A Letter From a Recovered Cancer Patient to Her Sister
Hello! I got your letter a few days ago and it made me really happy. We haven’t been in contact for a long time, so now that I know you’re all well and that you’re living the proper church life, my mind can rest easy. You asked why I hadn’t been in touch with you for such a long time; you must surely have been worried that something had happened to me, right? Actually, I’ve been going through a trial of illness during this time, and the doctor gave me a death sentence. But I miraculously survived under the guidance of God’s words, and now I’m completely fine. You probably want to know how God guided me through this trial of illness, don’t you? Let me take you through everything that’s happened.
One day in October, I discovered by chance a hard lump in my left breast. It didn’t hurt or itch, but it kind of threw me: I couldn’t possibly have breast cancer, could I? So straight away I consulted some relevant information, and found that the various symptoms of breast cancer were the same as what I was experiencing. I couldn’t help but feel anxious and scared: Do I really have cancer? Cancer is incurable, so I could go and spend money at the hospital and still not be cured…. The more I thought about it, the more afraid I became, and unconsciously a thought to blame God arose within me. I thought: “I’ve been following God for nearly 20 years, I’ve always done my duty in the church and I’m busy from dawn till dusk every day. I’ve even suffered being persecuted and the danger of being arrested by the Chinese government, and suffered being rejected and slandered by unbelievers and not being understood by my relatives and friends, and none of this has ever shaken my resolution to follow God. So how can I suddenly have cancer?” But then I thought: “Don’t think crazy thoughts. This illness that’s come upon me is God’s trial. God’s words have said: ‘Almighty God, the Head of all things, wields His kingly power from His throne. He rules over the universe and all things and He is guiding us on the whole earth. We shall often be close to Him, and come before Him in quietness; never shall we miss a single moment, and there are things to learn at all times. The environment around us as well as the people, matters and objects, all are permitted by His throne. Do not have a complaining heart, or God will not bestow His grace upon you. When sickness happens it is due to God’s love, and His good intentions are surely behind it. Even when your body endures suffering, take no ideas from Satan. Praise God in the midst of illness and enjoy God in the midst of your praise. Do not lose heart in the face of illness, keep seeking and never give up, and God shall shine His light on you. How faithful was Job? Almighty God is an all-powerful physician! To dwell in sickness is to be sick, but to dwell in the spirit is to be well. If you have but one breath, God will not let you die’ (‘The Sixth Utterance’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).” Thinking of God’s words gave me faith and strength. Although I didn’t understand God’s will right then, I still believed that God’s good intentions must certainly be behind this illness that had come upon me. I wanted to be like Job, not only not complaining to God, but also thanking and praising God for His righteousness. I thought, “God holds sovereignty over all things, and my life and death are also held in God’s hands. So long as the hour of my death has not yet arrived, even if I have but one breath left in my body, God would not let me die.” Being momentarily moved by God’s words, I felt a surge of faith, but the moment I returned to reality, I began to worry once again: “I have always spent all my time serving God and have never caused delays to the church’s work. If I’m now to cause delays to it because I’m ill, will God still approve of me? If I’m not able to earn God’s approval, won’t all these years spent expending myself and paying this price have been in vain? No, no matter what, I won’t give up my duty. But the longer I put off going to hospital, won’t my illness just get worse? What will I do if I really am going to die?” One worry after another caused me to sink into painful refinement. I didn’t know how to face everything that was happening to me, much less was I able to calmly perform my duty. As I was being refined, I prayed and went seeking to God many times, asking Him to guide me to understand His will. One day, I just so happened to read these words of God: “For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, nor does it mean destroying them in hell. It means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his motivations, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function” (“Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Truly Love God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words shone a light on all before me. As it happened, by means of His refinement, God was enabling me to examine and know myself to an even deeper level, He was purifying me of my inner motives and impurities and changing my incorrect views on what to pursue in my belief in God so that I could achieve true love for God, whilst at the same time come to know God’s righteous disposition. Having understood God’s will, I knelt down and prayed to God: “Oh, God! I now understand the purpose and significance of Your work of refinement. But I still don’t know what corruptions I need to be purified of and what views of mine need remedying. May You enlighten and guide me, and enable me to learn the lessons I should learn.”
