A Money-grubber’s Reflection on Life After an Earthquake

By Jingru, Japan

At about 8 am on June 18, 2018, I was ready to start working in the workshop as usual. At that moment, I suddenly heard a rumble, the earth began to shake, and the ground began to cave in. When we saw the door of the workshop closed with a bang, we realized that it was an earthquake, and my colleagues and I scrambled to escape the building. When I had finally run to an open place, the fear and terror of the moment truly struck me. Although I knew Japan was a country with many earthquakes, I never expected to actually experience one. In that moment, my mind was a blank and my legs went soft. Aside from constantly calling out to God, I didn’t know what else to do. Through prayer, I gradually calmed myself.

In just a few minutes, more than a hundred people were gathered in the open space, everyone looked flustered. Some stood there with blank expressions, too terrified to move, while others couldn’t stop trembling, and others still clung to each other in fear. One of my female colleagues said anxiously, “Oh no, I bought a necklace a few days ago, and I still have a lot of jewelry at home. If my house collapses, all those things will be gone!” The person standing next to her also nervously said, “My gold and silver jewelry is also at home, I didn’t bring it out with me.” At this moment, the older woman who had been crying said proudly, “I’ve been through an earthquake before, and it scared me to death. Ever since then, I carry my passport, bank cards, and all my valuables with me every day.” I looked at her, and she had five rings and two bracelets in her hands. While she was talking, some of my other colleagues began to cry in fear.

businesswoman with money
Freepik

When I saw the way my colleagues behaved, I suddenly felt very sad, as if I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I felt that we were living pitiable lives. We often say that fate is in our hands, but when disaster comes, who can control what happens to oneself in the next moments? But it seems like no one was thinking about that question. Even in the panic of an earthquake, people were still worried about their money and jewelry. At that moment, I remembered a passage from God’s word, “Because people do not recognize God’s orchestrations and God’s sovereignty, they always face fate defiantly, with a rebellious attitude, and always want to cast off God’s authority and sovereignty and the things fate has in store, hoping in vain to change their current circumstances and alter their fate.” I realized that because we don’t understand God’s sovereignty, we don’t understand that people’s fate is in God’s hands, which is why we all want to change our fates, and why we are so busy working to earn money and pursuing the life we want. The truth is that we are just small, insignificant individual people. Who could possibly control and change their own fate? When I thought of this, I was especially grateful to God for His kindness in giving me the privilege to hear the voice of God and recognize God’s sovereignty. So, I silently called out to God in my heart, asking God to guide me and give me the courage to face the earthquake. Slowly, I wasn’t so scared, and I knew that God was my strongest protection.

We stayed outside for nearly half an hour, and when we saw that there were no more aftershocks, our boss sent us back to work. When we returned to the workshop, my colleagues were still in fear, and didn’t have any heart to work at all, so they all asked for leave and went home, until finally only myself and two Vietnamese people were left.

There were four aftershocks that night, but I wasn’t afraid, because I relied on God. When I went to work the next day, I saw several colleagues carrying large pieces of luggage to work. Some even carried their luggage with them when they went to the cafeteria to eat, saying that they could escape at any moment if an earthquake hit. In the next few days, the aftershocks continued, and everything my colleagues talked about had to do with the earthquake. Some were checking the price of tickets back to their countries every day, and they were ready to buy tickets if the earthquake happened again. Although I was affected to some degree by these circumstances, and was afraid for my own safety, by reading God’s words, I was able to face it calmly.

I thought of God’s words: “One exhausts a lifetime’s worth of energy fighting against fate, spends all of one’s time bustling about trying to feed one’s family and shuttling back and forth between wealth and status. The things that people treasure are family, money, and fame; they view these as the most valuable things in life. All people complain about their fates, yet still they push to the back of their minds the questions that it is most imperative to examine and understand: why man is alive, how man should live, what the value and meaning of life is. All of their lives, however many years that may be, they just rush about seeking fame and fortune, until their youth has fled, until they become gray and wrinkled; until they see that fame and fortune cannot stop one’s slide toward senility, that money cannot fill the emptiness of the heart; until they understand that no one is exempt from the law of birth, aging, sickness, and death, that no one can escape what fate has in store. … When one has property, one thinks that money is one’s mainstay, that it is one’s asset in life; when people have status, they cling tightly to it and would risk their lives for its sake. Only when people are about to let go of this world do they realize that the things they spent their lives pursuing are nothing but fleeting clouds, none of which they can hold onto, none of which they can take with them, none of which can exempt them from death, none of which can provide company or consolation to a lonely soul on its way back; and least of all, none of which can give a person salvation, allow them to transcend death.” Yes, the influence of views like “money comes first” and “money makes the world go round” makes us regard money as the only thing we can rely on, and makes us think that having money means we have everything, which is why we spend our lives fighting so hard for it, but we never think about where our lives come from, or the real value and significance of our existence. Is money really something we can rely on? I thought about my colleagues, and how each of them had saved a lot of money, but when the earthquake came, did that money buy them a safe and secure life? The earthquake filled them with fear and insecurity. I thought about the earthquake in Wenchuan, China in 2008. How many rich people escaped that earthquake? Were they not affected by the disaster all the same? So many facts are laid out before us, but because we have not come before God, we do not reflect on the value and meaning of life, and we do not realize that the money we love is something outside of us, something that cannot bring us peace or save us from disaster. This is truly a great tragedy for humanity!

woman at seaside

I remembered that when I first came to Japan, my only thought was to make money. My job was to polish the parts of the car that had just come off the production line, and there was a lot of dust produced in the process of grinding, dust which contained a lot of lead. Even wearing two breathing masks, there were still two dark circles below my nose at the end of the day. And it was summer, so the temperature in the workshop was over 40 degrees, and we had to work at least 10 hours a day. At the end of the day, my clothes were soaked. My body couldn’t take such heavy work, and I started to feel numbness in my right arm and fingers. Fortunately, God’s salvation came to me just in time, and through God’s miraculous arrangements I was able to change my job to product testing. The work was easier, and gradually my hand recovered. But, because I didn’t know God’s sovereignty, I couldn’t see the value and meaning of life. Although I followed God, I didn’t give up my pursuit of money. I still chose to work overtime when there was a conflict between overtime and meetings. After the earthquake, I thought about that very carefully. Without God’s care and protection, when disaster and death come, all the money in the world couldn’t rid me of the fear and terror in my heart or give me a sense of spiritual security, and even less could it safeguard my life.

Later, I read 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.” God’s word made me understand the value and meaning of living as a created being. All that I have comes from God, it was God that gave me the opportunity to understand His sovereignty and authority, and He also gave me the chance to fulfill the duties of a created being. I ought to pursue the truth, experience God’s work, pursue knowledge of God, and fulfill my duty as a created thing. These are the correct goals to pursue in life. Later, I spoke with my bosses to request a reduction in my overtime work, and they agreed. When I could attend meetings regularly with my brothers and sisters, I felt a release in my heart that I have never felt before. Thanks be to God for making me reflect on my life and giving me a new understanding through this earthquake. Now, I know how to live so that my soul feels peace and joy.

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