By Jian Qiang
The Disease Suddenly Came Upon Him
Zhi Peng, a common peasant, who had a happy and satisfactory family, managed two greenhouses. He was very busy every day and enjoyed a tidy income, which gave his family a pleasant life.
Unfortunately, something unexpected came upon him when he was thirty-two. One day, his teeth ached severely. And after taking a test at the hospital, he was diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV), and his transaminase was very high, which had risen to over 2000 U/L. So he was hospitalized right away. Zhi Peng felt himself young and strong: As long as his disease was cured he would be fine as before. But the attending physician told him, “Your disease can be cured, but if the HBV test result can’t become negative, it will be a time bomb for you. You may kick up at any time, and then it will develop into cirrhosis. And the possibility of liver cancer will increase too.” What the doctor said was imprinted on his mind. Deep into the night, Zhi Peng lay awake tossing and turning in the sickbed, thinking, “I’m still young, and my happy life has just begun. If the root of this disease can’t be removed, and next it grows into cirrhosis, and liver cancer …” He dared not think more.
At that moment, from another ward came a patient’s wretched cries, and then came the hurrying footsteps. The cry pierced his heart and he felt as if death was drawing near. He was frightened and breathless, like a stone was lying on his heart. But he made a determination within: No matter how much money I have to spend, I must have my disease cured. A month later, his condition improved and he was discharged from hospital, but his HBV test result had not reverted to negative. In order to cure it, he never gave up the treatment for his disease. He looked everywhere for folk medicine, and during those years he had been to the provincial capital, cities, and counties for many times, spending tens of thousands of yuan, but to no avail. Seeing the plus signs on his test sheet which remained the same, he was heavy-hearted. Every time he went to the hospital, the doctor would give him a lot of advices about the treatment. He was really afraid of going to the hospital, but he had to because of his instinct to live. In his eyes, he had parents, wife and children to take care of, relatives and friends to contact and his relationship with them to maintain, and there was also a desirable life for him to strive for. …
In a word, there was so much worry and reluctance in his heart. He struggled in fear, afraid that death would come soon. So many nights he jerked awake. … The torment in spirit turned him from a strong and young man into an invalid. Nevertheless, the thing that he had been dreading still happened.
The Disease Got Worse
In the summer of 2005, the 39-year-old Zhi Peng felt weak all over. In the company of his wife, he went to the hospital in the town for examination. After he underwent an ultrasound, a tumor was found in his liver. The doctor said that he had to order an enhanced CT scan for Zhipeng so that he could confirm whether his tumor was benign or malignant. However, for some reason they couldn’t get the booster needle from the warehouse. In the end, the doctor suggested that Zhi Peng should have the examination the next day. So the couple went home.
He hadn’t received the test result for his illness yet, but when he thought of the expressions on the doctors’ faces today, and saw the ultrasound report and the CT scan on the desk, which was like a written judgment of death against him, he felt panicked and helpless as never before. He was like a kite with a broken string, lonely, unsupported, and having no direction. He looked at his wife whose tears were standing in her eyes, his son who was still at school, and thought of his aged parents who needed looking after. Then he went out to the yard, looked up into the sky, and took a look at his home he was familiar with. His heart was broken, feeling that he was walking toward death involuntarily. Who could save him? Who could give him a hand? No one. Families could not retain him no matter how they were concerned about him; money, which he spent half of his life struggling for, could not save him either. He lived amid the atmosphere of the death, distressed and hopeless. That night, he washed his face with his tears. On the second day, it was drizzling. His wife accompanied him to the city hospital to have the examination. On the road, Zhi Peng thought a lot: If the CT scan really shows evidence of liver cancer, which way shall I choose to die? Drinking poison? Hanging myself? Jumping into a river? … The more Zhi Peng thought about it, the more distressed he felt.
After some procedures in the hospital, he went into the CT scan room again. He had to wait until the afternoon to receive the result. Several hours of waiting was a torture for him. Unable to determine whether he could live or not, he could only wait helplessly for the judgment of the heaven for him.
Untied the Death-Knot
That morning his sister-in-law also came and helped them. At noon, when they were having lunch, she said to them, “Brother, sister, why not ? Our fate in life is in the hands of God. We ourselves can’t control our fate and break away from these pains and troubles. Only by believing in God and worshiping God can we have reliance. I talked about this to you before. But you focused on making money and had no inclination to investigate. Perhaps God is using this chance to choose you.”
