What Did Money and Status Ever Do for Me?
By Nina, Côte d’Ivoire
I was born into a broken family. When my mother was pregnant with me, my father ran away with another woman. My mother suffered a lot to take care of six children, and I could hear my mother crying almost every night. Seeing the way she cried so bitterly made me have a negative view of marriage and relationships. I told myself, “You can never give another person all of your trust. Never trust anyone. The only thing you can rely on in life is yourself and the money you earn with your own hands.” From that moment, I started thinking about how to make money. In high school, while everyone else enjoyed their holidays, my mother and I set up a stall on the roadside to sell food. But at the time, the money we earned only paid for our basic needs. In my second year of high school, I had to drop out because I couldn’t pay the tuition. After that, I continued to run the stall. I got up at four or five every morning to prepare food, and went to the stall around six. Three years later, I had saved enough to go work in a big city. I got up early and worked hard every day, but I didn’t earn much, and I wasn’t satisfied. So, with my boyfriend’s help, I used my years of savings to open a small shop. Two years later, we had made some money and had children. Just when we were about to get married, my boyfriend defrauded me of everything. He took all the money, ran off, and settled with another woman. They also had a child. All my hard-earned money was gone, and I felt depressed and miserable. Having experienced what happened to my mother, I felt that men were unreliable, and that I had to focus on earning enough money to raise my children. But I was under a lot of pressure, I didn’t have the energy to run my shop, and I was sick. I didn’t want to stay in this city anymore. Later, when my boyfriend’s father found out, he paid for me to apply for a visa to the UK. Four years later, I got my residence permit and entered university. To earn more money, I chose business management courses. In 2011, I received a bursary for being a student, and I used the money to open an African food store in the city.
At the beginning, because the store was small, I only hired one person. I got up at five every morning to work at the store and went to school when I finished. After class, I hurried back to the store to clean, deliver goods, and manage accounts. Doing business, studying at university, and raising children at the same time must have been very difficult. But when I heard everyone compliment me on my ability, and saw their admiring and envious eyes, I felt very satisfied. At the time, business at the store was good, and it made more money than I thought, but it didn’t feel like enough. I thought I should be rich enough to buy the bank, so that others would praise and envy me. That was what I actually wanted. To gain more honor and praise, and to prove that I was strong, and to earn more money to raise my children and live a luxurious life, I expanded the size of the shop. Three years later, my small shop had turned into a big shop that sold food from different African countries. I was also recognized as the only African entrepreneur in the city. High school and college teachers invited me to speak, to talk about my ambitions and success to inspire immigrant youth in the UK, and they gave me a trophy. When I went to give speeches with the trophy, everyone recognized me. I felt like all my hard work and suffering over the years were worth it, and that my life goals had been achieved. But I didn’t stop making money, because it’s easier to do things and make money after you have social status, and my desire for fame also increased. But by this time, my body was already feeling uncomfortable. I could only stand for a while before I had to sit down. The doctor said I had rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and sciatica, which meant my entire spine was in pain. The doctor said I needed time to recuperate, and that I could no longer work, but I didn’t take my illness seriously. I felt I would recover after some exercise. Besides, business at the store was so good that I didn’t want to let go, so I kept doing business.
By the beginning of 2014, my condition was worse, and my whole body was in pain. It felt like my whole body was burning, as if it was on fire. My legs were swollen most of the time, my hip bone felt like it was broken, and my spine was soft. I had to wear a brace to keep it straight. When I went for a checkup, the doctor said I already had rheumatism, but since I often went into the freezer in the butcher shop, the cold had reached my bones, so I was in danger of being permanently paralyzed at any moment. I was terrified at the time, but it was too late. Later, I basically couldn’t move, so I had no choice but to close the shop. Unexpectedly, other people in the town started to imitate me and opened their own shops. I was jealous, and also very sad about my condition. Why was I so seriously ill? The pain was non-stop, twenty-four hours a day, and there was no day I could sleep peacefully. It was like there was a fire burning in my heart, and the physical and mental torment was especially painful. At this time, I started to really reflect on things. The money I earned couldn’t cure my disease, so what was the use of it? At the time, I felt vulnerable and helpless. I was worried for my children, because I was their only family. I didn’t want to think about money and fame anymore. I just wanted to end the pain and raise my children in peace. For more than a year, I was lying in bed, asking myself, “Why do people suffer so much? Why do we get sick?” In misery and despair, I cried out to the Lord to help me escape my pain.
