By Cheng Shun
The Death of My Neighbor Evokes My Memories
At past 8:00 p.m. on a midsummer evening, my neighbor Wang Ke’s wife rushed to my house with a phone in her hand, and said, “It’s high time that Wang Ke should be home, but he still hasn’t arrived yet. I’ve phoned him so many times but there’s no answer. His workmates have all been home. Please help me find him….” Then, a few of us went to look for him with flashlights along the way which led to his workplace. In the end, we found him dead in the ditch two meters deep next to the national highway about ten kilometers away from home.
The result of the medical examination proved that he had died of myocardial infarction through overwork.
Wang Ke was just 32 years old when he died. After he finished junior high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a bricklayer. That was an exhausting job and it required long work hours, but the money was good. For this reason, Wang Ke worked from dawn to dusk. Every day he traveled on his motorcycle a route of more than 20km to the construction sites in the city and back, leaving before sunrise and coming back after dark. He never took a break, fearing that it would have an impact on the money he’d earn. Through his struggle, his family became well-off in our village. He had been going to buy a car recently, yet he suddenly died due to overwork before he could enjoy life, leaving over 200,000 yuan of savings, his five-year-old child and young and weak wife. Overnight, his once-happy family fell into misery and sorrow, cries emanating across the house.
That couldn’t help but make me recall the past days of my running after money.
My Days of Going All Out to Earn Money
When I was little, seeing how the wealthy ate well, dressed well and enjoyed themselves well, how they spoke and walked in an imposing manner, and how they were admired by others everywhere, I made a resolution that I must make much money and become a rich man in the future.
After I entered society, I worked at a restaurant. In order to make more money, I took on the work of two people. Every day I got up at four in the morning and worked until ten in the evening. The heavy manual labor left me exhausted and my back sore and aching, finally causing the muscle strain in my back. But when I saw how much I’d earned per month, I, paying no attention to my pain, gritted my teeth and continued to work. Afterward, seeing others make much money by doing business, I started to sell vegetables and fruit, and later I opened a restaurant. Every day I was so busy from dawn to dusk that I didn’t even have time to rest. In the end, I was worn out and fell ill. While I was recuperating at home, I thought of how I would earn a lot less money if I rested even for one day, so in less than two months, I went back to work despite my sick body. I had accepted God’s work in the last days during my recuperation, but I still regarded money as being more important than anything else and considered attending gatherings and reading God’s words as hobbies. I was unwilling to miss any chance of making money — I thought only of running my business, and in my spare time I also found some odd jobs to do.
Thanks to my overwork, the pain in my back became more and more severe, and my condition got worse and worse day by day. My wife and my brothers and sisters in the church all advised me to get some more rest so as to not ruin my health from exhaustion, and said that the most important thing was health and life. Faced with the advice of my wife and the kind reminder of my brothers and sisters, I only gave them a silent smile; I knew that they meant me well, but I couldn’t bring myself to take a break, because if I did so I wouldn’t be able to make more money. In the end, because I overstrained myself, my lumbar vertebrae were obviously deformed and they pressed against a nerve, which caused me to be bedridden and doubly incontinent. I also developed edema all over my body. During that period, I was in such pain that I didn’t even want to go on living. I thought: “Everyone says that money brings happiness and it makes everything possible. Now I’ve earned much money but lost my health. At such a young age, I can only lie on the bed every day and have my wife take care of me; even taking a few steps causes unbearable pain. I’m a useless invalid. Is this the life of a moneyed individual that I’ve always wanted? Pursuing money is really the significance of my life?” I felt at a loss about my future.
God’s Words Lead Me to See Through Satan’s Schemes
Lost in pain, I came before God to pray, and after that, I saw God’s words saying, “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs — all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God.” “In truth, out of the myriad things in God’s creation, man is the lowest. Though he is the master of all things, man is the only one among them that is subject to Satan’s trickery, the only one that falls prey in endless ways to its corruption. Man has never had sovereignty over himself. Most people live in the foul place of Satan, and suffer its derision; it teases them this way and that till they are half alive, enduring every vicissitude, every hardship in the human world. After toying with them, Satan puts an end to their destiny.”
