41. What Is the Nature of God’s Love?
Siqiu Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province
Whenever I see the following passage of God’s word, “If you’ve always been very loyal and loving toward Me, yet you suffer the torment of illness, the constraints of life, and the abandonment of your friends and relatives or endure any other misfortunes in life, then will your loyalty and love for Me still continue?” (“A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I feel particularly unhappy—a sense of misery creeps up within me and my heart speaks its voiceless grievance: Dear God, how can You allow those that are loyal to You and love You to meet with such misfortune? As a result, I’ve had a hard time understanding the meaning of the man used by the Holy Spirit who said, “God’s last demand of man is loving and sincere.”
Recently, the sister with whom I was coordinating developed hyperthyroidism. Gradually, her condition got to the point where she had to eat six meals a day. Due to the stress of illness, her strength gradually diminished, and she lived every day in depression, weakness and fatigue. Her body simply couldn’t comply with her desire to fulfill her duties and her illness became more and more advanced. I couldn’t understand why this was happening: This sister had left her family and a high-paying job with good benefits to devote herself to the fulfillment of her duties and she was very loyal. How could it be that, for all that she had given, she would be saddled with the torment of this illness in return? … I didn’t reveal my feelings outwardly, but my heart was in tumult—whenever anyone raised this issue I would lose my calm.
Not long after, my sister and I parted ways, but I never forgot about her. One day, I asked my leader how my sister was doing. The leader said: “At first she had a very negative condition and refused to recognize the work of God. Later, she consciously adjusted her condition, seeking out God’s intention within the torment of her illness. Through God’s words, she began to know herself and realize that she had not had true belief. Within her belief there was still an element of “exchange,” still a desire to gain blessings through her belief in God. She also identified many other elements of rebelliousness within herself. Once she had realized these things about herself, her health improved dramatically. She’s recovering day by day, she’s back down to three meals a day and her condition is much better. She’s even able to help the brothers and sisters of her host family adjust their conditions….” When I heard this good news, I was truly shocked. I had thought that the torment of illness would wear down my sister’s resolve and cause her great suffering. Wracked by sickness, I believed her presence on the road forward would be more and more obscure. I even suspected that she might be unable to go on. Today, faced with the reality of her situation, I was left standing agape. Not only had she not lost faith, but, through the refinement of her illness, had actually come to understand God’s work and recognize her corruption. She had learned from her experience and had made improvements to her life. Was this illness not a manifestation of God’s true love and real salvation of man?
Later, I read the following passage from the man’s fellowship: “Number 5: ‘If you’ve always been very loyal and loving toward Me, yet you suffer the torment of illness, the constraints of life, and the abandonment of your friends and relatives or endure any other misfortunes in life, then will your loyalty and love for Me still continue?’ (“A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s work is not in line with people’s notions. God has worked according to this principle to bring salvation to people throughout the ages. All those who have experienced this work of God will be aware of this fact. People are loyal and loving toward God and God in turn imparts His love to them. … If we are truly loving and loyal to God, when we meet with all manner of misfortune, this, too, is the manifestation of God’s love. If we truly understand God’s will, we should be even more loyal and love God even more till the end. If we are unable to see God’s will in the trials and even misunderstand God and betray God, we certainly do not recognize the work of God. Even if we love and are loyal to God, there are still elements of betrayal within us. No one would debate that. God tries and refines man to purify and save him” (The Fellowship From the Above). Only after reading this passage of fellowship did I realize that I have always judged God’s work in terms of my flesh-bound thinking. I mistakenly believed that God’s love consists of bounteous gifts of grace and assurance of fleshly joy and peace. I never thought that suffering is a form of God’s blessing. Only after learning of my sister’s experience, did I realize that the refinement of suffering is a true manifestation of God’s love. God creates certain situations and inflicts misfortunes upon His people—be it through physical ailment, financial hardship, or any other difficulties—not out of ill will but out of His loving kindness. To address the corruption and inadequacies of man, God creates all kinds of situations to try and refine him. He works through this suffering to purify, transform and give life to man. Though man’s flesh must undergo incredible hardship in the process of refinement, which may be perceived as misfortune or hardgoing, this is really God working to allow man to know himself, refine out all the impurities and bring man into a more and more normal relationship with Him so that he may slowly cultivate love for God in his heart. Such benefits cannot be obtained through a life of leisure. When man absorbs the lessons obtained from the torment of his trials and reflects back on the road he has taken, he finally understands that God’s judgments and chastisements, His smiting and discipline were all permeated with His infinite love. God’s love is not just nourishing and compassionate. It is not only about bestowing material benefits, but also harrowing refinement, smiting and discipline.
Dear God, thank You for working through all aspects of my surroundings to correct my absurd and misguided way of thinking and allow me to see that even if Your love is not in line with our notions, its manifestation is always aimed at improving and saving us. Your love acts are always imbued with the earnest toiling of Your heart and ineffable wisdom. I also realized that I previously didn’t have the slightest understanding of You and didn’t comprehend that Your love is often hidden within situations. Dear God, in honor of the love that You share with mankind, I offer You praise and gratitude! I also hope that one day I too will receive this kind of love. Should this love be visited upon me, I vow to accept any degree of suffering, so that I may experience and testify to Your love.