By Mingli, United States
In real life, we often encounter something unpleasant, such as setbacks in our work, our bosses’ criticism, quarrels with our spouses, sudden disasters at home, or bad personal relationships.
When faced with such things, we often complain and say, “O Lord, I believe in You and expend and sacrifice for You. So why don’t You protect me and my family?”
The Bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Actually, the Lord allowing such environments to befall us isn’t to make us suffer, but to edify us. It depends on whether we are able to experience. I once complained about God because of my mother’s illness, but through the fellowship of my church brothers and sisters, I knew how to experience unfortunate things. Below, I’d like to fellowship on three paths I’ve summarized; I hope they can be helpful to you.
1. Obey and Seek God’s Will
God’s words say, “For example: Something happens that requires you to endure hardship, at which time you should understand what God’s will is and how you should be mindful of His will. You must not satisfy yourself: First put yourself to one side. Nothing is more abject than the flesh. You must seek to satisfy God, and you must fulfill your duty. With such thoughts, God will bring especial enlightenment to you in this matter, and your heart will also find comfort.”
God’s words tell us that when things don’t go our way, we should first quiet ourselves before God and seek His will. This is the only way God will enlighten and guide us, and allow us to understand His will clearly and have a way forward. At the same time, this can prevent us from complaining, blaming God and offending God’s disposition.
For example, when Job faced unfortunate events—his property was stolen, his children met unfortunate ends, and his whole body broke out in painful boils—although he didn’t understand God’s will, he could obey with a God-fearing heart. He didn’t speak sinfully, but instead prostrated himself on the ground to seek. Then he realized that the things befalling him were not incidental, but were God’s work coming upon him. Coming to this realization, he said from the bottom of his heart, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He always trod the path of fearing God and shunning evil. Ultimately, he bore a resounding witness for God, was separated from the bondage of Satan, and gained redoubled blessings from God.
Job’s experience helps us understand that when facing something undesirable, we should quiet ourselves and seek God’s will. Only in this way can we ensure that we don’t speak sinfully and can we receive God’s enlightenment and have the faith to stand testimony.
Some time ago, my sister in mainland China said to me in tears that our mother was seriously ill and was receiving emergency treatment. At first, I wasn’t worried, thinking that since my mother believed in God, God would protect her. However, when I received her photo from my sister and saw her lying in a hospital bed, weak and pale, I became very worried that she would leave us, and I began to complain about God. Besides, I no longer expended for God so vigorously, nor did I want to come before God to pray. My spirit sank and I lived in pain and darkness.
Later, through my church sister’s warning and help, I came before God to seek and pray: “O God, my mother is seriously ill. I’m quite worried and sad, so much so that I begin to blame You. I see my stature is too small. I don’t know what lessons I should be learning in this situation, but I believe there is Your good will. I’m willing to obey. May You enlighten and guide me.” After praying this way, my heart gradually calmed down.
2. Reflect on the Impurities in Our Belief in God
God’s words say, “You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. If you do not worship God but live within your filthy flesh, then are you not just a beast in human attire? Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter.”
“Most people believe in God for the sake of peace and other benefits. Unless it is to your benefit, you do not believe in God, and if you cannot receive God’s graces, you fall into a sulk. How could what you have said be your true stature? When it comes to inevitable family incidents such as children falling ill, loved ones being hospitalized, poor crop yields, and persecution by family members, even these oft-occurring, quotidian matters are too much for you. When such things happen, you are thrown into a panic, you do not know what to do—and most of the time, you complain about God. You complain that God’s words tricked you, that God’s work made a mockery of you. Do you not have such thoughts?”
We humans were created by God. Having faith, worshiping God and expending for Him is right and proper, and we should believe in and worship Him no matter whether He blesses and protects us—only this is a created being with conscience and reason. After we have been corrupted by Satan, however, we all live by Satan’s logic and law of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and it has made us become incredibly selfish and self-seeking. Even our believing in God, forsaking and expending for Him are making deals with Him. We think that since we run and expend for God, He should bless us and ensure that everything goes smoothly for us. Think about it: When nothing unpleasant happens to us, all of us are full of faith in God and willing to give up anything and expend everything for God’s work. But when we encounter unhappy incidents, such as our parents or children falling ill, and problems in business, we become negative and weak, blame and misunderstand God, and lose faith. This shows that the viewpoints and motives of our faith are incorrect. When we come to this realization, we will know that God’s intention is to purify and perfect us and then we will not blame God.
I also reflected on how I blamed God because of my mother’s sickness, and realized that my believing in and expending for God contained my own motives and goals. I wanted to exchange some minor expenditure for God’s great blessings. This was attempting to trade with God. That was why I complained about God when my mother fell ill. Without being revealed by this environment, I would still consider myself loyal to God. I saw that God had permitted this environment to befall me to cleanse and change me. But I hadn’t understood God’s good intentions and had even blamed Him—it was really very wrong.
When I reflected on all these things, I really perceived that God’s great love was hidden behind this unhappy situation, and my heart was full of gratitude to God.
3. Learn to Experience God’s Work
It says in Sermons and Fellowship: “Many problems with mankind, such as their corruption, notions and imaginations, can only be resolved after enduring suffering. Without suffering, there is no transformation, so suffering is necessary. Therefore, God’s methods for saving man are destined to be judgment and chastisement, pruning and dealing, and trials and refinements to resolve mankind’s corruption. It is decided based on the actual circumstances of corrupt mankind; it isn’t decided by any man. From our years of experience of believing in God, we can verify: For the deeply corrupted mankind to attain salvation, they must experience pruning and dealing, God’s judgment and chastisement, and various trials and refinements. These three things are key ways of God saving mankind; each of them is indispensable.”
It’s said in the Bible, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them” (Zechariah 13:9).
Actually, tribulation is one of the means by which God saves us. When nothing happens to us, all of us are full of faith in God, have a lot of knowledge of God’s words, and think ourselves to be the most loyal and the most obedient to God. But when encountering something unpleasant, we become negative and weak and complain about God. This shows that we don’t have the truth as our life, have too little faith and possess many corrupt dispositions. If God doesn’t arrange various arduous environments to reveal us, and if we live constantly within a comfortable environment and enjoy God’s grace and blessings, then we won’t be clear on how great our stature is, nor will we recognize our corruptions. So, God has to use arduous environments to refine and change us, just like iron must be tempered repeatedly to be turned into quality steel.
Therefore, when faced with unhappy situations, we should focus on experiencing God’s work and recognizing our various corrupt dispositions and wrong views on faith. Only in this way can we receive rewards from believing in God and progress in life.
For instance, the issue of my mother being ill, on the one hand, revealed that my desire to gain blessings through faith was too strong; on the other hand, it revealed that my belief in God was too meager—I was afraid that my mother would leave us and didn’t believe that her illness was in God’s hands.
Afterward, I prayed to God and entrusted my mother to God’s hands. Gradually, my state improved a lot and my spirit gained relaxation and freedom. I also wrote to my mother and told her to pray, rely on God and learn lessons in her illness. Thank God! When I truly came before God and was willing to obey God’s orchestrations regardless of my mother’s condition, a few days later my mother was discharged and gradually recovered.
Through this experience, I have appreciated that when something trying happens, as long as we come before God with a pure heart, seek God’s will and practice according to God’s words, we will be able to live in a free and unrestrained way.
When encountering situations of suffering, you can practice according to these three paths. I believe you can also gain God’s guidance, walk out of these situations and reap some results. May God bless you, Amen!