From God’s words I saw that, since I was little, I had been influenced and infected by Satan’s viewpoints “Money makes the world go round,” and “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing.” I had believed that having money would make me live with dignity and win others’ approval, and so I had regarded becoming a rich man as the goal to pursue in life. Since I entered society, I had racked my brains to make money. I had done whichever business that could allow me to make more money — selling vegetables, selling fruit, and running a restaurant; every day I had busied myself from dawn to dusk, working overtime, and I had kept on struggling though I had driven myself to exhaustion and illness. Though my wife and my brothers and sisters had all tried to persuade me to stop risking my life for money, I, blinded by avarice, didn’t listen to any word they said and thought that making money was the most important thing. In the end, I did have earned some money, but I also lost my health — I was unable to get out of bed and needed to be taken care of. Only at that moment did I saw that living by Satan’s thoughts and viewpoints only brought me suffering. I thought of the people around me. For the sake of making money, Wang Ke overworked himself and died in such a young age. There were nine people in my village who had died under forty years old. They like me were dominated by Satan’s thoughts and views, and worked really hard to make money, farming their land while also going out to work. Some of them died from coalmine accidents, some made themselves sick through years of overwork and ended up dying suddenly, and some died of cancer. In front of these facts, I finally saw clearly that no matter how much money we earn, it is powerless in the face of illness. Money can’t buy health, let alone save man’s life; instead, what it brings to us is just suffering. Money is just one of the underhanded means Satan employs to corrupt man, and by keeping on pursuing money, we can only be toyed with and finally swallowed by Satan.
God’s Words Show Me the Path to Follow in My Life
Afterward, I saw more of God’s words, “Because the essence of God is holy, that means that only through God can you walk the bright, right road through life; only through God can you know the meaning of life, only through God can you live out a real life, possess the truth, know the truth, and only through God can you obtain life from the truth. Only God Himself can help you shun evil and deliver you from the harm and control of Satan. Besides God, no one and nothing can save you from the sea of suffering so that you suffer no longer: This is determined by the essence of God. Only God Himself saves you so selflessly, only God is ultimately responsible for your future, for your destiny and for your life, and He arranges all things for you. This is something that nothing created or non-created can achieve.” “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, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God.”
God’s words clearly showed us the path for a human life. God created man and rules over all things. Our fates are in His hands, and only He can take responsibility for our lives and help us understand the truth, distinguish good and evil, and walk the right road in life. Only obeying God’s domination and arrangements and living based on His words are true happiness and contentment. I thought of how over all these years I had lived by Satan’s poison “Money makes the world go round,” and singularly pursued money. I had been tortured and harmed by Satan, and what I had gained was only suffering and bitterness, and not even the slightest happiness. The Lord Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36–37). I thought, “Even though I’ve gained money, if I lost my life, then what would be the point? I don’t want to live for Satan and be a slave to money anymore. I will live by God’s words, pursue the truth, look to God and entrust Him with my everything, and submit to His rule and arrangements — only this is the most valuable, meaningful kind of life.”
Later, I spent much of my time on my faith in God and pursuit of the truth. I often attended meetings and read God’s words with my brothers and sisters, and I felt a great sense of ease and freedom in my heart. Gradually, I regained the feeling in my lower body, the pain in my lower back was gone and I could walk again. My health improved a lot, and I knew that all of this was God’s love for me.
Conclusion: Man’s life is short, and earthly money, fame and fortune are things we do not bring with us from birth, and things we cannot take with us through death. The intention of God bringing us into this world is not that we will be slaves to money. The true happiness in life is to gain the truth as life, be able to discern between good and evil, and live under God’s care and protection. Only by living this way can we live meaningful, valuable lives.