The Test of a Difficult Environment

September 28, 2022

By Junior, Africa

I was always influenced by society, since I was little. I liked going along with other people in everything I did. The people around me were Christians, so I was too. But when I longed to learn about and seek information on God, I started pondering some questions: Why do we believe in God? How can we know God? In this dark and evil world, where is the truth, really? Why do people face hardship in life? These questions were like one mystery after another, and I never found answers. Fortunately, after I accepted Almighty God’s gospel of the last days, I found the answers to all these confusing things in Almighty God’s words. I learned that in faith, people can achieve knowledge of God, submission and love for God by experiencing God’s words and work. I also learned that in the last days, God uses judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement to perfect people and cleanse their corruption. So, I prayed for trials to come upon me. I even wished I’d been born in China so I could undergo the oppression and persecution of the satanic regime like Chinese brothers and sisters, and I could bear resounding witness and be made into an overcomer by God through hardship. Once I had that awakening, something happened to me before long.

Because of the pandemic, the company I worked for folded and I lost my job. I tried looking for work at lots of other companies, but I never got called for an interview. As time dragged on, things got worse and worse. I didn’t have an income or money to buy food. I didn’t know what to do. Before that, I’d join online gatherings, read Almighty God’s words, watch church movies, and do my duty with others after getting off work. These were the most important things to me and I felt that was a great way to practice faith. But now that I was going through this ordeal, I thought that since I believed in the one true God, He’d certainly take care of me and help me. I also prayed to God, asking Him to give me a job. I thought that since I was a believer, God would give me anything I asked for, but that’s not what God did. I felt some weakness and confusion. I read God’s words and prayed every day, so why wasn’t God helping me when I was suffering? When that came up in me, I thought of Job. When he lost all of his possessions, he was still able to stand firm in his testimony. Job believed that everything, good and bad, was what God arranged, and he never had complaints. He thanked God for giving him material blessings, and when God took away those blessings, he still praised the name of Jehovah God. Really thinking about Job’s faith and prayers, I realized how paltry my faith was, that it couldn’t compare with Job’s. I knew I should follow Job’s example, and submit to God’s rule and arrangements like him. But thinking about the prospect of not having enough to eat, I didn’t know what to do. Most importantly, I’d accepted Almighty God just three months earlier, and didn’t understand much of God’s word. I’d used up my mobile data quota, so I couldn’t attend online gatherings. All I could do was plead with God, “God, whether I starve to death or not is in Your hands. Even if I die, I’ll submit to Your rule and arrangements.” Praying that way gave me a sense of peace. That same day, after my prayer, something happened out of the blue. My uncle called and asked me if I wanted to go work for his construction company. Though construction work is tiring, after a week’s work I’d earned enough money to support me for a while. I truly thanked God! In this situation, I started thinking about why God didn’t do it when I was asking Him to help me find a job, but when I prayed that I was ready to submit, He did help me.

