7. The Awakening of a Money Slave
By Xingwu, China
When I was young, my family was poor, and my parents couldn’t afford my tuition, so I made and sold fences to pay for school. One time, I was doing farm work and cut my little finger. There was no money for treatment, so it never fully healed. I still can’t fully extend it. After I married, my husband and I were still poor. Our friends and relatives looked down on us and avoided us. When I saw the respect that rich people got, how they could feed and clothe themselves without anxiety, I envied them. People always say: “Money makes the world go round,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” and “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” Back then, I thought that all this was true. With money, you can feed and clothe yourself, and it brings you respect and admiration. I thought that money was everything. I swore to work hard and earn more money. I wanted to escape poverty, and live like a rich person.
Later, my husband and I were hired to run a school cafeteria. Hundreds of people ate there every day. To save money, we only hired one other worker. My husband and I worked from 4 a.m. to after midnight every day. I kept working even when I had a bad cold. To earn more, we also took on a lot of farm work. During the busy seasons, we worked overtime to plant and harvest everything at night. Because we were working day and night, I often had dizzy spells. Sometimes, I’d nod off while chopping vegetables, and I’d cut my hands. The cuts would get covered in salt and water. It was so painful. Even though I was so tired, every time I saw my earnings go up, I felt happy. I felt that it was all worth it. And when I saw those rich people in their fancy clothes eating and laughing, I told myself, “I must make more money!” I thought that as long as I worked hard, I’d join the ranks of the rich sooner or later.
Because of using cold water every day, I got serious rheumatoid arthritis. My joints began to deform. And because of long years of tiring work, I slipped a disc in my spine, which led to bone hyperplasia and sciatica. The doctor ordered surgery, and a three-month hospital stay, but I didn’t want to stop earning money, so I refused. Even three days would have been too long. So, I continued working day and night. In the end, because I could never eat on time or get enough sleep, I got gastroptosis and gastroenteritis. Soon after, I developed uterine myomas, ovarian prolapse, heart disease, myocarditis, and severe anemia. It was just one illness after another. The pain was too much to bear, and I couldn’t sleep at night. I shed more tears than I could count. I was at a loss. I thought: “What’s the point of living? Is it just so we can spend our lives struggling to earn money?” I didn’t have an answer. I just felt like I had to have money to achieve anything in society. So, I told myself: “As long as you’re upright, then you can keep working.” And just like that, I went back to pursuing money. But one day I went to the hospital, and was diagnosed with two forms of cancer—early-stage lung cancer and breast cancer. When they told me this, out of the blue, I felt weak. I lay on my bed and cried for hours. I went to all kinds of hospitals for treatment and spent nearly all our savings. But nothing worked, and the medicine I took caused swelling all over my body. Every night, when all was quiet, I lay in my bed and stared out the window, in a state of despair. I’d spent my life earning money, and besides not being rich, my health was ruined, and my life was miserable. What was the point in living? I didn’t want to kill myself trying to earn money anymore. But my husband loved money. He said: “As long as you’re alive, you keep working!” His indifference made me feel upset and disappointed, but mostly just helpless. I was only in my 40s. I’d never had a happy life. I hadn’t seen my son get married. I wasn’t ready to die like that. I wanted to live. But without money, how was I going to get treatment and survive? The only way was to keep earning money. So, I carried on working while I took medication.
A year later, my husband opened a coal briquette plant with the rest of our savings. The next year, he opened an oil extraction plant. Every day, I went between the two plants in spite of illness, doing odd jobs. After years of hard work, we finally made some money. We bought a house in the city, a car, and we enjoyed a good material life. Our friends and relatives fawned on us and admired us. Our social standing changed. We had a new identity. We were very pleased with ourselves. All those years of suffering finally seemed worthwhile. But good times don’t last. After so many years of hard work, my body started to break down. The doctor told me: “Your illnesses are too complex. None of your organs are working properly. There’s nothing we can do.” His words came like a death sentence. I couldn’t accept this news. Was I supposed to go home and wait to die? I had money and was enjoying my material life. But what use was that? No amount of money could save me now. The pain of disease almost made me want to die. What else could I do? In spite of myself, I looked up and cried: “Heavens! Save me!”
