6. What Kind of Suffering Believers of God Must Bear and the Meaning of Suffering.
Relevant Words of God:
Today, most people don’t have that knowledge. They believe that suffering is without value, they are renounced by the world, their home life is troubled, they are not beloved of God, and their prospects are bleak. The suffering of some people reaches a certain point, and their thoughts turn to death. This is not the true love of God; such people are cowards, they have no perseverance, they are weak and powerless! God is eager for man to love Him, but the more man loves Him, the greater man’s suffering, and the more man loves Him, the greater man’s trials. If you love Him, then every kind of suffering will befall you—and if you don’t, then perhaps everything will go smoothly for you, and all will be peaceful around you. When you love God, you will feel that much around you is insurmountable, and because your stature is too small you will be refined, and incapable of satisfying God; you will feel that God’s will is too lofty, that it is beyond the reach of man. Because of all this you will be refined—because there is much weakness within you, and much that is incapable of satisfying the will of God, you will be refined inside. Yet you must clearly see that purification is only achieved through refinement. Thus, during these last days you must bear testimony to God. No matter how great your suffering, you should go on to the very end, and even at your last breath, still you must be faithful to God, and at the mercy of God; only this is truly loving God, and only this is the strong and resounding testimony. When you are tempted, you should say: “My heart belongs to God, and God has already gained me. I cannot satisfy you—I must devote my all to satisfying God.” The more you satisfy God, the more God blesses you, and the greater the strength of your love for God; so, too, will you have faith and resolve, and will feel that nothing is more worthy or significant than a life spent loving God. It can be said that man has but to love God to be without sorrow. Although there are times when your flesh is weak and you are beset by many real troubles, during these times you will truly rely on God, and within your spirit you will be consoled, and you will feel certainty, and that you have something to depend upon. In this way, you will be able to overcome many environments, and so you will not complain about God because of the anguish that you suffer; you will want to sing, dance, and pray, to assemble and commune, to give thought to God, and you will feel that all the people, matters, and things around you that are organized by God are fitting. If you do not love God, all that you look upon will be irksome to you, nothing will be pleasing to your eyes; in your spirit you will not be free but downtrodden, your heart will always complain about God, and you will always feel that you suffer so much torment, and that it is so unjust. If you do not pursue for the sake of happiness, but in order to satisfy God and to not be accused by Satan, then such pursuit will give you great strength to love God. Man is able to carry out all that is spoken by God, and all that he does is able to satisfy God—this is what it means to be possessed of reality. Pursuing the satisfaction of God is using the love of God to put His words into practice; regardless of the time—even when others are without strength—inside of you there is still a heart which loves God, which profoundly yearns for God, and misses God. This is real stature. Just how great your stature is depends on how great your love of God is, on whether you are able to stand fast when tested, whether you are weak when a certain environment comes upon you, and whether you can stand your ground when your brothers and sisters reject you; the arrival of the facts will show just what your love of God is like. It can be seen from much of God’s work that God really does love man, it’s just that the eyes of man’s spirit have yet to be completely opened, and he is unable to see through to much of the work of God, and the will of God, and the many things which are lovely about God; man has too little true love for God. You’ve believed in God throughout all this time, and today God has cut off all means of escape. Realistically speaking, you have no choice but to take the right path, the right path that you have been led on to by the harsh judgment and supreme salvation of God. Only after experiencing hardship and refinement does man know that God is lovely. Having experienced up until today, it can be said that man has come to know part of God’s loveliness—but this is still not enough, because man is so lacking. He must experience more of God’s wondrous work, and more of all the refinement of suffering set out by God. Only then can man’s life disposition be changed.
from “Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
281 Bitterness Is One of God’s Blessings
1. Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, God will reveal to you, God will reveal to you. The road to the kingdom is not that smooth, nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come easy. Today everyone will have bitter trials to face, otherwise the loving heart you have for God will not grow stronger and you will not have true love, oh, not have true love for God. Even if it is just minor circumstances, everyone must get through them, it’s just that they differ to some degree. Ah, the circumstance is one of God’s blessings, how many, oh, how many often kneel before God to ask for His blessing?
