By Chen Wei
When you’re young you trade your life for money and when you’re old you trade money for your life: This is the story of many people’s lives. Life is priceless—life and money simply aren’t interchangeable. In an age that sees money as life itself, we end up becoming slaves to money, but what value is there in it? How can we rewrite our stories of living as slaves to money? You’ll certainly learn from Chen Wei’s experience!
Opening a Business for Money and Admiration
After getting married Chen Wei discovered that her mother-in-law’s attitude toward her was completely different from her attitude toward her other daughter-in-law. Her other daughter-in-law worked in a bank, and their mother-in-law greeted her full of smiles every day when she came back and really fawned over her. But Chen Wei stayed at home to take care of their child, and even if she’d taken care of all the housework for the day she still couldn’t win her mother-in-law’s favor. This left Chen Wei feeling really dejected. On top of that, every time her husband, who just loafed around, got drunk and started an argument with her, even though it was very clearly him being unreasonable, her mother-in-law would always take her husband’s side. She’d compare Chen Wei to her other daughter-in-law who earned more money. Chen Wei just suffered in silence in the face of these cutting remarks and stuffed the bitterness. She felt like it was entirely a result of her not having money, and if she did, she wouldn’t be treated that way. She thought of how she has good tailoring skills and could surely earn some money that way. So, she left their son, just over a year old, at home with his grandmother and opened up her own tailoring shop.
Going All Out to Earn Money and Basking in the Status
Chen Wei made very well-fitting, flattering clothing and she had no shortage of customers. Every day she was busy taking measurements, making cuts, stitching edges, and sewing clothing—she often didn’t have time to eat lunch until one or two in the afternoon. She’d go hungry for a bit before finally eating, and she was so exhausted that every day left her back aching, but as she saw bill after bill of money coming into her hands, she felt very pleased and that the suffering was worth it.
Before long they were able to buy several new items of furniture for the home, and when her relatives and friends saw their fashionable furnishings, they all gave her a thumbs up and praised her for money-making skills. Her husband’s attitude toward her very clearly improved and her mother-in-law made a complete 180, praising her abilities to everyone. Her mother-in-law’s praise and her husband’s solicitousness made her very pleased with herself and drove her on. With emotion, she thought, “Having money is wonderful! Everyone looks up to you.”
Year after year slipped by like grains of sand in an hourglass. Chen Wei got up early and stayed up late every day so she could make more money and worked like a machine; she took orders during the day and worked at night to complete them. Sometimes she was so exhausted that her back hurt and she could hardly straighten it, but she couldn’t bring herself to take a break. When she became so sleepy that she couldn’t keep her eyes open she’d lie down for a quick nap, then keep working when she woke up. Sometimes she’d keep working even after pulling an all-nighter. When her birth family saw her dealing with so much material, concerned for her, they said, “Seeing you do all this work on your own is really worrying. Don’t ruin your health from exhaustion.” Cheerfully, she responded with, “Worrying? As long as I’m making money I don’t care about the hardship.” Every time she was out walking around and saw a look of envy and admiration in someone else’s eyes it was as sweet as honey to her. She couldn’t help but calculate: “While I’m still young I can earn a little more and buy a nice house in the city, and then a car. Wouldn’t that be impressive! Then I can put some money away and have an easy life when I’m old. It’ll all be worth it!” Thinking of all this she couldn’t help but smile. Driven by her desire to earn money, she didn’t want to put her work down for a single second….
Stricken With Illness, She Reaches a Dead End
Chen Wei ended up with uterine fibroids after such long-term exhaustion, and after her surgery her doctor warned her not to tire herself out too much, or they could recur. But money was too important to her, so as soon as she started to recover a bit, she threw herself back into her busy work life without the slightest hesitation. She then started having more and more health issues: She had a lumbar disc herniation, cervical spondylosis, and started experiencing vertigo. One time she got so dizzy that she couldn’t do any work and went to see the doctor. Shocked, the doctor told her, “Your blood pressure is incredibly low, at 48. You’re still working in this condition—do you have a death wish?” But she thought, “If I stop I won’t be able to earn any money, but if I’m sick I can get through it by taking some medicine. I have to take advantage of my youth and keep working—earning more money is critical!” She kept on working day and night and she became seriously physically depleted. On the 300-meter walk from her house to her shop she would have to rest three times. Her back started hurting so much that she couldn’t stand up, so she made clothing while sitting, and in the evening would keep working on that day’s orders while propped up in bed.
Chen Wei dragged her illness-riddled body through two or three more years of work until she eventually ended up bed-ridden, unable to move. She even needed her husband’s help when going to the bathroom. She was in a panic, consulting doctors and looking into medication everywhere she could—she’d rush to buy any medication she heard was effective, but she had been under such strain for so many years that no medication was able to relieve her pain. It felt like her back was broken—it was painful it brought her to tears and kept her up all night. After six months of being confined to her bed, she still hadn’t seen any improvement. In extreme despair and pessimism she asked herself, “I’m only in my 40s; how could I be bed-ridden this way? I’ve worked hard to earn some money but that money can’t cure my illnesses. How can I continue to live like this? What use is all that money and what’s the point of living like this? It would be better to just die and get it over with.” With great effort she hoisted herself up and dragged herself along the wall to get two bottles of pesticides. She put them under the bed so she could drink them when she found herself truly unable to take it any longer…. But then she felt that she wasn’t willing to die that way so she called out in her heart: “God! I wanted to make some money and have a life of affluence. I never imagined what I’d get would be all these health problems. How could this happen? What is a meaningful pursuit in life? What kind of life won’t be so painful?”