At my most desperate moment, my friend shared Almighty God’s gospel of the last days with me. She said that God has become flesh in the last days to save mankind, express the truth, and uncover life’s mysteries. He reveals the source of evil and darkness in the world, why our lives are so empty and so full of suffering, where sicknesses come from, in whose hands our fate is held, what can truly give our lives meaning, and more. What’s more, she said that by reading His words and understanding the truth, we can see through to these things, then our suffering will alleviate. My friend read a passage of Almighty God’s words to me, “What is the source of the lifelong suffering from birth, death, illness, and old age that humans endure? What caused people to have these things? Humans did not have them when they were first created, did they? Where, then, did these things come from? They came into being after humans were tempted by Satan and their flesh 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 they felt less and less hope for the world. Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan” (“The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days).
My friend then said in fellowship: “When God made us, we all lived under His protection, living freely in the Garden of Eden, without death, disease, or worries. But when Satan tempted and corrupted humanity, we betrayed God and lost His care and protection. We live in Satan’s domain, according to Satan’s principles. We compete with one another, lying, cheating and fighting, for fame, and wealth, and status. This is where sickness and the pain and sorrow in our spirits come from. And this suffering, these worries, make everyone feel that life is too painful, too exhausting, or too hard. All this has come about because Satan has corrupted us. This is Satan tormenting us. But God has come to the world in the flesh in order to save us. He expresses all truths that enable us to attain salvation and be purified. If we read God’s words and live by them, we can obtain His protection and guidance, rid ourselves of corruption and attain God’s salvation, and be brought by Him into our final destination.” Hearing her words, I felt a kind of hope. I felt that Almighty God could save me from suffering, so I agreed to look into Almighty God’s work. My friend gave me a copy of The Word Appears in the Flesh. After that, I read God’s words every day, and met with my brothers and sisters.
During my devotionals one day, I watched a video of a reading of God’s words. Almighty God says, “Whatever your background, and whatever the journey ahead of you, no one can escape the orchestrations and arrangements of the Heaven, and no one is in control of their own destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work. Since the day man came into existence, God has ever worked thus, managing the universe, directing the rules of change for all things and the trajectory of their movement. Like all things, man is quietly and unknowingly nourished by the sweetness and rain and dew from God; like all things, man unknowingly lives beneath the orchestration of God’s hand. Man’s heart and spirit are held in the hand of God, everything of his life is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I watched this video, I saw that God is our Creator and He rules over everything. God supplies and nourishes all of humanity. Our destiny, our life and death, and our happiness rests in the palm of His hand. We can’t change them just by keeping busy and rushing about. But I didn’t understand God’s sovereignty. I had tried relying on my own strength to change my destiny, trying to become wealthy. But even though I earned a bit of money, I never felt happy. My soul was in pain, and my health was ruined. That’s when I realized: If people don’t believe in and worship God, and if they don’t obey His sovereignty, and if they resist their fate out of desire, they will only suffer in vain, and will go to hell after they die. I knew then that God was my only true support, and I prayed and entrusted my health to Him. Whether I lived or died, I would submit to God’s sovereignty.
I joined in with the church life often after that. I saw how my brothers and sisters read God’s words and pursued the truth, seeking to do their duty and please God, and I really admired them. I wanted to break free from my old life, and live anew. So I prayed to God often, asking God to give me a way out so I would have more time to attend gatherings and do my duty. Later, our oil extraction plant was requisitioned to build a new road. I didn’t need to go back and forth between the two plants like before. I had more time to meet with others and fellowship God’s word, to contemplate God’s word, and to get closer to God. I felt enriched every day. A while after that, my health began to get much better. I felt energized, and my body felt stronger. I felt much more relaxed and at ease. I was so grateful to God.
Later, I watched another video of a reading of God’s words. Almighty God says, “‘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? … So after Satan uses this trend to corrupt people, how is it manifested in them? 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? Moreover, do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is this not a loss for people? (Yes.) Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick?” (“God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After watching this, I understood that these decades I had spent in pain and exhaustion was because Satan’s corruption and society’s influence had led me to follow worldly trends and worship money. During my childhood, living in poverty, I had been excluded and looked down on. When I saw rich people, who lived well and inspired respect, I felt sure that you needed money to live in this world. “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” “Money makes the world go round,” “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” “Money is first,” and “Man will do anything to get rich.” These satanic fallacies took root in my heart and controlled my thoughts. I thought that money was everything, that it could make me admired, respected, and happy. I made money my only goal, and only cared about earning more. I didn’t care if I felt dizzy or if I was tired, or sick, and my body couldn’t take it. When I thought about becoming wealthy, and living a rich person’s life, I just gritted my teeth and carried on. Even when I got cancer, it changed nothing. In fact, it made money even more important, because I needed it to get treatment and survive. Even then, I didn’t stop trying to earn money. I’d become firmly bound by Satan, and was nothing but a slave to money. Even though I had a car, a house, and some money, and was held in respect and admiration, I didn’t feel happy at all. I had many diseases, and also had cancer. My money couldn’t alleviate my pain, and it couldn’t save my life. I felt great pain and despair. More money would have been of no use. Before, I had traded my life for money. Now I was buying my life with it. I had lived to make money, but I had come up empty-handed. I saw clearly, then, that pursuing money was the wrong way to live. Money is a trick that Satan uses to harm and corrupt us. It’s a yoke Satan places around our necks. If it weren’t for God’s word, even now I wouldn’t have seen how Satan uses money to tie us up, to control us, and hurt us, and Satan would still be leading me by the nose, tormenting and toying with me. I saw that people didn’t understand the truth, so they didn’t know how to live. They just followed the crowd, putting money first. It’s such a shame. I was so lucky to hear God’s voice, to go before Him and escape Satan’s abuse. This was God’s salvation and my heart was full of gratitude toward Him.