Then one day, I read some of God’s words that gave me some understanding of this. Almighty God says, “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” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, What Do You Know of Faith?). “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. Now that things have gotten to this point, who can reverse such a course? And how many people are capable of truly understanding how dire this relationship has become? I believe that when people immerse themselves in the joy of being blessed, none can imagine how embarrassing and unsightly such a relationship with God is” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management). God’s words reveal our motives for blessings and corrupt states. Lots of people are actually just seeking God’s comfort in their faith. They don’t want to suffer any misfortune and they’re hoping that God will give them everything they want, but they never care about whether they’re satisfying God. For them, submitting to God and meeting His demands isn’t important. What’s most important is that God gives them what they want. In my faith in the Lord, the pastors and elders often preached that we should pray for God’s blessings, but that kind of pursuit taints our relationship with God. Just as God’s words reveal: “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.” God’s words are the truth, so I reflected on myself. I saw my faith was also for the sake of gaining God’s blessings. That intent was hidden deep in the recesses of my heart. I thought that since God has returned to the earth, He would certainly bless everyone who accepts Him. I figured since I’d accepted God’s work of the last days, blessings couldn’t be far off, that my life was about to get better. However, things didn’t turn out that way. I ran into hardships and my life got more difficult, so I became weak and negative. I didn’t have an income, I didn’t have food, I couldn’t use the internet to join online gatherings. How could I keep practicing my faith? I was disgruntled, and it felt like God didn’t care about me. I’d run all over the place looking for work and prayed for God’s help, but God never answered, and He didn’t give me what I’d prayed for. I developed doubts about God: Is He the true God? It’s just like God says: “When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful.” The revelation of God’s words made me feel ashamed of what I’d shown. God’s words also showed me that having faith for the sake of blessings was the wrong outlook, because I saw God as the bestower of blessings and saw myself as the receiver of blessings. When God didn’t give me a good job like I wanted, I blamed Him and thought He didn’t care for me at all. I saw how absurd, ignorant, and foolish my perspective on faith was. I thought about how I’d gone to gatherings since I was a kid, and all I’d heard was, “God will give you great blessings! God will bless you if you’re a believer. Pray and ask God for things, and He’ll certainly answer.” Those things I heard from the religious world, my parents, and others around me had a big impact on me and made me feel that I just needed to believe to gain God’s blessings and be free of worldly suffering. Before I never thought that having a desire for blessings in faith was wrong, and I really didn’t see that was a satanic disposition. I didn’t have any understanding of this until I read God’s words exposing people’s corruption. I asked myself, is faith really just to receive material blessings? Are those with enough money and material possessions the ones God approves of? If so, why did the Lord Jesus say in John 6:27, “Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for Him has God the Father sealed”? He also said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). Then I realized always asking God for material blessings is mankind’s extravagant desire—it’s corruption, and God detests it. It’s entirely because Satan misleads man and keeps us from knowing God’s identity, and particularly from knowing that God rules over our fates, so we’re unable to submit to our Creator. When everything’s going smoothly, we give thanks to God and praise Him, but when we face hardship in life, when God doesn’t satisfy our demands, we misunderstand God and blame Him. This reminded me of Abraham. He was willing to submit to anything from God. Good or bad, he didn’t have his own personal choice. When God told Abraham to use his son as a sacrifice, Abraham was ready to do that, as God asked. It was really painful for him, but he didn’t ask God, “Why are You asking this of me? How could You treat me this way?” Abraham believed that no matter what God asked, he should obey. He knew that God is the Creator, and he himself was a created being, so he should submit unconditionally, and accept any commandments or demands from God. Abraham’s faith gained God’s approval. But people today are totally different from Abraham. We’re always preoccupied with thoughts of material blessings and we ignore God’s will. The Lord Jesus exhorted us, “Seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We shouldn’t seek material blessings, but we should seek to do God’s will, pursue the truth and do our duties well. That’s what matters. God is the Creator. He knows our thoughts best, and He also knows best what we need. But because of Satan’s corruption, mankind’s thoughts have all been taken over with greed and material blessings, so we don’t believe in God to obey and satisfy Him, but just to gain blessings and satisfy our own desires. Just as Almighty God’s words reveal, “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; when they forsake things and expend themselves for God, it is in order to be blessed, and when they are faithful to Him, it is in order to be rewarded. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of being blessed, rewarded, and entering the kingdom of heaven. In society, people work for their own benefit, and in the house of God, they perform a duty in order to be blessed. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: There is no better evidence of man’s satanic nature” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, Part Three). God’s words exposed the precise truth about me. I saw my ignorance and selfishness, and learned how when I encountered something I didn’t like, I should pray and submit to God, and that I couldn’t just chase grace and blessings. But I ran into the same problem again before long. Since I worked at my uncle’s place for just a week then quit, and after that I was just at home focused on my duty, I ran out of money pretty fast. I didn’t know where my next meal would come from or how I should go look for work because I didn’t have a degree or any qualifications for employment. I had nothing to my name or money to buy more data on my mobile plan. I really needed the internet to join gatherings and do a duty. Thinking about this left me feeling weak again, and I felt like I couldn’t see any hope. Just then, my mom told me that because of the pandemic, they didn’t have anything to live off of, and they hoped I could give them some things. Knowing my mom was in the same straits as I was was weakening and painful for me. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was suffering so much more than other people, that my life was really hard. I couldn’t get a clear understanding of God’s will. I thought that since I was busy with my duty every day, God should take care of me, so why did my situation keep deteriorating?

