surface, they can forsake and expend themselves a bit and take on an important task in God’s house, but when they’re arrested and persecuted by the Communist Party and their life and interests are under threat, they deny and betray God and turn Judas, completely losing their chance to be saved. Meanwhile, other brothers and sisters also suffer the Communist Party’s arrests and torture, and still hold onto their faith in and submission to God. They pledge to give their life before they turn Judas and betray Him. Such people have testimony and have gained blessings by way of disaster. After understanding this, whenever my performance of my duty related to my prospects and destination, I was able to consciously let go of my intention to gain blessings and only wanted to fulfill my duty as a created being and submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements. Wang Hao suffering a disaster revealed me, but it was also God’s salvation and protection for me. It gave me a chance to equip myself with this aspect of the truth in advance so that I was not likely to fail and fall when faced with trials. I saw that God’s salvation of man was so practical. Now, I have some understanding of my intentions and impurities in doing my duty during these years. I also understand that pursuing and gaining the truth is greater in value than any amount of grace. At present, what’s most important is for me to focus on pursuing the truth and change my corrupt disposition in the performance of my duty. As for whether I can gain blessings in the end, that’s for God to orchestrate.

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