Bye, the Previous Miserable Life

By Jingxin

Xiaodan had been living with her aunt since young because her father died untimely and her mother married again. Her childhood was tough, with three meals of pickles every day. There were a few children in her aunt’s family and they were not rich. Even though there was some delicious food and nice clothes sometimes, they were not for Xiaodan and she could only look at them with longing eyes. Xiaodan was envious of the life of the rich, and dreamed that she would work hard to make money when she grew up, so that she could eat and wear whatever she liked and live a good life, and would no longer need to envy others.

Time flew and Xiaodan grew up. She couldn’t wait and found a job. Then she got married to Achao and had a son and a daughter, having a happy family. However, Xiaodan had hoped for a good life since young and was not satisfied with this, and she wouldn’t like her children to have the same experience as her. So, she as well as her husband worked hard for a better life. Once, Achao got the news that it paid well to be a laborer in Iraq and he wanted to go there to work. However, Xiaodan heard that the living conditions there were quite hard and she didn’t want her husband to go. Achao said to her, “We have to work hard ourselves for a better life.” Thinking of her dream, Xiaodan agreed. After Achao left, Xiaodan took care of the kids and supported the family alone. She worked for other people during the day and ran a tailor’s business at night.

Two years later, Achao came back. He furnished their home with eight pieces of furniture, something that could be boasted about in the early of 1980s in China. Their living standard improved, and they could eat fish and meat every day. Moreover, Xiaodan generously gave each friend and relative a piece of new clothes. She was surrounded by envy from people around. During that time, Xiaodan felt honey-like sweetness in her heart and smiled all the time. She felt that it was so good to be rich and that the efforts of her and her husband were worthwhile.

Later, Xiaodan’s tailoring business was getting better and better and she could make as much as one month’s salary by working as a tailor in one or two days. She wanted to make more money and buy a big house. Then she resigned and devoted herself to the tailoring business. To make more money, Xiaodan worked from very early in the morning and finished at night. She kept receiving orders and worked like a machine. Sometimes, when she felt too tired and had to rest, she just leaned on the sewing machine for a little nap and then continued working. After years of hard work, Xiaodan and her husband got 3 houses. However, Xiaodan was riddled with diseases: slipped discs, stomach problems, neck conditions, tenosynovitis, dizziness…. Xiaodan was tortured by these diseases and often couldn’t sleep at night. But she thought that she was able to endure the torment of the diseases since she was still young and that it was more important to make more money.

When Xiaodan was enjoying her beautiful life, a piece of bad news came to her suddenly: Achao got esophageal cancer. Xiaodan couldn’t accept the brutal fact. She remembered that Achao mentioned to her when he came back from abroad: “The conditions there were too hard. Less-fit people died there directly due to exhaustion and diseases. Some people died shortly after returning home.” Therefore, Xiaodan thought that Achao’s disease might be due to the labor work abroad. Besides the pain, she tried everything to cure Achao. As long as Achao could recover, she was willing to sell all the houses and spend all their savings.

Sick in bed, Achao said to Xiaodan weakly: “We have worked so hard for most of our lives to have a better life. But the good life didn’t last long. I’ve got the incurable disease and you also have many diseases. What’s the point of working so hard?” After hearing these words from Achao, Xiaodan regretted so much and wished they could go back to the beginning and start all over again. If she could choose again, she wouldn’t agree to let Achao go abroad to work for money. However, there was no drug that cured regret in the world. Achao suffered the disease for five years and much of their savings was consumed. Eventually, he died.

The living people suffered the departure of their loved ones. Xiaodan often muttered: “What’s the point of having money? It cannot be exchanged for life.” The marks of time were etched on Xiaodan’s face. She had not recovered from the departure of her husband, and yet was attacked by her diseases. Xiaodan sought medical treatment around and spent lots of money. However, it didn’t help, and finally the doctor gave her a verdict: “Your diseases cannot be cured, and medicines can only relieve your pains temporarily.” The physical and mental blow made Xiaodan feel despair and pain. She even felt that her life had become meaningless and the thought of suicide came into her mind. But thinking of her kids, her heart got softened and she didn’t want them to be orphans. For the kids, Xiaodan had to live with pain. She could not help but lament: “Life is short, like a dream. People work hard for money when they are alive, but they cannot take anything with them when they leave the world. Like a lost traveler, one idles away a life of several decades on earth and then hurriedly departs. What’s the point of it? Is it only for a visit to the world?” Without an answer to that, she only struggled in endless pain and confusion …

By chance, Xiaodan read some words from God: “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”). After reading these words, Xiaodan recalled that she had yearned for a good life since childhood. She thought she could fulfill the dream only through working hard and making money, and regarded the dictums of “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” “Money is first,” and “Money makes the mare go” as principles of her life. Looking back on all these years, she had worked day and night to make money and treated herself as a machine. Even though suffering many diseases, she rarely rested. Money satisfied her desires for big houses, compliments, and admiration from people around. As a result, she worked even harder and labored tirelessly in pursuit of money. Gradually she became a slave to money. When she saw her husband’s death and suffered from the pains from diseases, she realized that the pursuit of money was empty. It didn’t give her a happy life, but made her suffer the loss of her loved one and the torment of diseases. After going through these things, she had come to understand that no matter how much wealth a person had, it didn’t mean that he lived a valuable and meaningful life. Money was so pitiful and inconsequential in the face of death, and so futile and worthless in the face of disease. People could sacrifice their health for money, but money could never be exchanged for their lives or get their health back.

It took over half her life for Xiaodan to perceive the emptiness of pursuing money, while these words clearly and thoroughly explained the essence of pursuing money. She felt like she had found the direction to move in and started to read God’s words eagerly. Later, she read the following words of God: “When one does not have God, when one cannot see Him, when one cannot clearly recognize God’s sovereignty, every day is meaningless, worthless, miserable. Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and suffering without relief, such that one cannot bear to look back on one’s past. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life will one gradually begin to break free from all heartbreak and suffering, and to be rid of all the emptiness of life.” “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”). At the moment, Xiaodan finally understood: The reason she had been pursuing a wrong goal and living so painfully was because she had been tempted and harmed by various poisons of Satan and accepted the wrong view on life instilled by Satan. Thinking money could bring them a wonderful tomorrow and a life where they were above others, she and her husband persistently chased after money and fame, trying to create happiness by themselves and cast off God’s sovereignty. In the end, even though there was money, houses, and fame with them, these things couldn’t save her husband’s life or get her health back, much less give them the dreamed happiness. Then she realized that wealth and fame are the snares Satan sets to harm humanity. Satan uses these things to bind and afflict man. Once people fall into the trap, they will chase after such empty things and gain nothing except endless emptiness and pain. Xiaodan found a way from God’s words. She was willing to give up her previous means of living and pursuit of goals, come before God, calmly accept and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, so as to break free from all heartbreak and suffering. That’s because she knew that man’s life comes from God, that the future and destiny of man are in the hands of God, and that how much wealth one will have depends on the predestination of God. After understanding all this, she got relieved …

After a while, Xiaodan profoundly understood that as a creature, only by accepting God’s work and words, pursuing the truth and obtaining life from God, can they live a valuable and meaningful life. Xiaodan decided not to live like before and was content with having food to eat and clothes to wear. She would like to entrust the rest of her life to God and perform a creature’s duties for a real life. With God’s presence, Xiaodan felt less sad and smiled more. Every day she was relaxed, peaceful and secure. It surprised her that her incurable diseases gradually disappeared and she recovered. She experienced in person God’s amazing deeds. It was God’s love that helped her, who was once lost, find the right path of life, return before God’s throne and gain His salvation.