Facing Illness Again
By Yang Yi, China
I began believing inin 1995. After becoming a believer, a heart illness that had plagued me for years miraculously resolved. I was so thankful to the Lord and often gave alms. Three years later, I received an even greater blessing from God when I accepted the work of in the last days and welcomed the return of the Lord. Through reading , I learned how God expresses the truth and does the work of judgment in the last days to cleanse and save humankind, guiding people to a beautiful destination. I thought, I should be expending, suffering, making sacrifices and doing good works for God if I want His blessings and to reach a good destination. So I started spreading the gospel and occasionally hosting, and I did my best to do whatever I could. I even donated any extra money I had to brothers and sisters living in hardship. One time while spreading the gospel, I was arrested by the police, tortured and even sentenced to jail. Even then, I never betrayed God, was never a Judas. I thought I’d done so many good works and God would definitely bless me. Then, in 2018, my heart illness from 20 years ago suddenly relapsed, and I had hypertension and was admitted to the hospital twice. I thought to myself, no matter what happens, I can’t complain. I should submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. To my surprise, after just two weeks, I recovered and was released from the hospital. I was deeply grateful to God. I thought that since I hadn’t complained despite getting so sick, and even continued fulfilling my duty after being released, I was truly loyal and obedient to God.
Then, in February of 2019, my heart illness and hypertension relapsed again out of nowhere. Much worse than before. Soon after, I was also diagnosed with diabetes, and I had a really badly herniated disc. I couldn’t take care of myself—I had to eat lying down and needed my daughter-in-law to carry me to the bathroom. I lay in bed all day and barely had the strength to speak or blink my eyes. One night, my condition suddenly got worse and my chest hurt so much I was scared to even breathe—like if I took a breath, it would all be over. I was in pain for about half an hour and I felt like I might die at any second. I was in so much pain and I just thought: “I’m so sick I barely have the strength to blink my eyes—is this the end? If I die, how will I enter the kingdom? I’ll never share in the blessings of the kingdom or glimpse its gorgeous scenery. Is it all over for me?” The more I thought the worse I felt. I prayed, but I couldn’t grasp God’s intention. As time went by, the unrelenting agony of my illness made me lose the will to live. But I also knew that dying wasn’t God’s intention for me. I didn’t know what to do and I unconsciously started making demands of God: “When am I going to get better? All the sisters I know of my age are healthier than me, but I haven’t expended or contributed any less than them. I’d given so much for God, spending thriftily so I could donate to needy brothers and sisters. I actively performed every duty I could. Even when I was arrested, jailed and suffered so much, I never denied or betrayed God. Did I not do enough good deeds? Why doesn’t God bless me, protect me and give me a strong body?” I was constantly complaining and my heart was in a dark place.
Later, only after my heart started hurting even worse, did I come before God to pray and seek. I prayed to God, saying: “O God, my heart problem suddenly got worse. I can’t grasp Your intention and don’t know how I should experience this. Dear God, I don’t want to rebel against or oppose You. Please enlighten and guide me so that I can learn from this experience.” After prayer, a passage of God’s word came to mind: “How should the onset of sickness be experienced? You should come before God to pray and seek to grasp His will, and examine just what it is that you did wrong, and what corruptions there are within you that have yet to be resolved. You cannot resolve your corrupt dispositions without pain. People must be tempered by pain; only then will they cease to be dissolute and live before God at all times. When faced with suffering, people will always pray. There will be no thought of food, clothing, or pleasure; in their hearts, they will pray, and examine whether they have done anything wrong during this time. Most of the time, when people are beset by serious illness or some unusual sickness, and it causes them great pain, these things do not happen by accident; whether you are sick or healthy, God’s will is behind it all” (“See All Things Through the Eyes of Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After pondering God’s words, I understood His intention more clearly. God wasn’t using this sickness to take my life, nor was He making me suffer without reason. Rather, the sickness was His way of exposing my corrupt disposition and teaching me a lesson—it was God’s way of saving me. I shouldn’t misunderstand or blame God, I had to really reflect on myself.
