Prayer for Faith: How to Trust God Completely in Difficult Times (Audio Essay)
Chen Lu, South Korea
I was struck by an illness that came out of nowhere, and in the blink of an eye I had become mired in pain and despair, and I lost all hope for life. Nevertheless, through God’s wonderful, I came to understand that was behind my illness, and I saw God’s wondrous deeds. Remembering the events of that time, they are as vivid to me now as they were then.
A few months ago, my boss told us that Xiao Wang, one of my colleagues, had contracted a serious liver condition and had been hospitalized for treatment. The boss went on to say that the illness Xiao Wang had contracted could be transmitted to other people through physical contact, food, drink and bodily fluids. As we were often in contact with Xiao Wang, it was highly probable that we would have been infected, so we were told to go to the hospital immediately for testing. Hearing this news, the office was suddenly all abuzz; everyone was worried that they were infected, and so we all hurried to hospital. After a series of tests, I waited uneasily for the results. After a while, the doctor came and handed me the test results, and said: “You are a carrier of the Hepatitis B virus, and it has not been contracted recently, but has probably been there for a while.” I simply couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I asked the doctor to repeat herself. The doctor said regretfully, “You heard right. This is real. You must seek urgent treatment. If you delay, then your condition will worsen, and if it becomes liver cancer then you’ll be in real trouble. What’s more, as this virus cannot be wholly eradicated from the body, you will carry this virus for the rest of your life. You should get your mind right and be prepared!” This terrible, sudden news left me all at sea, and my whole body seemed to shrivel up like an eggplant affected by the frost, and my legs felt as heavy as lead. Scared out of my mind, I took the test results and left the hospital, not knowing how to get home.
Once I’d got home, I fell straight down onto my bed, with tears streaming down my face. I thought: “I’m only in my thirties, and these are supposed to be the best years of my life. I have so many dreams that I haven’t realized—how could I have contracted this illness? Could it be that I have to live carrying this virus for the rest of my life? How long will I live for? Besides, it will cost so much money to receive treatment, where on earth will I get that much money from?” The more I thought about it, the more distressed I got, and I couldn’t help but cry loudly…. From then on, I lived every day in worry and fear, I always felt weary and exhausted, bloated and with back pain, and I won’t be able to do any work at all. Not long after, the boss said that Xiao Wang had died. Hearing this news, my mind hummed, and all of a sudden my body went limp, and I thought: “Xiao Wang is dead? He was still so young. It seems that this liver illness can really be fatal. Will I be the next one to die?” I felt that death was getting closer and closer, and I felt completely helpless; I just didn’t know what to do. From then on, I waited listlessly every day for death to come. I no longer felt like doing anything at all, and I lived utterly in darkness.
After a while, because I didn’t have the money to pay the exorbitant medical fees, my only option was to give up on going to hospital for treatment, and I just relied on the folk prescription that my friend gave me to alleviate my condition. At that time, two sisters came to see me and asked with concern about my condition, and they helped me solve some difficulties I was having in my life. I took this opportunity to seek with the sisters about the problem that had beset me: “I, so God should look after and protect me. So why have I still contracted this illness?” After listening to my question, a sister patiently gave me fellowship: “We mustn’t lose when illness befalls us. God holds sovereignty over all things as well as over the fate of each one of us. Even more so are our lives and deaths in His hands, and He watches over us at all times. So long as we call on Him sincerely, then God will help us get through difficult times. We just have to entrust our lives and deaths to God, submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and believe that no matter what illness we may get, it is all in God’s hands. We must have faith in God.” Then the sister read to me two passages of God’s words: “When sickness befalls, this is God’s love, and surely His kind intentions are harbored within. Though your body may undergo a bit of suffering, entertain no ideas from Satan. in the midst of illness and enjoy God in the midst of your praise. Do not lose heart in the face of illness, keep seeking again and again and do not give up, and God will illuminate you with His light. How was Job’s faith? is an all-powerful physician! To dwell in sickness is to be sick, but to dwell in the spirit is to be well. So long as you still have one breath, God will not let you die.” “We have within us the resurrected life of Christ. Undeniably, we lack faith in the presence of God: Would that God would put true faith within us. Sweet indeed is the word of God! God’s word is potent medicine! It puts to shame the devils and Satan! Grasping God’s word gives us support. His word acts fast to save our hearts! It dispels all things and sets all at peace. Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God. Satan is trying by every way possible to send us its thoughts. We should at every moment pray for God to illuminate us with His light, at every moment rely on God to purge Satan’s poison from within us, practice within our spirit at every moment how to come close to God, and let God have dominion over our whole being” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning).