2. You always feel that a few lucky words count as God’s blessing, yet don’t feel that bitterness is one of His blessings. Those who share in His bitterness shall certainly share His sweet. That is God’s promise and His blessings to you. You must sacrifice everything to protect God’s testimony. This shall be the goal of your actions, do not forget this. But now, you are lacking in faith, oh, lacking in faith and the ability to differentiate things and you are always unable to understand God’s word and His intentions. Nonetheless, do not be anxious. Spend more time before God and do not pay attention to food and clothing for the physical body. Seek God’s intentions often, and He will clearly show you what they are. Gradually you will find His intentions in everything, so that He will have a way to go in everyone with no obstructions. It shall satisfy God’s heart and you shall receive blessings with Him forever and ever, oh, forever and ever!
from Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
Most people now believe in God but have not yet entered the right track. They still feel very empty and listless, sometimes even feeling like all of living is suffering, all emptiness—even wishing to die! This is how a person is before his heart has vision. Such a person has not obtained truth and does not yet know God, so he still does not feel much internal pleasure. Especially you who have all suffered persecution and difficulty returning home, you suffer and also have thoughts of death and an unwillingness to live; this is the weakness of the flesh. Some people even think that if they believe in God then they should feel pleasure within them. In the Age of Grace the Holy Spirit still bestowed peace and joy upon people. Now there is too little peace and joy; there is not pleasure like there was during the Age of Grace. Believing in God today is too vexing. You only know that the pleasure of the flesh is better than anything else. You don’t know what God is working today. God allows your flesh to suffer in order to transform your disposition. Even though your flesh suffers, you have God’s word and you have God’s blessing. You can’t die even if you want to: Can you resign yourself to not knowing God and not obtaining truth? Now mainly it’s just that you haven’t yet obtained truth, and you don’t have life. Now you are in the midst of the process of seeking salvation, so you must suffer some during this period. Today everyone throughout the world is tried: God is still suffering—is it right that you do not suffer? Without the refining that comes through great disasters there cannot be genuine faith, and truth and life will not be obtained. Not having trials and refinement would not do. … Is not the suffering you encounter now the very same suffering of God? You are suffering together with God, and God is with people in their suffering, right? Today you all have a part in Christ’s tribulation, kingdom, and patience, and then, in the end you will obtain glory! This kind of suffering is meaningful, isn’t it? Not having resolve will not do. You must understand the significance of today’s suffering and why you must suffer so. Seek a little truth from this and understand a little of God’s intention, and then you will have the resolve to endure suffering. If you do not understand God’s intention and only ruminate on your suffering, then the more you think about it the harder it will be to bear—that is a bother…. So, now all these things must be seen clearly, and truth must be understood from these things. When people have truth, they have strength. When they have truth, their bodies are filled with inexhaustible energy. When they have truth, they have will. Without truth, they are like the limp dregs of tofu. With truth, they are firm and emboldened, and they do not feel their suffering as suffering no matter how much they endure. What does this suffering of yours amount to? The incarnate God is still suffering! You are people corrupted by Satan with a nature that rebels against God. You have all unconsciously done many things disobeying God, in resistance to God. You should be judged and should be chastised. A sick person cannot fear suffering when he is treated, so is it right for you, who want your corrupt dispositions transformed and to gain life, not to suffer a little? Your sufferings should be borne; they must be borne. These sufferings do not fall upon innocence, and even more so they are not forced on you. What you suffer now is nothing more than the difficulty of frequent travel and a little tiredness from your work. Sometimes you undergo some refining in God’s word. Sometimes you become aware of your own corruptness and feel like you never change, and you are somewhat tormented by your corrupt nature. Sometimes there is a part of God’s word you can never understand, or your heart is pierced while you read God’s word, and you feel pained. Or, you do your work poorly and always make mistakes, blaming yourself, hating that you can’t fight through it and that you can’t do the work. You suffer in all these ways, and sometimes you see others progress and feel like your own progression is too slow, that you receive God’s word too slowly, that light is too infrequent. You suffer some in these ways; what other suffering is there besides these kinds? You aren’t made to do any heavy labor, and you don’t have superiors or bosses beating you and cursing you, and no one is enslaving you. You’re not suffering any of that, are you? Those hardships you suffer really aren’t actual hardship. Think about that for a minute—is that not the case? Sometimes your environment threatens you, putting your mind in a state of anxiety, keeping you from rest, and you suffer a little living in fear. You must understand what is the meaning of your giving up your family and expending yourselves for God and why you want to do this. If it is to seek truth, to seek life, and to do a little to fulfill your duty and repay God’s love, then that is completely righteous, a positive thing, just and proper. In that case, you will never have regrets, and you will be able to let your family go regardless of the situation. Is this not the case? If you are clear on this significance then you will not have regrets, and you will not become negative. If, however, you do not come out to expend yourself for God, then it is meaningless, and you should quickly return, and once you see the matter clearly the problem will be resolved and there will be no need to worry; all is in God’s hands.