There were a few passages of God’s word that helped me better understand my state at that time. “So many believe in Me only that I might heal them. So many believe in Me only that I might use My powers to drive unclean spirits out from their bodies, and so many believe in Me simply that they might receive peace and joy from Me. So many believe in Me only to demand from Me greater material wealth. So many believe in Me just to spend this life in peace and to be safe and sound in the world to come. So many believe in Me to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven. So many believe in Me only for temporary comfort, yet do not seek to gain anything in the world to come. When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, I paid him no heed and felt abhorrence toward him; man departed from Me to instead seek the way of evil medicine and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, everyone disappeared without a trace. Thus, I say that man has faith in Me because I give too much grace, and there is far too much to gain” (“What Do You Know of Faith?” in). “Man’s relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is a relationship between a receiver and a giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is akin to the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. There is no affection in such a relationship, only transaction. There is no loving or being loved, only charity and mercy. There is no understanding, only suppressed indignation and deception. There is no intimacy, only an uncrossable chasm” (“Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “I have held man to a strict standard throughout. If your loyalty comes with intentions and conditions, then I would rather be without your so-called loyalty, for I abhor those who deceive Me through their intentions and extort Me with conditions. I wish only for man to be absolutely loyal to Me, and to do all things for the sake of—and in order to prove—one word: faith” (“Are You a True Believer in God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words of judgment were like a sharp knife through the heart. I felt so ashamed and instantly came to my senses. I started to reflect on myself—what had actually been my goal in all my years of belief? I thought of how after I became a believer, I would help whenever I saw my brothers and sisters in hardship, would fulfill whatever duties needed in the church as best I could, and even when I was arrested, jailed and tortured by the CCP, I didn’t betray God. I thought I had really done a lot of good works. But through the revelation of God’s words and exposure through the facts, I realized that I hadn’t expended and given to submit to and satisfy God, but to gain His grace and blessings, maintain a healthy body and ultimately reach a good destination. So the first time I got sick, I thought that because I had expended so much for God, He wouldn’t let me die, and so I didn’t blame God. The second time, when my condition got even worse and I was unable to take care of myself, as I struggled with prolonged suffering and the threat of death, I realized my chances of gaining the blessings of the kingdom of heaven were slim, and I regretted expending myself in the past. I even used my past sacrifices and expenditures to reason and argue with God. I was transacting with, deceiving and using God—a far cry from truly expending for Him! I reflected on why I had been so unreasonable. Just as God’s words had revealed, I had a mistaken idea that because I had expended and given for God, God should bless me, and give me a healthy body and a good destination, just as in the secular world, it’s considered fair to compensate based on how much someone works. I took my suffering and sacrifices as capital that I could use to trade with God for a good destination, and when I didn’t get it, my heart was full of blame and protest. I was so unreasonable! God is holy and righteous—He wants us to give sincerely. But I, with my despicable motives, wanted to make a deal with God. I was deceiving and resisting Him. If I didn’t repent soon, God would become disgusted with me and eliminate me.
I prayed to God and sought to understand the source of the issue through God’s words. Later I read two passages of God’s words. Almighty God says: “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). “What is Satan’s poison—how can it be expressed? For example, if you ask, ‘How should people live? What should people live for?’ people will answer, ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s philosophy has become people’s lives. No matter what people pursue after, they do it for themselves—and so they live only for themselves. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words have already become the nature of corrupt mankind, the true portrait of corrupt mankind’s satanic nature, and this satanic nature has already become the basis for corrupt mankind’s existence; for several thousand years, corrupt mankind has lived by this venom of Satan, right up to the present day” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words revealed the actual essence of my nature. The reason I’d made transactions with God and deceived and used Him is because I’d been deeply corrupted by Satan. My thoughts and notions had all been influenced by Satan’s poison. I lived according to satanic logic and principles like, “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” and “never take the short end of the stick,” always acting out of self-interest, and only spending for God in order to make a deal with Him. I was always looking to get something from God and to trade my small expenditures for God’s blessings. I lived by Satan’s poison and was selfish, lowly and only sought personal gain. When I didn’t receive blessings or benefits, I’d even blame God. I didn’t have the slightest bit of humanity! I thought of how, in order to save humanity, God had, in His first incarnation, suffered crucifixion to redeem all mankind, and in His second incarnation, He came to the country of the great red dragon, and was persecuted by the CCP and condemned and rejected by the religious world. God endured enormous suffering and humiliation and still expressed the truth to water and supply us. God has never asked us to give Him anything, but has always been quietly expending Himself for mankind. As for me, I didn’t think to repay God’s love, and even demanded that God give me His blessings and a good destination. When I didn’t get what I wanted, I blamed God. Where was my conscience? I was barely worthy of being called human, much less did I deserve to enter into God’s kingdom. After I realized all this, I really hated myself, and also felt so grateful to God. If I hadn’t been sick, bedridden and felt the threat of death, I never would have reflected on myself and would have kept going down the same mistaken path, abandoned and cast out by God without even knowing what’d happened. God pitied me and couldn’t bear to let me go down that mistaken path, so He used the judgment and chastisement of His words and the refinement of sickness to awaken me and let me reflect on myself and turn towards God. This was all part of God’s salvation and His love for me. I felt so moved and prayed to God: “Dear God! I see now that this sickness is a part of Your salvation and love for me. I’m willing to submit. Only through this kind of judgment, chastisement, trial and refinement, can I identify my improper motives as a believer and start to transform my corrupt disposition. I’m willing to change my errant pursuits and notions and fulfill my duty as a creature of God.”
