In summer this year, the Christian Zhang Li began work at a large children’s amusement park. There were many job posts and different personnel were responsible for each post. Confronted with this kind of working environment, Zhang Li thought to herself: “No matter where I work, interpersonal relationships are the hardest to handle. For the sake of their own interests, people either engage in jealous disputes and scheme against each other, or they flatter each other and try to curry favor with each other—they live by satanic life philosophies in everything they do. I am a believer in God and everything I do and say must accord with God’s words. I must fear God and shun evil, not engage in any satanic life philosophy and not do anything that would bring shame on God’s name.”
On the first day, the manager arranged a comparatively easy job for Zhang Li. There wasn’t too much work to do, she could do her own thing while at work and she could finish work on time; Zhang Li felt very pleased with this job. But after being there for only two days, the manager arranged for her to work somewhere else which required her to be constantly cleaning. She also had to watch the children at all times and make sure they didn’t go wild, otherwise it was very hard to clean up after them. Zhang Li worked so hard every day that she didn’t even have time to rest.
One day, an exhausted Zhang Li finished work and went home, and she couldn’t help wondering to herself: “Some jobs at this amusement park are easy and some are strenuous. Everyone works at the same place, so why is it that some are allocated to the easy posts and some are allocated to places where there’s a lot of work to do?” Later, Zhang Li remembered what a colleague had said to her, that they were allocated to good posts only because they gave their manager gifts and said lots of nice things to them … Just then, the words “Those who do not flatter accomplish nothing” floated into Zhang Li’s mind, and she began to feel an idea coming: “So I’ll flatter my manager too and maybe then he’ll arrange an easy job for me. Should I buy him a present, or present him with a cash gift? Should I give him 200 yuan? No, that’s not enough. But if I bought something for him, what would I buy? If it’s too cheap, he’ll look down on me, but I can’t afford anything too expensive …”
Just as Zhang Li was pondering this, suddenly a passage of God’s words sprang to her mind: “Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question, ‘You have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much; what famous sayings do you live by?’ They will say, ‘The most important one is “Those who give gifts to officials are not struck by them, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.”’ Isn’t such speech representative of his nature? His nature is not to spare any means for obtaining position; being an official is what gives him life. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their handling things, and in their conduct and dealings with others—they are almost without a shred of truth—for example, their life philosophies, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. So, what flows through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan” (“How to Know Man’s Nature”).
God’s words woke her up immediately, and she thought: “Yes! ‘Those who give gifts to officials are not struck by them, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing’—is this not a life philosophy of Satan?” Zhang Li hurriedly found this passage of God’s words and diligently read it. As she contemplated these words, she thought of how she had made a resolution when she first started her job that she would practice God’s words and not live by satanic life philosophies. She never imagined that, as soon as something involved her own interests, she would consider using these satanic philosophies—flattery and giving presents to her manager—to wangle an easy job for herself and to reduce her physical discomfiture. She thought of the unbelievers and how they either gave gifts to get in through the back door and establish connections or they engaged in flattery, did all manner of dirty deals and complied with all manner of unwritten rules to win promotions, get rich and get a good job posting. In order to obtain the profits they desire, many people have no choice but to degrade themselves and curry favor with their superiors, they are incapable of taking a stand and conducting themselves properly, and they live very exhausting, painful lives. Some people use all the means at their disposal, even selling their own bodies, for a price, they live without a shred of dignity or integrity, and they abandon any standards of conduct. At that moment, Zhang Li finally saw that Satan was using these philosophies and axioms to corrupt and fool people; it was making people feel like they had no choice but to follow evil social trends in order to make a profit, and it was making them become increasingly corrupt and wicked. Gradually, mankind was heading little by little into degradation, and they would utterly lose all conscience, reason, integrity and dignity. Just then, Zhang Li realized that, if she really tried to flatter the manager and buy him gifts, then she would be just the same as an unbeliever; everything she did and said would then be built upon the philosophies and axioms of Satan, and God would hate and loathe her. “God requires that our speech and actions be open and aboveboard, that we speak truthfully, that we be on the level and honest, all so that we can live in the light and so that we avoid being fooled and harmed by Satan,” she thought. If she relied on Satan’s way of life to flatter, fawn on and suck up to the manager, so that the manager would give her the green light, just for the sake of satisfying her own physical interests and to swap to an easy job, wouldn’t she then be jumping into the quagmire in which Satan makes a fool of people? This was a disreputable way to do things, and it did not accord with God’s will and with His requirements for man. By reading God’s words, Zhang Li came to understand that Satan was using all manner of life philosophies to corrupt people, and she no longer wished to follow evil social trends or live by these life philosophies.
