79. Seven Years of Trials Have Revealed My True Colors
By Chen Hui, Heilongjiang Province
In 1994, along with my mother, I accepted God’s work of the last days. When I learned of how God had reappeared in the flesh to do the work of salvation, I was overjoyed, and particularly honored to be a beneficiary of God’s salvation. In the time that followed, I often attended meetings, sang hymns in praise of God with my brothers and sisters. When I had time, I would read God’s word, and after I had gained some understanding of His will, I split my time between work and fulfilling as much as I could of my duties within the church. Sometime thereafter, I heard that God’s work would be coming to a close very soon. Greatly excited, I thought to myself, “I’d better work hard in my pursuit of the truth and do more good deeds before God’s work is finished. I must not miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Thereupon, I made a resolute decision to quit my job and invest myself completely in the work of spreading the kingdom gospel. I decided to completely devote the rest of my life to God, in the belief that only by doing so could I receive His commendation and blessing. During that time, every day, I kept constantly busy from early morning until late at night despite wind or rain. Even if I had to ride my bicycle dozens of kilometers, I never felt tired or overworked. There were times when I felt pain and weakness when faced with the slander of worldly people or abandonment by loved ones, but as long as the thought occurred to me that not only would I be spared when the great calamities descended upon earth and gain eternal life, but would also enjoy God’s abundant material blessings, I was infused with a feeling of exaltation, and a sense that all of my efforts were worthwhile. In this way, I felt confident that if I could expend everything for God, then this meant I was someone who loved God and was deserving of His blessings, and that there would certainly be a place for me in the kingdom. From then on, even as I continued to expend and contribute, I was restlessly awaiting the day when God’s work would come to a close so that I could claim my happy lot in the kingdom as soon as possible.
One day toward the end of 1999, just as I was confidently preparing to enter the kingdom and enjoy its great blessings, a sister told me, “The brother from the above has fellowshiped that if we wish to receive salvation and be made perfect, we must first undergo seven years of trials.” Upon hearing this, I could hardly believe my ears. Wanting to make sure I had not misheard, I asked the sister to repeat herself. Once I had confirmed that this really was what she had said, my head reeled and I was suddenly at a loss. For the life of me, I could not bring myself to accept what she had said as fact. All at once, thoughts started racing through my head: “Why do I still have to go through seven years of trials? When they said God’s work would end in the next two years, I gave up everything; how am I supposed to go on, now that there are still seven years to go? Should I get a job to make some money? In seven years, I’ll be thirty; what about this matter of getting married? …” I had originally thought I was on the cusp of entering God’s kingdom, and that all my fleshly afflictions would soon come to an end. However, it now appeared that not only would I not be entering God’s kingdom, I still had to undergo seven years of trials and refinements. When I thought about this, my heart sank, and an inexpressible sadness welled up within me. I subconsciously began to blame God, thinking, “God! Why did You not tell me earlier that I still have to undergo seven years of refinement? I had originally thought that no matter how difficult things might get, it will all be over in two or three years, and that I could then enter the kingdom and enjoy wondrous blessings forever. Now, though, I still have seven years of trials and refinement ahead of me. Just how am I supposed to get through them?” The more I thought, the more negative I grew. I began to regret the decisions I had made, and even contemplated returning to the secular world to get a job and make money, and just participating in the church life whenever time allowed. As such, I lived in pure misery, and was constantly in low spirits: dozing off through meetings, and only half-heartedly fulfilling my duty. I did not feel I had the same energy going forward that I had had in the past, yet I also did not dare to take a step backward; I was truly between a rock and a hard place. At about that time, there were some people who, unable to endure the hardships of seven years of trials, had turned their backs on God and lost their faith. Hearing this news, I was shocked, and it was as if an alarm had been set off in my head. Looking at my current situation, I realized that if I did not do something to turn myself around, then I, too, would be at great risk—and yet, how was I supposed to change my current circumstances to emerge from the negativity into which I had sunk?