Later on, I saw this passage of God’s words: “There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his heaven-sent vocation, and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is he doing his duty. To be blessed is when someone is made perfect and enjoys God’s blessings after experiencing judgment. To be cursed is when someone’s disposition does not change after they have experienced chastisement and judgment, it is when they do not experience being made perfect but are punished. But regardless of whether they are blessed or cursed, created beings should fulfill their duty, doing what they ought to do, and doing what they are able to do; this is the very least that a person, a person who pursues God, should do. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness” (“The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I understand now—I am a created being. Giving and expending for God is right and proper, it is my duty. I shouldn’t be making demands of God, but I, with my despicable motives, wanted God to give me blessings and a good destination in exchange for my expenditures. I was being so unreasonable! God gave me life—no matter whether or not He gave me a healthy body and a good destination, I should still follow God and expend myself for Him in my duties, just like a child should always respect their parents regardless of how the parents treat them and whether or not they can inherit property. Because these are responsibilities and duties. Even though I still hadn’t recovered and felt pretty awful, I no longer misunderstood God or blamed Him. No matter whether or not I would recover, I was willing to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements.
Actually, as for what counts as a good deed and what kinds of expending and giving will earn God’s commendation, in the past, I always judged these based on my own notions and imagination, but this is not in keeping with God’s will. Later on, only after finding a standard of judgment in God’s words, did I become clear about what constitutes a good deed. God’s words say: “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then you are without a doubt an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat Satan; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations toward God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What is the implication of ‘for your own sake’? For Satan. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. Instead of meeting with God’s approval, you will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end?” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Since you are certain that this way is true, you must follow it until the end; you must maintain your devotion to God. Since you have seen that God Himself has come to the earth to perfect you, you should give your heart entirely to Him. If you can still follow Him no matter what He does, even if He determines an unfavorable outcome for you at the very end, this is maintaining your purity in front of God. Offering a holy spiritual body and a pure virgin to God means keeping a sincere heart in front of God. For mankind, sincerity is purity, and the ability to be sincere toward God is maintaining purity” (“You Should Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, I understood that God wants people to be sincere, to willingly sacrifice for God without asking to be repaid and to practice the truth and bear witness for God in our duties. This is what is truly meant by good works. I had a skewed understanding of good works before. I thought that as long as I expended, suffered and made sacrifices, I was building up good works and God would remember. Then I thought of how in the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus had commended the poor widow who gave an offering. To most people, it seemed like she’d only donated a couple coins, which was worth very little, but God doesn’t care how much people donate, He cares about their intention. The widow had genuine faith in God—she wasn’t trying to make a deal or an exchange, so she earned God’s commendation. I had expended myself and given many, many times what that widow had given, so why didn’t God commend me? God wasn’t disgusted by my expenditures, He was disgusted by my cunning motives and my deceitfulness. I wasn’t being sincere with God; my giving was transactional and impure. No matter how much I gave in this way, it would never be considered a good work. After realizing God’s will, I prayed to Him, saying that no matter whether or not I would recover or have a good destination, I would still sincerely expend myself for God to repay His love. Later, my herniated disc still wasn’t getting better and my heart illness kept relapsing, but I was no longer constrained by my illness or held down by my desire for blessings—I could regularly eat and drink the words of God, attend gatherings and do my duty to the best of my ability.
I’ve had the opportunity to accept the work of God in the last days, and have had the good fortune of hearing God’s voice—this has all been God making an exception to exalt me. Through the exposition and judgment of God’s words, I’ve come to see how I’ve been so corrupted by Satan that I barely resemble a human. Only now have I gained some reason and obedience before God. Now that I have undergone these changes, even if I do die, I will not have lived in vain. When I let go of my desire for blessings and stopped being held back by my illness, I felt much more grounded. Later, I didn’t seek treatment for my illness, but I’ve still slowly started to get better. Now I can sit up and write on a computer and I’ve been practicing writing articles to bear witness for God. I can take care of myself now too. I thank God from the bottom of my heart, for using illness to teach me a lesson, and allowing me to see His salvation and love for me. I thought of a passage of God’s words, “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” (“How One Should Satisfy God Amidst Trials” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days).