Encountering God’s Salvation She Finds Direction in Life
God heeded Chen Wei’s cry—He extended a loving hand to her. In the fall of 2012, one of her relatives shared God’s gospel of the kingdom with her and read this passage of God’s words for her: “There is an enormous secret in your heart, of which you have never been aware, for you have been living in a world without light. Your heart and your spirit have been wrested away by the evil one. Your eyes are obscured by darkness, and you can see neither the sun in the sky nor that twinkling star of the night. Your ears are clogged with deceitful words, and you hear neither the thunderous voice of Jehovah, nor the sound of the waters flowing from the throne. You have lost everything that is rightfully yours, everything that the Almighty bestowed upon you. You have entered an endless sea of affliction, with no power of rescue, no hope of survival, and all you do is struggle and rush about.” “When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time. He is keeping watch by your side, waiting for you to turn back around. He is waiting for the day you suddenly recover your memory: when you realize that you came from God, that, at some unknown time you lost your direction, at some unknown time you lost consciousness on the road, and at some unknown time acquired a ‘father’; when you realize, furthermore, that the Almighty has always been keeping watch, waiting there a very, very long time for your return.”
Her relative shared this fellowship with her: “We human beings have been so deeply corrupted by Satan—we don’t know that we were created by God, and we particularly don’t know that we should worship God. We all distance ourselves from Him and live under the domain of Satan; we’ve lost God’s care and protection. We rush to and fro for the sake of money and status, struggling with each other and even hurting and killing each other. God can’t bear to see us continue to be harmed by Satan, so in the last days He has become flesh and expressed the truth, exposing all sorts of tricks Satan uses to corrupt mankind. This way we can learn to discern good and evil. He has also pointed out the right direction in life for us. God hopes that we can come before Him and live in accordance with His words, obtaining His protection and blessings. We are so blessed that we can now hear God’s gospel. I was just like you before I became a believer. I put money above all else, thinking that with money I could have a life that was better than others’, that they would look up to me. To earn money, my husband and I bought a plot of land and started growing tobacco and worked the land until dark every day, doing nothing else except for eating and sleeping. Once we had earned some money I just wanted more—my desires grew and grew. I became a slave to money and exhausted myself to the point that I had a lumbar disc herniation as well as a serious gynecological inflammation—it was nearly the end of me. Later after accepting God’s work of the last days, by reading God’s words and living a life of the church, I gradually came to understand the truth and knew that only by having faith and worshiping God can our lives have meaning. I also clearly saw that pursuing wealth was a tactic Satan uses to corrupt us, and it’s Satan who has us struggling to earn money at all costs; we’ll pay any price for money, and ultimately we distance ourselves from God, lose His protection, and ruin our lives. After I was able to clearly see Satan’s tricks I attended more gatherings and read God’s words more—I developed a sense of fullness and joy that I had never had before. I slowly started seeing money as less important and no longer worked so hard. It wasn’t long before I had recovered my health. Chen Wei, you really should read God’s words as well—they can help you understand the truth, and when you read them more you’ll be able to see into many sorts of things. You’ll know what the most meaningful pursuit in life really is.”
A myriad of feelings welled up in Chen Wei when she heard God’s words and her relative’s fellowship—she felt like a child who had been lost for years suddenly returning to her mother’s embrace. Her heart, riddled with wounds, gained some comfort and she said with deep emotion, “So it’s because we distance ourselves from God and don’t understand the truth that we just constantly pursue money and get onto the wrong path. That’s why we’re living in so much pain. As an unbeliever this is something I’ve really never seen! All these years I’ve spared nothing to earn more money, working day and night and living just for the sake of money. Now I’m riddled with illnesses—this kind of life is too difficult. From now on, I won’t live for the sake of money, but I’ll put my faith in God.” Chen Wei happily accepted God’s salvation of the last days.
Finding the Root of Her Suffering She Defies Satan’s Temptations
Chen Wei started living a life of the church. The brothers and sisters encouraged her to read more of God’s words and she learned how to rely on God through her illness and fight the disease. She felt true warmth in her heart. She continued to read God’s words every day and she felt a fullness in her heart that she never had before; her health improved by the day. She gave thanks for God’s love from her heart.