After I’d prayed, I opened the book of God’s words and read: “How many believe in Me only so I would heal them? … How many believe in Me only to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven? … When man asked Me to heal him, yet I heeded him not and moreover felt abhorrence for him, man went far away from Me and sought the way of witch doctors and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, then all disappeared without a trace. Therefore, 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 The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Every person constantly, and often makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, and ambitions, and deals. Which is to say, in his heart man is constantly putting God to test, constantly devising plans about God, and constantly arguing the case for his 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 doesn’t treat God like God. He 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 when he first began to believe in God, man 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 provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of ‘belief in God’ of all those who believe in God, and their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every one of God’s words exposed the ulterior motives and aims I had in my belief in God, and they made me feel disgraced and abashed, and like there was no place I could show my face for shame. I thought, “Since I discovered I was ill, I have constantly tried to reason with God and believed that, since I’ve believed in God for so many years and have been serving full time in the church, God should watch over me and keep my flesh safe, and make everything all right, and that if God does not keep me from falling ill or from suffering, then He must be wrong. From the outside, I appeared to be persisting with my duty in the church, but in fact I was afraid that, if by chance I wasn’t able to perform my duty, then I would gain nothing when God’s work came to its end and my belief in God would end in failure. God has used this trial of illness to make me see my contemptible intent to make deals with God. I have undergone all the sufferings and expended myself through all these years in order to receive God’s grace and blessings in return, and in order to obtain the crown and reward in the end—I haven’t loved God at all. This exposure is so beneficial for my life growth, and it is God’s blessing to me and His great love for me.” At that moment, all I could do was prostrate myself before God and offer up a prayer: “Oh, God! Through this trial of illness, You’ve made me realize that all these years I’ve used You and cheated You. Oh, God! I’m so unworthy to live before You. Contracting this illness as I have now is entirely Your righteous judgment coming upon me, and it is the best way for You to purify and change me. I wish to accept it and obey. Amen!” After praying, I thought of the people of the city of Nineveh who, because they sincerely repented, obtained God’s mercy and forbearance. And I also thought of Job; while he was afflicted by illness, Job still didn’t deny God, but instead he extolled God’s name, and ultimately he received God’s blessing. So I also made a resolution to God that I would confess my sins and repent to Him like the people of Nineveh, and that I would obey God and not complain, and stand witness for God as Job had done.
I then read these words of God: “No matter how God works or what kind of environment you are in, you will be able to pursue life, seek to have God’s work carried out within you, and pursue the truth. You will have an understanding of God’s actions and you will be able to act according to the truth. This is your genuine faith, and this shows that you have not lost hope in God. You will still pursue the truth in refinement, you will be able to truly love God and will not develop doubts of Him. No matter what He does, you will still practice the truth to satisfy Him, and you will be able to deeply seek out His will and be considerate of His will. Only this is true faith in God. Before, when God said that you would reign as a king, you loved Him, and when He openly showed Himself to you, you pursued Him. But now God is hidden, you cannot see Him, and troubles have come upon you. At this time, do you lose hope in God? So at all times you must pursue life and seek to satisfy God’s will. This is called genuine faith, and it is the truest and most beautiful kind of love. … When you face sufferings you must be able to not consider the flesh and not complain against God. When God hides Himself from you, you must be able to have the faith to follow Him, to maintain your previous love without allowing it to falter or disappear. No matter what God does, you must submit to His design, and be more willing to curse your own flesh than to complain against Him. When you are faced with trials you must satisfy God in spite of any reluctance to part with something you love, or bitter weeping. Only this can be called true love and faith” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words gave me faith and strength, and they made me understand that I should have true faith in God during trials. Whether in pain or hardship, I must always obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements and not complain, and I must also seek to change the wrong motives and impurities I harbor within me so as to satisfy God’s will. As I contemplated God’s words, I perceived God’s hope, care and thought for me, and that God knew what method to use to allow me to gain the truth and be purified. Having understood God’s will, I was willing to face calmly the refinement of this illness. I thought that God had given me this breath I took, and whether I recovered from this illness or not, it was all in God’s hands; I was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements.