Now you all undergo some hardships of trials. Some of you possess some truth; some none. Some receive it this way; others receive it that way. No matter how you receive it, as long as there is truth within you and you receive it the right way, your suffering will have meaning and value, you will have determination, and you can make it to the end. If you don’t receive the truth but only man’s notions and imaginations, then your suffering has no value because you have not obtained truth.
from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!
from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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 must fulfill your duty. With such thoughts, God will bring especial enlightenment to you in this matter, and your heart will also find comfort. Be it big or small, when something happens to you, you must first put yourself to one side and regard the flesh as the most lowly of all things. The more you satisfy the flesh, the more liberties it takes; if you satisfy it this time, next time it will ask for more, and as this carries on, you come to love the flesh even more. The flesh always has extravagant desires, it always asks that you satisfy it, and that you gratify it within, whether it be in the things you eat, what you wear, or in flying off the handle, or pandering to your own weaknesses and laziness…. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater its desires become, and the more debauched the flesh becomes, until it gets to the point when people’s flesh harbors even deeper conceptions, and disobeys God, and exalts itself, and becomes doubtful about the work of God. … It is said that there was once a farmer who saw a snake on the road that was frozen stiff. The farmer picked it up and held it to his breast, and after the snake was revived it bit the farmer to death. Man’s flesh is like the snake: Its essence is to harm their lives—and when it completely gets its own way, your life becomes forfeit. The flesh belongs to Satan. Within it are extravagant desires, it thinks only for itself, it wants to enjoy comfort, and revel in leisure, wallowing in sloth and idleness, and having satisfied it to a certain point you will ultimately be eaten up by it. Which is to say, if you satisfy it this time, next time it will come asking for more. It always has extravagant desires and new demands, and takes advantage of your pandering to the flesh to make you cherish it even more and live among its comforts—and if you don’t overcome it, you will ultimately forfeit yourself. Whether you can gain life before God, and what your ultimate end will be, depends on how you carry out your rebellion against the flesh. God has saved you, and chosen and predestined you, yet if today you are unwilling to satisfy Him, you are unwilling to put the truth into practice, you are unwilling to rebel against your own flesh with a heart that truly loves God, ultimately you will ruin yourself, and will thus endure extreme pain. If you always pander to the flesh, Satan will gradually gobble you up inside, and leave you without life, or the touch of the Spirit, until the day comes when you are completely dark inside. When you live in darkness, you will have been taken captive by Satan, you will no longer have God, and at that time you will deny God’s existence and leave Him.
from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men, and the interference of men. Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle.
from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God asks people to put the truth into practice primarily to deal with the things inside them, to deal with their thoughts, and their conceptions that aren’t after God’s heart. The Holy Spirit touches people inside, and carries out His work within them, and so behind everything that happens is a battle: Every time people put the truth into practice, or put the love of God into practice, there is a great battle, and though all may seem well with their flesh, in the depths of their hearts a life-and-death battle will, in fact, be going on—and only after this intense battle, after a tremendous amount of reflection, can victory or defeat be decided. One does not know whether to laugh or cry. Because many of the motivations within people are wrong, or else because much of God’s work is at odds with their conceptions, when people put the truth into practice a great battle is waged behind the scenes. Having put this truth into practice, behind the scenes people will have shed countless tears of sadness before finally making up their mind to satisfy God. It is because of this battle that people endure suffering and refinement; this is true suffering. When the battle comes upon you, if you are able to truly stand on the side of God, you will be able to satisfy God. Suffering in the course of practicing the truth is inevitable; if, when they put the truth into practice, everything within them were right, then they would not need to be made perfect by God, and there would be no battle, and they would not suffer. It is because there are many things within people that are not fit for use by God, and much of the rebellious disposition of the flesh, that people need to learn the lesson of rebelling against the flesh more profoundly. This is what God calls the “suffering” that He asked man to undergo with Him.