During that time, I read God’s words a lot and listened to quite a few hymns of praise. Two of those passages of God’s words helped me understand His will. Almighty God says, “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 and reveal corruption, 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 people are still subject to Satan’s bondage, and in whichever aspects they still have their own desires and their own demands, these are the aspects in which they 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!” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, Part Three). “People always have inside themselves extravagant demands of God. They are always thinking, ‘We’ve left our families and are performing duties, so God should bless us; we do as God demands, so God should reward us.’ Such things reside in many people’s hearts as they believe in God. … People are so insensible. They do not practice the truth, yet they blame God. They do not do what they ought. People should choose the path of pursuing the truth, yet they are sick of the truth and long for fleshly enjoyments. They are always in pursuit of blessings and the enjoyment of grace, and always complaining that God’s demands of man are too great. They persist in trying to make God treat them graciously, and bestow on them more grace, and allow their fleshly body enjoyment. Are they those who truly believe in God? … In saying these things, people have no sense and no faith at all. They all stem from man’s discontent with God because their extravagant demands have not been met; they are all things that pour out from man’s heart, and they are entirely representative of man’s nature. These things are inside man, and if they do not cast them off, they may cause them, at any time or place, to blame God and misunderstand Him. Man will also be liable to blaspheme against God, and anywhere, at any time, they might veer from the true way. This is a natural occurrence” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, Part Three). I learned something from God’s words. Being focused on my duty every day, to the point I wasn’t paying attention to my family, I thought expending myself that way, God should reward me, bestow blessings on me. I didn’t want to get lavish rewards from God, just a job that was enough for me to get by, and after I got a job, I’d be able to do a better job in my duty. I felt like that was a reasonable request that wasn’t at all excessive. But reflecting on God’s words, I saw that having those extravagant wishes and desires showed that I hadn’t submitted to God. I was demanding that God do this and that for me. God’s words also showed me that if someone always has unreasonable demands of God, it’s difficult for them to practice the truth, and they’ll likely betray and forsake God when their demands aren’t met. Then I understood that the difficulties I faced looked from the outside like I suffered a lot, like it was really pitiable, but in fact, I was going through the tempering of suffering. I felt like I couldn’t take it, but God wasn’t abandoning me. That was so that I could see my incorrect motives and adulterations in my faith, and turn them toward the right direction that God hopes people will follow. I couldn’t help but wonder, don’t I want a good job where I can earn more money? Don’t I want more mobile data and to have my basic needs covered? Don’t I want to do my duty unhindered, without any troubles? Yes, I do. So, since I hope to attain these things, why won’t God arrange for me to have them? Am I just that unlucky, that unfortunate? Absolutely not—I was incredibly lucky. This was God’s love coming upon me. God set up that situation for me to have me seek the truth, learn lessons, and cleanse the adulterations in my faith. If I was practicing my faith entirely in a good, comfortable environment without experiencing any adverse, unfavorable situations, my faith and love for God would have motives, desires, and adulteration, which God wouldn’t approve of. God hopes that people are genuine toward Him under any circumstances, that we’re devoted and obedient toward Him. It’s just like a child. If they only love their dad when he gives them a comfortable material life, but otherwise hate their dad and say, “If you don’t give me everything I want, I won’t respect you or recognize you as my father.” What kind of kid is that? That’s an unfilial child who lacks conscience and reason. Thank God! That was the situation I was facing, too. Going through those things was exactly what I needed to cleanse the adulterations in my faith.