Soon after, your brother-in-law took me to the hospital. After the doctor had examined me, he reproached me, saying: “Why are you only now coming to be examined? The best time for treatment has already passed because of your delay.” Standing beside me, your brother-in-law asked anxiously: “Doctor, can it still be operated on?” The doctor flipped through the case files and helplessly shook his head, and said: “Not anymore.” Hearing the doctor say this, despairing thoughts flashed through my heart, as I knew what late-stage cancer meant…. Imperceptibly, feelings of despair and terror enveloped me, and my heart trembled with fear. Just at that moment, God’s words enlightened me: “Jehovah God not only holds the status of the God who created light, and air, and all things and living beings, of the God who holds sovereignty over all things and living beings, but also of the God who commands mankind, and commands Hades, the God who controls the life and death of all living things” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “When the Lord Jesus did something such as bringing Lazarus back from the dead, His goal was to give proof for humans and for Satan to see, and to let humans and Satan know that mankind’s everything, mankind’s life and death are determined by God” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words greatly eased my heart, and I silently prayed to God: “O God, I wish to entrust my life and death to You, to place myself in Your hands whether I live or die and, even if I do die, it is because of Your righteousness and I will still give thanks to You and praise You.” Your brother-in-law cried and implored the doctor to cure me no matter what (at that time, a large lump had grown on my collarbone, and the lump in my breast had begun to ulcerate and weep, and both my armpits hurt so much that I couldn’t lift my arms). The doctor said helplessly: “We’ll do a PET-CT scan first and see. We’ll be able to talk about the exact situation once we have the results.” When your brother-in-law heard that the doctor was willing to treat me, he hurriedly nodded his head and agreed. He stayed behind as the doctor beckoned me out of the room, telling me that they would fill out the registration forms for me, and that the hospital would be in touch at a later date to arrange a check-up. (Only later did I find out that the doctor had told your brother-in-law that my illness had already reached an advanced stage, and that we should go home and enjoy celebrating New Year together.) I thank God for protecting my heart, as I wasn’t afraid at all. I knew that this strength was given to me by God, as I simply didn’t have that much faith myself. When the results of my tests came back, the doctor said in amazement: “You’re so fortunate! From an external examination of your illness, I thought the cancer had long since spread to your brain, lungs and liver. But the test results show that the cancer is only in your breast, armpits and on your collarbone, so there’s still hope for you to be cured. It just depends on whether or not you respond to the medication. We need to put you on chemotherapy, and then operate once the tumors have shrunk. The results of this treatment will also depend on your luck. If you respond to the medication, then the tumors will shrink and we will have the opportunity to operate; if you do not respond to the treatment, then the tumors will not shrink, and there will be no hope of a cure.” As I listened to the doctor talk, I silently called to God in my heart: “Oh, God! All things are in Your hands and my life even more so. The doctor can treat my illness, but he can’t save my life. If You permit me to live, then my illness will be cured. But if it can’t be cured and I die, then I will still obey You and praise You for Your righteousness!” As I was undergoing chemotherapy, my heart got close to God all the time, and as per the expected plan, I was very soon to be operated on. Just as I was about to go into the operating theater, I couldn’t help but feel terrified, so I called on God in my heart: “May God protect me so that I may quiet my heart before You and submit in this situation.” After praying, my heart felt incredibly peaceful and at ease, and all feelings of fear and terror were gone—I knew this was because of God’s protection. After the operation was over, the doctor said it had been very successful. Moreover, I hadn’t suffered the kind of pain and suffering other people suffer when undergoing chemotherapy. The doctor said that because I underwent preoperative chemotherapy, it would take a long time for the incisions to heal, but in actual fact, the opposite happened. It can take two to three weeks for people to have their tubes taken out (drainage tubes left in from the operation), but I hadn’t even been home for two weeks before mine could be taken out. As the doctor was removing my tubes, he said: “The incisions are healing really well and really quickly.” Hearing the doctor say this, I realized very clearly that this was an act of God, and I couldn’t help but offer up my thanks and praise to God. Little Sister, I finished my treatment more than six months ago and my test results are all fine. I have now come to really appreciate God’s faithfulness, and I have seen His almightiness and sovereignty. Although I suffered some pain during this trial of illness, it has been so beneficial for my life progression. Through this illness, I came to see that I used to believe in God for the sake of gaining blessings and rewards, and that I was on the road to destruction. I now wish to start again, to examine and know myself in every situation God arranges for me, to seek to practice and enter into even more truths and to have my corrupt disposition changed. No matter what my end will be, I will always follow God and obey His orchestrations and arrangements.
Little Sister, please don’t worry about me. Although I can’t serve full time in the church like I did before, I can write down and share with even more brothers and sisters my experiences from all my years of belief in God, and perform my duty to the best of my ability. Now that I’m constantly practicing writing articles of experiences and testimony and reflecting on myself, and I’m going over every tiny thing God has ever done to me, I feel so much closer to God, and I feel a peace and sense of ease that I’ve never felt before. Little Sister, I’m sure your worries and misgivings will all be set aside now that you’ve read this experience I’m sharing with you. I look forward to your next letter, and make sure to share your experiences and understanding with me too!
All the glory be to Almighty God!
Your Big Sister, Ma Ting
August 3, 2018