from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
To see if you have God’s approval it is mainly to look at things such as whether you have the Holy Spirit working on you, if the Holy Spirit enlightens you and guides you, and if you are accompanied by some grace. When some people first started out they were full of energy, as though they would never run out when they began performing their duty. But how come as they go along they seem to lose that energy? The person they were then and the person they are now are like two different people. Why did they change? What was the reason? It is because their faith in God went the wrong way before it got on the right track. They chose the wrong path. There was something hidden inside their initial pursuit, and at a key moment that thing emerged. What was hidden? It’s an anticipation that lies inside their hearts while they believe in God, the anticipation that the day of God is arriving soon so that their misery will be at an end; the anticipation that God will be transfigured and that all of their suffering will be over. They all look forward to the day when they can return home to reunite with their families, when there is no more persecution, when they are completely free, when they can openly believe in God without any restrictions by others, and everyone can live in a comfortable environment where they can dress well and eat well. Don’t you all have this hope? These thoughts exist in the depths of all your hearts because man’s flesh isn’t willing to suffer and looks forward to better days whenever it goes through suffering. These things won’t be revealed without the right[a] conditions. When there’s no situation, everyone will seem particularly fine, appear to especially have stature, understand the truth rather well, and seem exceptionally full of energy. One day, when a situation arises, all of these thoughts will come out. Your mind will begin to struggle, and some will start to head downhill. This is not to say that God doesn’t open up a way out for you, or that God doesn’t give you His grace, and certainly not that God is inconsiderate toward your difficulties. It’s that enduring this pain now is your blessing, because you must withstand such suffering to be saved and survive, and it is predestined. So for this suffering to befall you is your blessing. … the meaning behind it is too deep, too significant.
from “Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks
You should always be cautious. Though you live in a filthy place you are untainted with filth and can live alongside God, receiving His great protection. You have been chosen among all on this yellow land. Aren’t you the most blessed people? As a created being, you should of course worship God and pursue a meaningful life. If you don’t worship God and live in the filthy flesh, then aren’t you just a beast in human attire? As a human being, you should expend 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, like Peter. In this world, man wears the devil’s clothing, eats food given by the devil, and works and serves under the devil’s thumb, becoming trampled in its filth. If you don’t grasp the meaning of life or the true way, then what is the point of your life? You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Isn’t that the most meaningful life?
from “Practice (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
(Selected Passage of God’s Word)
Is the Work of God So Simple as Man Imagines?
As one who believes in God, you should understand that, today, in receiving the work of God in the last days and all the work of God’s plan in you, you have really received great exaltation and salvation from God. All of God’s work in the entire universe has focused on this group of people. He has devoted all His efforts to you and sacrificed all for you; He has reclaimed and given to you all the work of the Spirit throughout the universe. That is why I say, you are the fortunate. Moreover, He has shifted His glory from Israel, His chosen people, to you, in order to make the purpose of His plan fully manifest through you group of people. Therefore, you are those who will receive the inheritance of God, and even more the heirs of God’s glory. Perhaps you all remember these words: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In the past, you have all heard this saying, yet none understood the true meaning of the words. Today, you know well the real significance they hold. These words are what God will accomplish in the last days. And they will be accomplished upon those cruelly afflicted by the great red dragon in the land where it lies. The great red dragon persecutes God and is the enemy of God, so in this land, those who believe in God are subjected to humiliation and persecution. That is why these words will become reality in you group of people. As the work is carried out in a land that opposes God, all of His work is met with inordinate hindrance, and many of His words cannot be accomplished in good time; hence, people are refined because of the words of God. This too is an element of suffering. It is greatly arduous for God to carry out His work in the land of the great red dragon, but it is through such difficulty that God does a stage of His work to make manifest His wisdom and wondrous deeds. God takes this opportunity to make this group of people complete. Because of people’s suffering, their caliber, and all the satanic disposition of people in this unclean land, God does His work of purification and conquest so that, from this, He may gain glory and gain those who stand witness to His deeds. This is the full significance of all the sacrifices that God has made for this group of people. That is to say, God does the work of conquest just through those who oppose Him. Therefore, only doing so can manifest the great power of God. In other words, only those in the unclean land are worthy to inherit the glory of God, and only this can give prominence to the great power of God. That is why I say the glory of God is gained in the unclean land and from those who live within. This is the will of God. This is just as in the stage of Jesus’ work; He could only be glorified among those Pharisees who persecuted Him. If not for such persecution and the betrayal of Judas, Jesus would not have been ridiculed or slandered, much less crucified, and thus could never have gained glory. Wherever God works in each age and wherever He does His work in the flesh, He gains glory there and there gains those He intends to gain. This is the plan of God’s work, and this is His management.