His sister-in-law’s word made Zhi Peng’s feel his dark heart bright and clear. Like a drowning man who caught a lifeline, he blurted out, “I believe.” In the afternoon, he got the result and saw it was “hemangioma,” his uneasy heart calmed down; it was a brush with death. During this more than one day, he felt as if he had been to the mortal and the immortal world. He felt that going through that period of waiting was more unbearable and longer than going through a year for him. Zhi Peng took a look at the sky that had just cleared up, and the crowd out of the window, and his relatives by his side. After regaining all these, he felt that this world was really beautiful. He couldn’t help bursting into tears. In his heart, he was convinced that this special experience of his struggling against death was God’s selection of him.
Although he was safe, the fear of death, like an imprint, couldn’t be removed from his heart. Death didn’t come upon him this time, but he didn’t know when death would come secretly next time. He felt that there must be a great mystery about death, which he couldn’t disclose or understand. Once death came near, fear would follow, then joy and happiness would disappear. This unresolved mystery had been buried in his heart, which made him uneasy all the time.
One day, Zhi Peng saw a passage of God’s words, “The nearer one comes to death, the more one wants to understand what life is really about; the nearer one comes to death, the more one’s heart seems empty; the nearer one comes to death, the more helpless one feels; and so one’s fear of death grows greater by the day. There are two reasons why people behave this way as they approach death: First, they are about to lose the fame and wealth upon which their lives have depended, are about to leave behind everything visible in the world; and second, they are about to confront, all alone, an unfamiliar world, a mysterious, unknown realm where they are afraid to set foot, where they have no loved ones and no means of support. For these two reasons, everyone who faces death feels uneasy, experiences a panic and a sense of helplessness that they have never known before. Only when people actually reach this point do they realize that the first thing one must understand, when one sets foot on this earth, is where human beings come from, why people are alive, who dictates human fate, who provides for and has sovereignty over human existence. These are the true assets in life, the essential basis for human survival, not learning how to provide for one’s family or how to achieve fame and wealth, not learning how to stand out from the crowd or how to live a more affluent life, much less learning how to excel and to compete successfully against others. Though the various survival skills that people spend their lives mastering can offer an abundance of material comforts, they never bring one’s heart true peace and consolation, but instead make people constantly lose their direction, have difficulty controlling themselves, miss every opportunity to learn the meaning of life; and they create an undercurrent of trouble about how to properly face death. In this way, people’s lives are ruined. The Creator treats everyone fairly, giving everyone a lifetime’s worth of opportunities to experience and know His sovereignty, yet it is only when death draws near, when the specter of death hangs over one, that one begins to see the light—and then it is too late” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). From this passage of God’s words, Zhi Peng understood: That I came into this world is from the rule of God and His arrangements. What we mankind should understand most is where we come from, why we are alive, who dictates our destiny and outcome. Only when we understand these truths can we have the true assets for our survival and the foundation for knowing God, and live a valuable and meaningful life. I have lived to such an age but I have never been introduced to this kind of topic. I was taught atheism since childhood, and learned how to survive and to make myself stand out from the crowd. After I stepped into society, I focused more on how to provide for my family, striving for money, fame, and gain. But when death befell me, these worldly things could not give me a shred of comfort and help; instead, because of these things, I was more terrified, and this kind of terror was deeply engraved in my mind. I heard a classmate of mine say that there was a rich man in their village, who spent all his life struggling for money. One day this rich man felt uncomfortable and the result from the hospital showed that he was in the last stage of lung cancer. He took out all his savings to seek for a cure everywhere. But in the end, the doctor could not help but tell him, “I can only heal the sick but can’t bring back one’s life. Money can only buy medicine, but not life.” The rich man felt hopeless; he went to the top of a building and cast his money. There are too many cases like this in actual life. Many famous people, stars, and wealthy people possess a large fortune and are of honorable reputation, but when they face the threat of death, do they not all feel distressed and hopeless? No matter how much wealth one possesses, it can’t help remove his fear of death, much less can it prolong his life.