After listening to God’s words, my heart was immediately brightened. Indeed, God is almighty, and my life is given me by God and is under His control. In having this illness befall me now, God’s will was that He hoped for me to be able to submit to His orchestrations and arrangements, come before Him more, rely on Him and look to Him more, have true faith in Him, overcome all of Satan’s cunning ploys by God’s word and stand witness for God. But then I recalled how I had lived in worry and fear after learning that I had contracted this illness. Especially when I thought about what the doctor had said, my heart was completely occupied with it, I had no motivation to live and I didn’t feel like doing anything, to the point where I’d lost all hope. Even more serious was that I had also misunderstood and blamed God for not looking after me and protecting me, and faced with these facts, I was exposed as someone whose faith in God was pathetically small. I thought of when Job had been tempted by Satan; he had lost all his family property, his children had been slain, his whole body was covered in sores and he was in unbearable pain, and yet he feared and obeyed God. He didn’t speak sinfully, but instead sought God’s will. He believed that everything God did was right, and he kept his faith in God all through his trials. In pain, he still extolled God’s holy name, and in the end he stood witness for God, won God’s praise and was doubly blessed. God’s good intent was hidden behind all these things that happened! As I came to this realization, my faith in God returned, and I understood that whether this illness could be cured or not, I mustn’t lose my faith in God. God is almighty, there is nothing He cannot do, and all things are in His hands, so surely my illness is also in His hands. I should be like Job, I thought, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and seek God’s will. And so I came before God to pray: “O God! These past few days I’ve lived in sickness, worrying always that I will die. I lost my faith in You, and even blamed You for not blessing me. Nor did I seek Your will and I almost fell into Satan’s cunning trap. I really am so ignorant! O God! Thank You for arranging these sisters to come and give me fellowship so that I could understand Your will. O God! You are the God who holds sovereignty over all things, and today I wish to place myself completely in Your hands. Whether my illness can be cured or not, I wish to always submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements.” After praying, I was no longer fainthearted and afraid, and my heart was much eased. Throughout that time, the words of God that say, “Almighty God is an all-powerful physician! To dwell in sickness is to be sick, but to dwell in the spirit is to be well. So long as you still have one breath, God will not let you die,” often came to my mind, and they gave me faith and courage. Little by little, I no longer felt constrained by my illness, and every day I persevered with reading God’s words and singing hymns. Whenever I had time, I would attend meetings with brothers and sisters and fellowship God’s words, and furthermore I did my best to perform my duty. Unknowingly, the discomfort in my body gradually vanished, I clearly felt a lot calmer and my mood got better.
Two months later, I went back to the hospital to be reexamined, and the doctor said to me in amazement, “Your illness is in remission and you’re in an excellent condition. Also, you are no longer infectious. Come back again in a while for another examination, and if there are no problems, then there’s no reason why you can’t be given a clean bill of health.” Hearing this news, I was incredibly excited, and my eyes at once filled with tears, for I knew that this was all God’s wonderful salvation. At that moment, I felt a real appreciation of the authority and power of God’s words, and all I could do was keep thanking God in my heart—God really is almighty and holds sovereignty over all things! And so my faith in God grew.