I read something else in God’s words. Almighty God says, “What is real belief in God today? It is the acceptance of God’s word as the reality of your life and the knowing of God from His word in order to achieve a true love of Him. To be clear: Belief in God is so that you may obey God, love God, and perform the duty that should be performed by a creature of God. This is the aim of believing in God. You must achieve a knowledge of the loveliness of God, of how worthy God is of reverence, of how, in His creatures, God does the work of salvation and making them perfect—these are the bare essentials of your belief in God. Belief in God is principally the switch from a life of the flesh to a life of loving God; from living within corruption to living within the life of God’s words; it is coming out from under the domain of Satan and living under the care and protection of God; it is being able to achieve obedience to God and not obedience to the flesh; it is allowing God to gain your entire heart, allowing God to make you perfect, and freeing yourself from the corrupt satanic disposition. Belief in God is principally so that the power and glory of God may be manifested in you, so that you may do God’s will, and accomplish God’s plan, and be able to bear testimony to God before Satan. Belief in God should not revolve around the desire to behold signs and wonders, nor should it be for the sake of your personal flesh. It should be about the pursuit of knowing God, and being able to obey God, and, like Peter, obeying Him until one’s death. These are the main aims of believing in God. One eats and drinks the word of God in order to know God and satisfy Him. Eating and drinking the word of God gives you a greater knowledge of God, only after which can you obey Him. Only with knowledge of God can you love Him, and this is the goal man should have in his belief in God” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, All Is Achieved by the Word of God). I read this passage of God’s words right after gaining my faith in Almighty God, but at the time I didn’t truly understand it. It was only after going through all those hard times that I had a little understanding of God’s will. True faith really isn’t like what I’d thought, that as long as I expended myself for God, He should watch over and protect me, and meet my needs. That kind of view of faith isn’t right. In our faith, we should experience God’s words and satisfy Him in all things. Whether God gives or takes away, we should submit to Him and genuinely give of ourselves. If in people’s faith, all they pursue is to know God through His words, and submit to His rule and arrangements, God approves of that kind of faith. Anyone who can love God to the utmost and obey Him till death like Peter, is someone God perfects. Thankfully, God enlightened me to know the proper perspective on faith through this situation and this gave me heartfelt peace and calm. I made a prayer of submission to God, just asking Him to give me strength to withstand that hardship.

To my surprise, the next day, my uncle sent me a little money, allowing me to buy some food and mobile data. I gave heartfelt thanks to God for giving me a way forward.

On top of that, I managed to get a part-time job. It wasn’t an easy job at all, but I could earn enough to meet my basic needs. I knew God had arranged that for me. I truly experienced that accepting and submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements is a fundamental lesson we should learn through real life that can help us know God’s almighty rule and mysterious ways through our experiences. This is the attitude we should have toward all sorts of issues in life. That reminded me of a passage of God’s words. “When confronting real-life problems, how should you know and understand God’s authority and His sovereignty? When you are faced with these problems and do not know how to understand, handle, and experience them, what attitude should you adopt to demonstrate your intention to submit, your desire to submit, and the reality of your submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements? First you must learn to wait; then you must learn to seek; then you must learn to submit. ‘Waiting’ means waiting for the time of God, awaiting the people, events, and things that He has arranged for you, waiting for His will to reveal itself gradually to you. ‘Seeking’ means observing and understanding God’s thoughtful intentions for you through the people, events, and things that He has laid out, understanding the truth through them, understanding what humans must accomplish and the ways they must adhere to, understanding what results God means to achieve in humans and what accomplishments He means to attain in them. ‘Submitting,’ of course, refers to accepting the people, events, and things that God has orchestrated, accepting His sovereignty and, through it, coming to know how the Creator dictates man’s fate, how He supplies man with His life, how He works the truth within man. All things under God’s arrangements and sovereignty obey natural laws, and if you resolve to let God arrange and dictate everything for you, you should learn to wait, you should learn to seek, and you should learn to submit. This is the attitude every person who wants to submit to God’s authority must adopt, the basic quality every person who wants to accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements must possess. To hold such an attitude, to possess such a quality, you must work harder. This is the only way you can enter into the true reality” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, God Himself, the Unique III). I read this passage of God’s words before, but it felt different reading it again after going through some hard times. I could see from God’s words that seeking God’s will, waiting and submitting is the first approach someone should have when they face a problem. But it’s not a passive kind of waiting. It includes praying, reading God’s words, seeking God’s will, and reflecting on yourself. This way you can learn about your true state and understand what you should enter into. Through this kind of seeking and experience, we can see God’s almighty rule and His actual deeds.