In May of 2019, once, after ten days of fasting and prayer, I wanted to listen to a hymn. I searched online and found the website of The Church of Almighty God. After I watched a few movies, Where Is My Home left a deep impression on me. The little girl’s life was a reflection of my childhood, and her mother’s experience was exactly the same as mine. My heart thumped in my chest all night, and the next day I called The Church of Almighty God. Reading the words of Almighty God made me certain He was the returned Lord Jesus. I happily accepted the work of Almighty God, and I started attending gatherings online. Once I heard a hymn and was very touched. “If I were not saved by God, I would still be drifting in the world, struggling painfully in sin, without any hope in life. If I were not saved by God, I would still be trampled by devils, enjoying the pleasures of sin, not knowing the path of human life. Almighty God is merciful to me; the sound of His words beckons me. I hear God’s voice and have been lifted up before His throne. Each day I eat and drink the words of God, and I have understood many truths. I see the great depth of mankind’s corruption. We truly need God’s salvation. God’s truth purifies me and saves me. Time and again, I am judged and refined, and my life disposition has changed. Not until tasting God’s righteousness and holiness did I know His loveliness. My heart fears God and shuns evil, and I live out a bit of human likeness” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). This song explained my life very well. In the past, I always wanted to create a happy life by my own hands, and I believed I could fulfill my childhood dreams and all my desires through my own strength, but in the end, I was deeply hurt, had no support, and lived in misery. It was God who brought me before Him, soothed my pain, saved me from the world’s darkness, allowed me to read His words, and gave me the chance to accept judgment and cleansing. Thank God for His salvation! At that time, I couldn’t wait to read more of Almighty God’s words, because I realized that the answers to many questions might be found in Almighty God’s word.
Later, I read a passage of God’s word. “What is the source of the lifelong suffering from birth, death, illness, and old age that humans endure? What caused people to have this suffering? Humans did not have it when they were first created, did they? Where, then, did this suffering come from? This suffering came into being after humans were tempted by Satan, and after they were corrupted by Satan and became degenerate. The pain of human flesh, its afflictions, and its emptiness, as well as the extremely miserable affairs of the human world, only came once Satan had corrupted mankind. After humans were corrupted by Satan, it began to torment them. As a result, they became more and more degenerate. The diseases of humanity grew more and more acute, and their suffering became more and more severe. Increasingly, people sensed the emptiness and tragedy of the human world, as well as their inability to go on living there, and living in the world was increasingly without hope. Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan, and it came about only after the degeneration of man following their corruption by Satan” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering). From God’s word, I understood that God created a world without disease, pain, and death. After Satan tempted people to betray God and turn away from God, people started to become degenerate and corrupt, and sickness and death also fell upon humankind. After that, life became more and more miserable. During these six years, I suffered from illness, and even wanted to commit suicide. My life was meaningless and full of pain. But now I understood the source of my pain: I was corrupted by Satan and turned away from God, and only lived for fame and fortune. Living under Satan’s dominion, I could only feel ever more pain, and my life would be meaningless. The more I read God’s words, the brighter my heart became, and God’s word nourished my parched soul. I felt awakened, as if from a slumber full of nightmares.