Zhi Peng saw another passage of God’s words, “At the moment when a person is born, one lonely soul begins its experience of life on earth, its experience of the Creator’s authority which the Creator has arranged for it. Needless to say, for the person, the soul, this is an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge of the Creator’s sovereignty, to come to know His authority and to experience it personally. … If one views life as an opportunity to experience the Creator’s sovereignty and come to know His authority, if one sees one’s life as a rare chance to perform one’s duty as a created human being and to fulfill one’s mission, then one will necessarily have the correct outlook on life, will live a life blessed and guided by the Creator, will walk in the light of the Creator, know the Creator’s sovereignty, come under His dominion, become a witness to His miraculous deeds and to His authority. Needless to say, such a person will necessarily be loved and accepted by the Creator, and only such a person can hold a calm attitude toward death, can joyfully welcome life’s final juncture. … But those who, in God’s work, can accept His trial, accept His sovereignty, submit to His authority, and gradually gain real experience of His words, will have attained real knowledge of God’s authority, real understanding of His sovereignty, and will have truly become subject to the Creator. Only such people will have truly been saved. Because they have known God’s sovereignty, because they have accepted it, their appreciation of and submission to the fact of God’s sovereignty over human fate is real and accurate. When they face death they will be able, like Job, to have a mind undaunted by death, to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements in all things, with no individual choice, with no individual desire. Only such a person will be able to return to the Creator’s side as a true created human being” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). From these words of God, Zhi Peng understood: I am a lonely soul that started with nothing. Because of the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangement, I came into this world, born in the family God arranged for me, and enjoyed everything God provided for me. Every one of us came into this world, not to solely enjoy the material world created by God, not to chase fame and gain, but for the sake of the Creator’s commissions for us. That is to say, in one’s life arranged by God, and in people, matters, and things he encounters, he should experience the sovereignty of the Creator, and know the authority of the Creator. God is fair and just to everyone. He arranged a different fate for everyone. In everyone’s life, he will encounter many things; some conform to his expectations, some do not. These bitter and sorrow experiences are arranged and predestined by God, and in face of them he should have a seeking and obedient attitude. When one learns lessons from these things and achieves knowledge of the Creator, he will be able to set aside his extravagant desires and live a happy life, and be a created being who worships God. It is like Job. He believed that God rules over all things and also controls man’s fate. When Job lost his property and children, he didn’t complain or contradict, much less oppose with his power. Even when he was covered in boils and felt worse than death, he didn’t have his own request or desire, didn’t fear death, and still submitted to God’s sovereignty and arrangement and praised God. Faced with the temptation of Satan, Job stood witness for God, and at last he lived out a valuable and meaningful life, gaining God’s approval.
Through reading God’s words, Zhi Peng understood: The fate of my whole life, and my birth, aging, sickness, and death are all in God’s hands. What God has arranged for me are all good, and I should seek the truth in them, and submit to God’s authority. I shouldn’t simply refuse and evade them in my heart and live in fear. God used only one word to create the heavens and earth and all things, let alone cure my illness. If God wants one to die, he cannot be saved by any good doctor; if God wants one to live, no matter how serious his disease is, he can still get cured. Zhi Peng understood : For everyone who came into this world, if he can’t seek the truth to understand God’s heart and have knowledge of Him in all manner of trials arranged by Him, if he can’t submit to God’s authority and fulfill the duty entrusted by the Creator to know Him, he will be fearful when death comes, and will feel ashamed to see the Creator. Only when he, like Job, seeks the truth and submits to the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangement, and has some knowledge of Him in trials, will he be able to face the death calmly without fear.
Zhi Peng prayed, “God! I’m too blind and foolish. I live under Your sovereignty, but I know nothing about Your authority and have never obeyed You. When disease came to me, I wanted to get rid of it by my own power, living in fear and suffering hardships and torments. From now on I’m willing to commit myself in Your hand, learn to submit to Your sovereignty and arrangement. Even if I have this disease all my life, or even if death comes upon me, I’m willing to submit to You and won’t complain.”
After that, Zhi Peng read God’s word and experienced His word every day. When encountering things, he experienced the authority of God’s word and truly felt His sovereignty and arrangement. Zhi Peng became happy more and had more faith to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangement. He felt that after he submitted to God’s sovereignty and arrangement, not only did he receive grace from God, but also he understood some truths and had a true knowledge of God through years of experiences, which were the most precious to him. God’s word is truly the way, the truth, and the life. Under the guidance of His word, Zhi Peng finally untied the death-knot that had bound him for years. He obtained true release and freedom.
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