Not long thereafter, I saw the following passage of God’s words: “Every time the seven years’ trials are mentioned, there are quite a few people who feel especially uncomfortable and dejected, and there are some who complain, and there are all manner of reactions. From these reactions it is evident that people now need such trials; they need this kind of adversity and refinement. In their belief in God, what people seek is to obtain blessings for the future; this is their goal in their faith. All people have this intent and hope, but the corruption in their nature must be resolved through trials. In whichever aspects you are not purified, these are the aspects in which you must be refined—this is God’s arrangement. God creates an environment for you, forcing you to be refined there so that you can know your own corruption. Ultimately, you reach a point at which you would rather die and give up your schemes and desires, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangement” (“How to Satisfy God in the Midst of Trials” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words were a perfect exposition of my current predicament. As soon as I heard that I would still have to undergo seven years of trials, I had sunk into a pit of negativity and, filled with grievances, had rebelled against God. Previously I had thought that since I had quit my job and abandoned my family life, had invested much more than the average followers, I was therefore the one who loved God more than anyone else, and the most deserving of His blessings. Only then did I realize that my pursuit was impure. God examines people’s hearts and minds, and He used trials and refinements to reveal that my belief in Him was actually based on a desire for blessings. He allowed me to gain a true understanding of the erroneous viewpoint of my pursuit and cast off my desire for blessings. Later, I saw another passage of God’s words: “Aren’t you still cultivating a false image to deceive Me, for the sake of your destination, and to have a beautiful and happy destination? I’m aware that your devotion and your sincerity are but temporary; aren’t your aspirations and the price you pay only for now and not then? You only want to exert one final effort to secure a beautiful destination. Your purpose is only to make a trade; it’s not so that you are not indebted to the truth, and it is particularly not to repay Me for the price I have paid. In a word, you are only willing to employ your cleverness, but you are unwilling to fight for it. Isn’t this your heartfelt wish? You must not disguise yourselves, and even more, must not rack your brains over your destination to the point that you are unable to eat or sleep. Isn’t it true that your destination will have been determined in the end?” (“On Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The judgment and chastisement in God’s words caused me to feel ashamed and to reflect upon my thoughts and actions, realizing that they were identical to those that God had exposed. Thinking back to when I had first entered the church and was still holding a job while fulfilling my duties. When I had heard that God’s work would soon be coming to a close, I had thought to myself that to earn His blessings and gain rewards, I only needed to invest myself completely in expending for Him for a temporary period of time. To ensure that I could enter the kingdom once God’s work had concluded, I had abandoned all physical pleasures and dived headlong into fulfilling my duties. However, upon hearing that I still needed to undergo seven years of trials, I felt I had encountered an unrecoverable setback, and grew so negative that I did not even have the drive to fulfill my duties. My heart was filled with blame and resistance against God. I felt regret over everything that I had given up and all the hard work I had done; I even contemplated betraying God and turning my back on Him. I turned into a completely different person from who I had been before! It was only through the revelation of trial that I realized I had never truly worshiped God as the Creator of all created beings. I also realized that I had not expended myself or given up worldly things to fulfill my duty as a created being in order to pursue my love of God and to satisfy God. Rather, I had made all these efforts purely for the sake of my own future destination. Everything I had done was to strike a deal with God; as such, I had been deceiving Him and using Him to achieve my ultimate goal of entering the kingdom to receive abundant blessings. How selfish, despicable, and ugly I had been! It was just as God’s words had revealed: “No matter how they are tried, the allegiance of those who have God in their heart remains unchanged; but for those who do not have God in their heart, once the work of God is not advantageous to their flesh, they change their view of God, and even depart from God. Such are those who will not stand fast in the end, who only seek God’s blessings and have no desire to expend themselves for God and dedicate themselves to Him. Such base people will all be expelled when God’s work comes to an end, and are unworthy of any sympathy. Those without humanity are incapable of truly loving God. When the environment is safe and secure, or they can get profits, they are totally obedient toward God, but once that which they desire is compromised or finally refuted, they immediately revolt. Even in the space of just one night, they may go from a smiling, ‘kind-hearted’ person to an ugly-looking and ferocious killer, suddenly treating their benefactor of yesterday as their mortal enemy, without rhyme or reason. If these demons are not cast out, demons that would kill in the blink of an eye, will they not become the source of further suffering?” (“God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words it was evident that selfish and treacherous people lack humanity and live purely for profit, betraying fidelity and trust for personal gain. Those who live in accordance with Satan’s nature cannot possibly be compatible with God; such people are constantly resisting and betraying God, and even take God as their enemy. God hates and detests these people, and if they keep refusing to pursue the truth, they will ultimately be eliminated. I thought about how, in the two times God incarnate comes to earth to perform the work of humanity’s salvation, He has suffered incredible humiliation and paid the ultimate price in order to wrest us from the Satan’s influence of darkness—and yet, He has never once asked anything of us. By contrast, not only had I not recognized God’s love or been the least bit grateful or genuinely devoted to Him, but I had only concerned myself with how I could obtain blessings. When God’s work did not square with my conceptions and imaginations or did not involve benefiting me physically, I had instantly turned away from Him, even regretting all my efforts and all I had forsaken and wishing to abandon God altogether. I could see that I did not possess even the slightest bit of humanity; my nature was such that I had resisted and betrayed God, and such rebelliousness was only worthy of God’s curses. Having realized all this, I was filled with guilt and self-blame, and pledged to never again be so unscrupulous. I knew that, as soon as possible, I must repent, strive to pursue the truth to satisfy God.