In God’s plan of several thousand years, the work done in the flesh is in two parts: First is the work of the crucifixion, for which He is glorified; the other is the work of conquest and perfection in the last days, through which He will gain glory. This is the management of God. Thus, do not regard as too simple the work of God or God’s commission to you. You are all heirs of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory of God, and this was specially ordained by God. Of the two parts of His glory, one is revealed in you; the entirety of one part of God’s glory is bestowed upon you so that it may be your inheritance. This is the exaltation from God and His plan predetermined long ago. Given the greatness of the work God has done in the land in which the great red dragon dwells, such work, if moved elsewhere, would have long ago borne great fruit and been easily accepted by man. And such work would be far too easy to accept for those clergymen of the West who believe in God, for the stage of work by Jesus serves as a precedent. This is why He is unable to achieve this stage of work of glorification elsewhere; that is, as there is support from all men and acknowledgment from all nations, there is no place for the glory of God to rest on. And this is precisely the extraordinary significance that this stage of work holds in this land. Among you, there is not one man who receives the protection of the law; rather, you are penalized by the law, and the greater difficulty is that no man understands you, be it your relatives, your parents, your friends, or your colleagues. None understand you. When God rejects you, there is no way for you to continue living on earth. However, even so, people cannot bear to leave God; this is the significance of God’s conquest of people, and this is God’s glory. What you have inherited this day surpasses that of all former apostles and prophets and is greater even than that of Moses and Peter. Blessings cannot be received in a day or two; they must be earned through much sacrifice. That is, you must have refined love, great faith, and the many truths that God asks you to attain; in addition, you must be able to set your face toward justice and never be cowed or submit, and you must have a constant and unabating love for God. Resolution is demanded of you, as is change in your life disposition; your corruption must be remedied, and you must accept all the orchestration of God without complaint, and even be obedient until death. This is what you ought to achieve. This is the final aim of God, and the demands God asks of this group of people. As He bestows upon you, so too must He ask of you in return and make of you fitting demands. Therefore, all the work of God is not without reason, and from this can be seen why God time and again does the work of high standards and strict requirements. This is why you ought to be filled with faith in God. In short, all the work of God is done for your sake, so that you will be worthy to receive His inheritance. This is not so much for the sake of God’s own glory but for the sake of your salvation and for perfecting this group of people deeply afflicted in the unclean land. You must understand the will of God. And so I exhort the many ignorant people without any insight or sense: Do not test God and resist no more. God has already endured all suffering that man has never endured, and long ago suffered more humiliation in man’s stead. What else can you not let go of? What could be more important than the will of God? What could be above God’s love? It is already a task doubly arduous for God to carry out His work in this unclean land. If man knowingly and willfully transgresses, the work of God will have to be prolonged. In any event, this is not in the interests of any, and is of benefit to none. God is not bound by time; His work and His glory come first. Therefore, however long it takes, He will not spare any sacrifice if it is His work. This is the disposition of God: He will not rest until His work is achieved. Only when the time comes that He obtains the second part of His glory can His work be drawn to a close. Should God be unable to finish throughout the universe the work of the second part of His glorification, His day will never come, His hand will never stray from His chosen, His glory will never come upon Israel, and His plan will never be concluded. You should see that the will and the work of God are not as simple as the creation of the heavens and earth and all things. For the work of today is to transform those who have been corrupted, who have grown extremely numb, and to purify those who were created then worked on by Satan, not to create Adam or Eve, much less to make the light or create all manner of plants and animals. His work now is to make pure all that has been corrupted by Satan so that they may be regained and become His possession and become His glory. Such work is not as simple as man imagines the creation of the heavens and earth and all things to be, and it is not akin to the work of cursing Satan to the bottomless pit as man imagines. Rather, it is to transform man, to turn that which is negative into the positive and to take into His possession that which does not belong to Him. This is the inside story of this stage of God’s work. You must realize it, and should not oversimplify matters. The work of God is unlike any ordinary work. Its marvel cannot be conceived by the mind of man, and its wisdom cannot be attained by such. God is not creating all things, and He is not destroying them. Rather, He is changing all of His creation and purifying all things that have been defiled by Satan. Therefore, God shall commence work of great magnitude, and this is the total significance of the work of God. From these words, do you believe that the work of God is so simple?
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text omits “right.”