Once, while I was performing my spiritual devotions, I read these words of God: “Some people become full of vigor as soon as they see that faith in God will bring them blessings, but then lose all energy as soon as they see that they have to suffer refinements. Is that believing in God? … Even though people with religious beliefs have faith in God, they do not seek to change their dispositions and do not pursue knowledge of God, but rather seek only the interests of their flesh. Many among you have faiths that belong in the category of religious convictions; this is not true faith in God” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in). What God’s words were talking about was precisely my state, and after I’d read them I felt very upset. Thinking back to before illness and calamity had struck me, and when my life had been going great, I had believed in God enthusiastically and had been filled with faith for God, without any doubts whatsoever. I had even made a resolution to follow God, and satisfy God all my life. But when illness befell me, my faith in God had disappeared in an instant, and I had lived in a state of negativity and weakness, so much so that I had been filled with misunderstandings and blame toward God. Only now did I understand that there had been such a great contrast between before and after I got sick because my views on faith in God had been wrong. I had wanted only to be graced and blessed by God, and had believed that, because of my faith in Him, He should then look after me and protect me, make me well and make everything go smoothly for me. It was precisely this absurd view I’d held on faith in God that had led me to immediately blame and misunderstand God when illness befell me, to the point where I’d even wanted to betray God. Having such a belief filled with bargaining, God saw me as an unbeliever, so how could God not have detested me? I thought again of Job who, amidst his trials, was able to say: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Job didn’t make bargains with God in his belief. Whether God gave things or took things away, Job still praised God, worshiped God, stood witness for God and thoroughly shamed Satan. But in comparison, I saw from my expressions and behavior when illness befell me that my faith in God had been just for the sake of gaining grace and blessings, pure and simple; I had been asking for bread to eat my fill, and had simply been truly a petty person who was blind to all except my own profit—I had really grieved God! Realizing this, I felt ashamed, and so I knelt and prayed to God: “O God! I give thanks to Your enlightenment for allowing me to realize that my views on faith were wrong, that as a created being I should submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements, and that I should not demand anything of You. This is the bare minimum of sense I should possess. From today on, I wish to place myself in Your hands, and however my condition develops, whether I live or die, I wish only to submit to Your every orchestration and arrangement.”
Later, I no longer thought about what would become of my illness and I let the matter go. Instead, I experienced things by letting nature take its course, and I applied my thought to reading God’s words, attending meetings and performing my duty. Every day, I felt enriched, and my spirits were lifted as time went on, so much so that I even forgot that I was sick. When friends and relatives saw me, they said to me in surprise that I didn’t look sick at all. After a while, I again visited the hospital to be reexamined, but before I left home, I prayed to God, saying that no matter what the results of the tests may be, I was still willing to obey Him, and would not blame Him at all. When I took the test results from the doctor, I couldn’t help but feel utterly amazed. In the antibody column was written all “+” signs, which meant that my body had already produced antibodies. Not only had I been completely cured of the hepatitis B virus, but I would no longer have to worry about being infected by another person. This unexpected result made me weep tears of gratitude, overcome by my emotions. God really is so almighty and so wonderful! I had only to act according to God’s words, place myself in God’s hands and be willing to submit to His orchestrations and arrangements, and my illness had been cured; I truly felt God’s love for me!
Through my experience of having this illness, I learned many lessons and turned my incorrect views on faith in God around. I now know that one shouldn’t make bargains with God in one’s belief, and that one shouldn’t blame God no matter whether He gives or takes away, but rather one must obey God—this is the sense one must possess. At the same time, I came to realize that not only is God a merciful and loving God, but even more so He is a righteous and holy God. When I was filled with blame for God, God hid Himself from me, but when I turned back to God, His smiling face appeared to me; God really is so lovely! I now make this resolution: From now on, no matter what problems I may encounter, in all things I wish to seek the truth, understand God’s will, submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and fulfill my duty well so as to repay God’s love!
Thank God for saving me! May all glory be to God!
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