At first I only wanted to do that difficult part-time job for one month, so I could just make enough to get by and use the rest of my time on my duty. But I had a problem with my cellphone. I figured if I worked another month, I could buy another cellphone and a laptop. But I was a church leader, so I had a lot of church work to handle. Doing my duty was the most important thing for me—it was my priority, so I decided to quit my job. After the upper leader found out about my situation, she told me that to help me do my duty well, the church could help me buy a laptop and some internet bandwidth. I was really excited to hear that—I was more excited than I can express. I knew this was entirely God’s grace, that God was opening up a path for me so that I could do my duty well. I also saw that God wasn’t making things difficult for me at all. God just wanted me to be genuine and obedient. I personally experienced God’s love through hard times. Before, what I’d imagined about God’s love for man was vague and didn’t line up with reality. But after learning these lessons through those real-life situations, I really saw through these situations, I saw my ignorance and selfishness. This led me to gradually change my mistaken perspectives on faith and get on the right path. truly was His love for me. I also came to understand the right attitude to have through hard times and how to approach God. Before I always thought as long as I had faith, God should supply me with everything. Now I know that in faith, we shouldn’t always demand things from God, but we should submit to God and meet His will in everything.

I faced another real test before too long. After a month in that job, the day I got paid, I was suddenly robbed in the street. They got away with half of my salary. But thanks to God’s protection, though they had knives, they didn’t injure me. It immediately occurred to me that God let that happen because of His good intentions. I thought of Job being so rich, but when all of his possessions were taken and his children all died, he unconditionally submitted, had no complaints, and still praised God’s name. I wasn’t rich—I was just a regular person. A bit of money was stolen, and though I needed it and had lots of plans for what I was going to do with it, I was ready to follow Job’s example in faith and obedience. I prayed, “God, You are fathomless. I can’t completely understand what has happened, but I believe that Your will is hidden within it. I’m ready to submit to Your arrangements. Please move my heart and guide me so I don’t sink into a negative state.” I felt really calm after my prayer, as if nothing at all had happened. I kept doing my duty calmly like always, without feeling any worry or anxiety. Compared to my attitude before understanding God’s rule, it was totally different. That was because I learned that God arranged things that way to cleanse and save me. That also deepened my understanding of God’s love. God’s expression of His love isn’t solely to give us material blessings, because those items can only satisfy our fleshly desires. God’s true love are to have us learn the truth through experiencing the judgment of His words, trials, and refinement, know why we have faith, how to revere God and shun evil, how to love and satisfy God, and ultimately submit to all of God’s arrangements. That reminds me of some of God’s words. “Man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God. If you only enjoy the grace of God, having a peaceful family life or material blessings, then you have not gained God, and your belief in God cannot be considered successful. God has already carried out one stage of the work of grace in the flesh, and has already bestowed material blessings upon man, but man cannot be made perfect with grace, love, and mercy alone. In man’s experiences, he encounters some of God’s love and sees the love and mercy of God, yet having experienced for a period of time, he sees that God’s grace and His love and mercy are incapable of making man perfect, incapable of revealing that which is corrupt within man, and incapable of ridding man of his corrupt disposition, or making perfect his love and faith. God’s work of grace was the work of one period, and man cannot rely on enjoying the grace of God in order to know God” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God). “By what means is God’s perfection of man accomplished? It is accomplished by means of His righteous disposition. God’s disposition primarily consists of righteousness, wrath, majesty, judgment, and curse, and He perfects man primarily by means of His judgment” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God). Reading God’s words, I deeply feel that God’s work of judgment in the last days really is to cleanse and change mankind. The impurities in our faith and our corrupt dispositions can only be cleansed through the judgment of God’s words, trials and refinement. That can’t be achieved just by relying on God’s grace. I never would have understood these things without God’s words, without these difficult experiences. Thanks be to Almighty God!

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