But Zhang Li still felt somewhat perplexed, and she thought: “If I don’t flatter my manager, will I be allocated to an even more exhausting place to work in the future?” Zhang Li’s heart was in turmoil, and she just didn’t know what to do. Just then, she read these words of God: “Your temperament, caliber, appearance, stature, family in which you were born, your job and your marriage, the entirety of you, even the color of your hair and your skin, and the time of your birth were all arranged by My hands. Even the things you do and the people you meet every single day are arranged by My hands, not to mention the fact that bringing you into My presence today is actually My arrangement. Do not throw yourself into disorder; you should proceed calmly” (“Chapter 74” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning). Zhang Li came to understand that God is the sovereign of all things and that all things are administered within God’s hands. What she encountered on a daily basis and what time she would be working in what post was all ruled and orchestrated in God’s hands—they were not things that she could change with her own efforts. Zhang Li’s heart then filled with light: She knew that she was a Christian and that she should pray and entrust this matter to God, let God take charge and arrange it all, and she knew she should not try to make any plans or arrangements relying on her own abilities, much less worry too much or become overly concerned about it. Even if the manager really did arrange for her to work in a strenuous job post, that would happen by God’s permission and there would be lessons there for her to learn—everything God does is good, and she knew that she should learn to obey. After reaching this understanding, Zhang Li wished to rely on God to experience her current situation and she wished to entrust her job over into God’s hands. No matter what job she would be allocated to, she wished only to submit to God’s sovereignty. She made a resolution not to live by Satan’s philosophies and axioms, not to flatter the manager using any underhanded means, and to perform the job she was supposed to perform well, with her feet planted firmly on the ground.
Several days later, the manager once again reallocated Zhang Li to yet another post. Only after she had begun this new job did Zhang Li realize that it was the most exhausting job in the whole amusement park. She had to stand all day long, without hardly any time to sit and take a break. What gave her even more of a headache was that this job involved dealing with money and, if she lost concentration for a moment, then she would tally the accounts up wrong, and then being criticized would be the least of her worries, as she would also have to make amends. Therefore, her brain had to be in a constant state of alertness, and the colleague who was teaching her this new role took a bad attitude toward her as well. This job was way too much for frail Zhang Li to handle, and she felt very stressed.
When the first day at this new job was over, Zhang Li asked the manager whether she could be swapped to another job, but he didn’t respond. Disappointed, Zhang Li returned home and lay on her bed, limp and motionless. She felt full of resentment toward the manager: “How could he arrange for me to work in such an exhausting area? This is what happens when I don’t give him presents. Maybe I should give him a little gift…?” Just then, Zhang Li suddenly remembered the resolution she had made just a few days ago to God, that she wished to obey in any situation and that, no matter what area she was allocated to, she would always be an honest person in accordance with God’s words, and would not conduct herself by satanic philosophies. She had made a resolution to God and she couldn’t allow her words to count for nothing or allow herself to cheat God. She thought that, since it had been arranged that she should work in this environment, then it must be happening with God’s permission, and therefore she must seek the truth more in this situation and experience it by relying on God and praying to God more. Thinking this, Zhang Li felt much calmer. And so, Zhang Li carried on living through this situation.