Later, I read more of Almighty God’s words. “‘Money makes the world go round’ is a philosophy of Satan, and it prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person. From the very beginning, people did not accept this saying, but then they gave it tacit acceptance when they came into contact with real life, and began to feel that these words were in fact true. Is this not a process of Satan corrupting man? Perhaps people do not understand this saying to the same degree, but everyone has different degrees of interpretation and acknowledgment of this saying based on things that have happened around them and on their own personal experiences. Is that not the case? Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. What is it? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! Satan uses money to tempt people, and corrupts them into worshiping money and venerating material things. And how is this worship of money manifested in people? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is losing the chance to gain the truth and be saved not the greatest of all losses for people? Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick? As you progress from objecting to this popular saying to finally accepting it as truth, your heart falls completely into Satan’s grasp, and therefore you inadvertently come to live by the saying. To what degree has this saying affected you? You might know the true way, and you might know the truth, but you are powerless to pursue it. You may clearly know that God’s words are the truth, but you are unwilling to pay the price or to suffer in order to gain the truth. Instead, you would rather sacrifice your own future and destiny to resist God to the very end. No matter what God says, no matter what God does, no matter whether you understand how deep and how great God’s love for you is, you would stubbornly insist on having your own way and pay the price for this saying. Which is to say, this saying has already tricked and controlled your thoughts, it has already governed your behavior, and you would rather let it rule your fate than set aside your pursuit of wealth. That people can act thus, that they can be controlled and manipulated by the words of Satan—does this not mean that they have been tricked and corrupted by Satan? Have the philosophy and mindset of Satan, and the disposition of Satan, not taken root in your heart? When you blindly pursue wealth, and abandon the pursuit of the truth, has Satan not achieved its aim of tricking you? This is exactly the case” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, God Himself, the Unique V). I only understood after reading God’s words things like “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing” and “Money makes the world go round” that I had always believed were actually satanic philosophies. They had taken root in my heart and taken control of my mind, so that I couldn’t think of anything more important than money. I considered it as my only reason to live, and I thought it would bring me happiness and honor, so I desperately pursued money. In order to get more money, be envied and looked up to, and live a good life, I worked hard without regard for my body until I was almost paralyzed and lost my life. This was the consequence of my accepting Satan’s philosophies and being controlled by them. Although I knew God existed, I didn’t have the strength to follow God and walk the true path of life because Satan’s words and philosophies controlled me. They took my heart far from God and made me live only to satisfy the flesh. Thanks to the guidance of God’s words, I realized I was going the wrong way.
Later, I read another passage of God’s word and found a path out of my pain. God’s words say, “Because people do not recognize God’s orchestrations and God’s sovereignty, they always face fate defiantly and with a rebellious attitude, and they always want to cast off God’s authority and sovereignty and the things fate has in store, hoping in vain to change their current circumstances and alter their fate. But they can never succeed and are thwarted at every turn. This struggle, which takes place deep in one’s soul, brings profound pain of the sort that carves itself into one’s bones, as one fritters away their life all the while. What is the cause of this pain? Is it because of God’s sovereignty, or because a person was born unlucky? Obviously, neither is true. At bottom, it is caused by the paths people take, the ways they choose to live their lives. … There is an exceedingly simple way to free oneself from this state, which is to bid farewell to one’s former way of living; to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life; to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, view of life, pursuits, desires, and ideals; and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and the likeness of a human being. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, God Himself, the Unique III). God’s word made me understand how to free myself from the control of money, which was to let go of the goals I previously pursued, no longer pursue fame and fortune through my own effort, and let God decide and arrange my life. I had to submit to God’s orchestrations, practice according to God’s requirements, and become someone who worships God. I was deeply grateful to God. This was the first time in my life that I felt God’s guidance for me. It seemed like God was speaking directly to me, showing me a path of practice. After I believed in Almighty God, I wanted to perform my duty in the church, but at the time, I still ran an online shop. I had invested a lot of money but hadn’t made any profit. I feared losing even more, so at all times I had to watch the online shop’s orders, and I always received messages during daytime gatherings, so I couldn’t calm my heart at all, and I was still thinking about how to invest and make more money. Running my online store during the day was tiring, so sometimes, at evening gatherings, due to the pain all over my body, I could only lay down and take medicine to cope, but the medicine induced sleep, and I fell asleep during the gatherings. I wanted to sincerely worship God. I didn’t want to live my old life. So, I closed the online shop. Later, my friend said she wanted to open a brick-and-mortar store, and because I studied business management, I helped her develop a plan for free. She liked it very much and said she wanted to work with me. She wanted me to do the packaging while she did shipping, and we would split the money equally. I was tempted. I thought this was a good chance to make more money, and a lot of ideas instantly popped into my mind. That night, when I prayed to God to reflect on my state, I realized I was revealing my greed for money again. I remembered the various pains I had experienced in the past. I also realized that after believing in Almighty God, my spirit was no longer in pain. I had enjoyed peace and steadfastness, and my body’s pain was much better, without using medication. This was God’s protection and salvation for me. It was God who helped me escape the suffering of fame and fortune, but now I wanted to continue pursuing money and fame. Wasn’t I falling into Satan’s snare again? I knew I should turn down this job from my friend, but I still couldn’t completely let go. Afterward, I read God’s words and found a path of practice. God’s words say, “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could live on, exempt from death. But only when they are about to die do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person may be, no matter how lofty their position, all are equally poor and insignificant in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second. The more people feel this way, the more they yearn to keep on living; the more people feel this way, the more they dread the approach of death. Only at this point do they truly realize that their lives do not belong to them, are not theirs to control, and that one has no say over whether one lives or dies—that all of this lies outside of one’s control” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, God Himself, the Unique III). I understood from God’s word that while people think clinging to money can prolong life and prevent them from dying, only on the brink of death do they realize that money can’t save them, it can’t give them eternal life, and it can’t help them regain their health. Isn’t waking up in the face of death too late? I used to be the same, blindly pursuing money without caring about my body. The doctor told me to rest and recuperate, but I worried about not earning money if I stayed at home, so I worked while sick. I thought I could control my own destiny, but on the brink of death, I realized that nothing was under my control. Now, thanks to God’s salvation, I had the good fortune to hear God’s words. I understood that God has sovereignty over people’s fate, and that I should obey God’s arrangements and no longer fight fate by myself. If I chose to make money, I would be miserable again. I would run myself ragged for money, and Satan would keep controlling and tormenting me. This is when I realized this was Satan’s temptation for me. A friend came to me with a business idea, she put up the investment, and was willing to share the proceeds equally. The offer was very tempting. Satan was using this to make me fall back into the snare of money and fame, and I foolishly wanted to go back to my old life of torment and misery. Wasn’t this just falling for Satan’s trick? I prayed to God, saying I wanted to put aside fame and fortune, and to do my duty instead. After I prayed, I felt very relaxed. It was like being freed from a heavy burden. For the next three days, to keep myself from the vortex of fame and fortune, I prayed more intensively each day. I mustered the courage to refuse to work with my friend, but she tried to persuade me, “Now you live on government aid. This isn’t enough for you. This isn’t the Nina I know.” I said, “It’s true, I’m not the Nina I used to be. I accepted God’s work of the last days and understand some truth. It was God who saved me from my pain. Before, the hospital said my disease was incurable, and they gave up on me. Even tranquilizers didn’t relieve my pain. But when I read God’s words, my pain unconsciously subsided. If I left God’s house and came back to the world, I would still live in pain. I don’t want to continue living like that.” I also told her: “You can find someone else to be your partner. If you need help, I can give you some advice.” Later, she came to me several times, until she realized I couldn’t be persuaded.
Now I do my duty in the church, and I feel a sense of freedom and peace. My physical pain has been reduced by 60 to 70 percent, and I can walk and cook now. But most importantly, I can do my duty in the church. I am grateful to God for saving me from being controlled by money, and changing the direction of my life. I understand now that knowing God’s sovereignty, worshiping God, and practicing by God’s words and requirements is the most meaningful and valuable thing in life. Although my sickness has caused me a lot of pain, it is also a blessing for me. It gives me the chance to return to God and gain God’s salvation, which is something no amount of money can buy. Thank Almighty God!
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