Later on, I read the following words in a sermon: “Today there are many whose hearts give rise to grievances and who show their unbelieving evil hearts when faced with the seven years of trials. This is greatly surprising, and has caused me to realize that those in the family of God are now no better than the Israelites of former days. It can be said that God’s work in the present day is by far the most suitable for, and is of the greatest necessity to, corrupted humanity. If God did not act in this way, humanity would never come to know Him, acquire real faith, or truly praise Him. Humans these days are impoverished, wretched and blind. They have no true knowledge of God. Before the trials began, many people’s nature of rebellion, resistance, and betrayal of God had been exposed in broad daylight for all to see. How could such people expect to enter the kingdom? How could they be deemed worthy of receiving God’s promises? If man truly understood his own shortcomings, impoverishment, and wretchedness—if he could see how his nature was rebellious and resistant to God—then he would submit to the various sufferings and refinements that God has arranged, and would be ready and willing to submit to God’s orchestrations and all of His work. Only the wildly arrogant, after reading just a few passages of God’s word, would presume that they have grasped the truth, possessed humanity, do not need to undergo trials and refinements, and should be directly elevated to the third heaven. Anyone with life experience will have realized that if one only reads God’s word but does not undergo the refinements of all manner of trials and sufferings, such a person cannot achieve a change in disposition. Just because someone has understood many doctrines does not necessarily mean they possess true stature. Thus, in the future, man must go through many trials: This is God’s grace and exaltation, and even more God’s salvation, and all should thank and praise God for it” (The Fellowship From the Above). After reading this sermon, I gained an even greater understanding of God’s intentions. Encountering such trials and refinements was exactly what my life needed; had I not been exposed in this manner, I would never have scrutinized the bad intentions which had motivated my faith or recognized my selfish and despicable satanic nature. I had even thought that I had true faith in God, and crowned myself as one who genuinely loved God. I had been deluding and deceiving myself. God’s wondrous work had thoroughly exposed me, allowing me to clearly see the true colors of my resistance toward Him, and see my wickedness and ugliness. It had showed me that I was an opportunist and a living, breathing descendant of Satan. My faith in God had been completely impure and marked by transactions. If I went on practicing my faith in that way, I would never receive God’s commendation, and would end up a failure. Experiencing judgment and chastisement helped me to realize that faith in God is not as simple as I had imagined; one does not receive God’s blessings immediately after putting one’s faith in God, nor does one automatically arrive at some happy destination merely because he or she has put in work and invested time and energy. If my satanic nature is not cleansed and changed, I could practice faith in God for a hundred years and still not obtain salvation. This is determined by God’s righteous disposition, and no one can change that. I also realized that undergoing trials and refinements is an essential step on the path to obtaining God’s salvation. Now I no longer blame or misunderstand God, but instead happily submit to His work. I have resolved to start afresh, and work hard at my pursuit of the truth, so that someday soon I may achieve a change of disposition and compatibility with God.