One day during her spiritual devotions, Zhang Li saw a passage in Sermons and Fellowship that said: “If the environment in which someone grows is all plain sailing, without any suffering, pain or setbacks whatsoever, can such an environment train that person to be strong of character? When one’s environment is entirely favorable and one grows like a flower in a greenhouse, what is the downside of this? (One becomes fragile.) And what are fragile people prone to? They become prone to dying young, to failing, to falling, to failing to flourish in life, to having no get-up-and-go about life. When your environment is too comfortable and easy, it really doesn’t do you much good. … So, what is the best environment to have? As far as anyone is concerned, the real environments arranged by God are the best, for it differs from person to person, as everyone is different” (“Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word ‘God Himself, the Unique III’ (VIII)” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (XIII)). After reading this passage from Sermons and Fellowship, Zhang Li had a better understanding of God’s will. As it turned out, God arranging for the manager to allocate her to the most exhausting job had God’s good will behind it. After pondering this for a while, Zhang Li understood that she was so young, and that she had only just entered the world of work and was lacking life experience. She had no ability to endure any of life’s hardships, and she became dispirited and weak the moment she encountered failure, or frustration, or something that was not to her liking. She was like a flower in a greenhouse that knew nothing of wind or rain; she was fragile and couldn’t stand a single blow. Only by experiencing many kinds of difficult environments and suffering could her willpower and her resolve to suffer hardships be strengthened, and only then would she be able to grow sturdy and strong. God allowing her to experience this difficult environment was so greatly beneficial to her. Moreover, God was using this environment to expose her corruption, to enable her to see how deeply corrupted by Satan she was and that, when she encountered a situation that did not tally with her own ideas, she complained and rebelled, she wanted to handle things by relying on the life philosophies of Satan, she was unable to persist in practicing the truth and her God-fearing heart was too weak. Zhang Li also came to understand that God’s will within this environment was that she pray and rely on God more, that she forsake her flesh, consciously practice the truth, not live by Satan’s life philosophies or life axioms, and be someone who could practice the truth and conduct herself with dignity. After she had understood these things, Zhang Li no longer felt bitter about her situation, but instead she wished to obey, to pay more attention to experiencing God’s words and God’s sovereignty and to learn to experience life. No matter how pained or exhausted her flesh would become, she wanted to practice in accordance with God’s words. At that moment, Zhang Li’s heart felt liberated at last.
Afterward, Zhang Li’s job continued to be very strenuous, but she no longer complained in her heart, and she was able to face it calmly. After a few days, a new colleague came to work alongside Zhang Li. Since the day her new colleague was allocated to her area, she never stopped complaining. She didn’t want to work in that area anymore and said that the other staff member was always miserable to her and kept telling her what she’d done wrong, and so on. After hearing her colleague’s rants, Zhang Li couldn’t help but recall her experience of how she herself had gone from feeling resentful to submitting in this job post, and she thought to herself: “If it hadn’t been for God’s words guiding me and leading me and enabling me to understand God’s will, I’d be like this colleague, unwilling to face up to this situation and living every day in a state of resentment, feeling incredibly depressed and unhappy. Only because my colleague doesn’t believe in God and has never read God’s words nor understood the truth does she live so painfully. Perhaps I should tell her of my own experiences.” And so, Zhang Li recounted her experiences of several days ago to her colleague, saying, “We’re still young right now and suffering a little hardship is a good thing. We have to experience all situations. We can stay in good environments and adapt to bad environments, and this is a kind of training for us. This is great and it will benefit us in the future …” When she’d finished, Zhang Li’s colleague started smiling and she nodded, saying, “Yes, you’re right!” After that, Zhang Li and her colleague began to encourage each other, and their hearts were no longer occupied by their previous worries.
Unexpectedly, not long after Zhang Li had had her change of heart about her job, she was reallocated to a relatively easier job post. Zhang Li felt both surprised and delighted, and she couldn’t quite believe it. She knew that everything was ruled and arranged in God’s hands, and she continually thanked and praised God. Although this matter may have seemed insignificant, after her experiences, Zhang Li truly came to appreciate that God’s good will is behind all things; God knew how much she could endure, He knew when it was appropriate for her to learn lessons in what places and, after she had learned the lessons she was supposed to learn, God then arranged a new environment for her to experience. At the same time, Zhang Li understood that flattery and living by life philosophies were not the only ways to get a good job. She came to understand that, no matter what job we do, it all rests with God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and that the most important things are to submit to God’s sovereignty, seek God’s will in all things and practice in accordance with God’s requirements. From the bottom of her heart, Zhang Li thanked God for guiding her.