As her health was improving, hearing about someone earning some money still stirred her. Her brother’s wife opened up a cloth store and asked Chen Wei to be her in-house tailor—the salary was considerable. This made her think of when she had money, how everyone praised her and thought highly of her, so she told her sister-in-law she would give it some thought. After she left Chen Wei made some calculations: Making one article of clothing would take a little over ten minutes and she could earn a little over ten yuan, plus she’d be working in her sister-in-law’s store which wasn’t too far from home—it was the best of both worlds. She got her scissors out that she had packed away and had gotten rusty to sharpen them and wiped off the board she used for cutting down cloth, getting ready to throw herself back into it. But then she gave it a bit more thought. She hadn’t fully recovered her health, so if she got sick again wouldn’t she be putting herself into another bad situation? Conflicted, she prayed to God: “God, hearing what my sister-in-law had to say today I felt like I wanted to start earning money again, but I’m worried about wearing myself out again. I don’t know what to do—please enlighten and guide me in this.”
After praying, Chen Wei read these words of God: “‘Money makes the world go round’ is a philosophy of Satan, and it prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person. … Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. How is this thing that is revealed to be interpreted? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! So after Satan uses this trend to corrupt people, how is it manifested in them? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Moreover, do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is this not a loss for people? (Yes.) Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick?”
Chen Wei realized from God’s words that Satan misleads people with fallacious perspectives like “Money makes the world go round,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” and “Money is first.” This makes people feel that if they have money, they have everything, and that with money they can win others’ respect. Steeped in this kind of wrong thinking, many people trade their life for money when they’re young, and then just trade money for their life when they’re old. They think nothing of damaging their health for the sake of earning money and then are terribly tormented by disease. Some even lose their lives. Chen Wei realized that she had lost herself in the trend of thinking that “Money makes the world go round.” Just so that her mother-in-law, husband, and others around here would regard her highly, so that she could hold her head up high, she had handed her one-year-old child over to her mother-in-law and had worked day and night like a machine—that went on for over a decade. As a result, she was exhausted to the point of illness, her back hurt so much she couldn’t stand up straight, and her blood pressure was so low that she was on the verge of fainting. In spite of all this, she still wouldn’t take the time to seek treatment, but instead just took some medication and kept on working. She had become a total slave to money until she was unable to move and confined to her bed, completely unable to work. She also thought of how, after she came before God and was no longer struggling to earn money, her health had gradually improved. She had also come to understand some truths; she felt freedom and release in her heart. She realized that no matter how much money she had, she couldn’t buy her health back and that the meaning of life isn’t to earn money, but is to be able to hear God’s words and live in accordance with them. With that kind of life, she’d be at ease and at peace with God’s care and protection. She declined her sister-in-law’s offer.
An Epiphany Leads Her Onto the Right Track in Life
One evening when Chen Wei was coming back from a gathering she heard her neighbors having a lively discussion. Listening closer she heard that Li Yu, a fellow tailor, had gotten intestinal cancer. She went to the hospital for treatment, but it was ineffective and she died. Chen Wei overheard a neighbor say, “It’s really a shame that she died at such a young age. No matter how much money she earned, it couldn’t save her life….” Chen Wei was really struck by what this neighbor had said: People’s lives are fragile and when death comes, we’re completely helpless. No amount of money can save a person’s life. She thought of how she had been harmed by Satan in the past and had worked both day and night to earn money. She had surgery for uterine fibroids and her doctor told her not to do any tiring work, but she didn’t spare her body, instead continuing to work hard to earn more money. She ended up exhausting herself to the point that she was bed-ridden. If it hadn’t been for God’s words allowing her to see through Satan’s tricks she would have stayed stuck in the vortex of money and her outcome would have been the same as Li Yu’s. Chen Wei knew that it was God’s care and protection that had allowed her to escape from Satan’s harm.
When she got back home she read God’s words and saw this: “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could live on, exempt from death. But only when they are about to die do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person may be, no matter how lofty their position, all are equally poor and insignificant in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second.” “There is an exceedingly simple way to free oneself from this state, which is to bid farewell to one’s former way of living; to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life; to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, view of life, pursuits, desires, and ideals; and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and the likeness of a human being. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. 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; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God.”
This brought up heartfelt emotions for her. “It’s true. No matter how much material wealth I may have and how much others look up to me, that can’t bring me true peace and it particularly can’t give me a longer life. God is the Creator and our fates are in His hands. Accepting and submitting to His rule and arrangements as well as taking the path of fearing God and shunning evil are the only things that can allow us to obtain His blessings and approval, and live out a life of meaning. Thinking of Li Yu who used to work in the same field and was just in her 40s—she was constantly busy earning money, had two houses, and her children were in college, but she ended up being unable to enjoy her twilight years. She got an untreatable illness and threw her life away. Even though I’ve earned some money over all these years, ultimately I was confined to my bed and was living in unspeakable suffering. I’ve really experienced that seeking money and status couldn’t save me from my sea of pain, and it especially couldn’t make up for the helplessness and emptiness in my heart. From this day forward, I just want to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and go in the direction that God indicates.”
Chen Wei finally found the right path in life, and performed her duty in the church in order to repay God’s love. She felt very fulfilled in every day that passed. All of her health conditions slowly healed over time and to her surprise, her husband, who had always been an idle loafer, got a proper job and went into business. Chen Wei saw God’s authority in ruling over everything and that as the Creator, He suitably arranges the life of every person. She became willing to give the rest of her years to God, to live by His words, and to live out a truly meaningful life!