Later, when my husband went out on a supply run, I would have to work in the plant. Sometimes, it happened to be our meeting time. Although I participated, I felt agitated. I felt guilty in my heart. I thought of how I’d made myself ill because of earning money. The doctor had given me a death sentence. It was God who had saved me when I was on the brink of death and given me a second chance. But I couldn’t do my duty and repay His love. I felt that I owed God. I thought of what the Lord Jesus said: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). And in 1 Timothy 6:8 it says: “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” What’s the point of earning more money, if it means you lose your life? I thought about renting out the coal plant. I’d earn less money, but still enough to live on, and I could then worship God and do my duty. But I had second thoughts. The coal plant was doing so well, and it had been so hard to get the business started. It seemed a shame to just give it up. I hesitated. I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed for God’s help.
One day, I read this in God’s words: “But 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” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading God’s words, I thought of the satanic rules of life I’d relied on before, trying to become rich. I’d believed that “Money makes the world go round” and “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing.” In order to be rich, and to earn people’s respect, I’d had to struggle for money. Those days had been painful and miserable. Was money that important? What could it really give me? It could buy a house, a car, it could help me live a good material life, and bring me respect, and it could bring me temporary fleshly enjoyment. But it couldn’t fill the emptiness in my heart, or stop my pain, it couldn’t bring me peace or joy, it couldn’t end my suffering from disease, and it couldn’t save my life. I thought of my local school’s principal. He’d had money and status but had died of cancer. Money and status couldn’t help him escape suffering and death. I’d heard of rich people who lived lives of pain and emptiness, and killed themselves in order to end it, as well as people who have lied, cheated, fought, and defrauded others, losing all humanity and conscience, just for money. All these stories, and my own personal experience, allowed me to see that chasing monetary gain only makes people more corrupt, and more decadent. It takes them away from God and toward sin. I thought of Job, who didn’t seek money or material comforts. Job yielded to God’s sovereignty, and sought to know His deeds within all things, and, in the end, gained God’s blessing. I thought of how, when Jesus called him, Peter cast all else aside to follow God. He sought to know God, and love God, and God perfected him, and he led a meaningful life. From this, I realized that knowing God, worshiping Him, living in line with His word, and gaining His praise, are the most important things in life. It was hard for me to find faith and find the right path. I knew if I continued chasing wealth and earthly delights, and gave up my pursuit of the truth and salvation, it would be foolish. When I thought of this, I felt calm. I didn’t want to be a slave to money anymore. I just wanted more time and energy to pursue the truth. After that, I discussed renting out the plant with my husband. With help from God’s wondrous orchestrations, we rented it out. I was able to attend gatherings regularly and do my duty.
Two years later, my husband caught a sudden illness, and died. His passing was difficult for me and showed me how fragile life is. My husband spent most of his life rushing about, trying to make money. His blood pressure was over 200, but he kept working. When he fractured his hip, he went back to work before full recovery, and wouldn’t rest when I urged him. He was a slave to money, too. He was controlled and harmed by Satan his whole life. He wouldn’t give up, even in the face of death. He wanted to earn money and live the good life, but he lost his life. Fame and wealth couldn’t save him or ease his pain or help him cheat death. It’s like God says: “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” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Looking back on how I spent most of my life running around, trying to make money, I saw that though I gained respect and admiration, I was tortured by Satan to within an inch of my life. But God saved me. He saved me from the maelstrom of money and changed my direction in life. Now, as I pursue the truth and do my duty, I feel free and at peace. This is something that money can’t buy. I’m thankful to Almighty God for saving me!