Why Do We Live?

By Li Fang

Early one morning, I was just tidying up the breakfast table when I suddenly heard my father outside, calling me with a shaking voice: “Hurry! Your mother has fallen into the river and been rushed to hospital.” This sudden bad news frightened me, and I hurried with my father to the hospital. There, I saw my mother lying in the emergency room, but she had long since stopped breathing. As I looked at my mother’s cold body, my heart filled with overwhelming grief. We began taking care of the funeral arrangements for my mother. We spent a thousand yuan on a modern set of funereal clothes and spent 3 or 4 thousand yuan on a coffin. We also spent a lot of money on the cremation, so that there would be slightly larger bones left behind. The space before my mother’s gravestone was covered in flower baskets filled with fresh flowers, and there were all kinds of rare fruits. Her friends and neighbors all said that she had lived a good life, and that the things that accompanied her as she was cremated were the best there had ever been in the village.

Standing before her gravestone, seeing everything arranged there and listening to the feeble words of consolation, I thought a great deal. We live our lives rushing from one place to another, so what on earth was the meaning or the value of life? I thought of how my mother had always had such a strong disposition in life. When she was young, she opened a flour mill with my father, then they bought a truck to transport goods and earn money, and she lived a full life. When she had gotten old, she planted vegetables and raised pigs. All her life, she never rested and never admitted defeat. Though she never had much money, she always had enough to get by. Now she had many children and grandchildren and, once she had passed away, her children prepared for her an impressive and dignified send-off; but had her life really had any meaning? Had her life had any value? Could it be that we live to desperately work and strive so as not to lose out to others? Or do we live to be well-fed and clothed, and to have lots of children and grandchildren? Do we live only so that we will one morning or one night peacefully close our eyes and never open them again? Or do we live so that, after we are dead, we can have lots of friends and relatives give their condolences? I shook my head. I heard an elderly village doctor express his feelings, saying, “Ah, I think I understand! A person can live for 60 years and then go in a flash of smoke, and so can a person who lives 70, 80 or even 90 years!” And someone else said, “We busy ourselves for our families and for our children, yet we can’t take anything with us when we die….” Hearing them talk this way, I thought that if people live for their sons and for their daughters, muddling along their whole lives for prestige or for profit, then there really was no value to any of it, and no meaning. My mother had rushed about doing all she could to work hard all her life, and now she was a pile of ashes. Though she had been cremated in a thousand-yuan set of clothes, none of that meant anything to her. The family business my mother had strived all her life to build was no longer hers, and she took with her none of the wealth she had toiled for during her life. This allowed me to see a fact very clearly: My mother who had toiled her whole life still had ended up with nothing! At some point, my two elder brothers and younger sister stood before her gravestone discussing the life our mother had lived and, in a quiet voice, they talked about how they could make lots of money, how they could live proud, self-satisfied lives, and how they could stand out from the crowd …

We all live helplessly within these kinds of rules and we are incapable of detaching ourselves from them, and no one thinks about changing. The person I had been before used to live this way too. But now I had a new direction in life! For I had accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, had come to understand some truths from God’s words, and had recognized that the truths expressed by Almighty God expounded on the mysteries of life.

That evening, I read these words of God: “Because of the Creator’s sovereignty and predestination, a lonely soul that started out with nothing to its name gains parents and a family, the chance to become a member of the human race, the chance to experience human life and see the world; and it also gains the chance to experience the Creator’s sovereignty, to know the marvelousness of the creation by the Creator, and most of all, to know and become subject to the Creator’s authority. But most people do not really seize this rare and fleeting opportunity. 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…. When one is soon to depart from the world, one arrives at the gradual realization that everything in the world is drifting away, that one can no longer hold onto the things one possessed; then one truly feels that one still owns nothing at all, like a wailing infant that has just emerged into the world. At this point, one is compelled to ponder what one has done in life, what being alive is worth, what it means, why one came into the world…. 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” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Without the care, keeping, and provision of God, man cannot receive all that he was meant to receive, no matter how great the effort or struggle. Without the supply of life from God, man loses the sense of value in living and loses the sense of purpose in life” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

From God’s words, I understood that God rules and arranges people’s lives. Our coming into this world is arranged by God’s hands, it is an opportunity God gives us to experience life, and an opportunity God gives us to appreciate His sovereignty and know His authority. And yet we are always tempted by the things of this material world, and we live lives of material enjoyment, pursuing and competing for fame and profit. We simply do not seek to know God’s sovereignty, and thus we are incapable of experiencing God’s wondrous deeds. Thinking of the time since I accepted God’s work of the last days, I preached the gospel to my mother but she didn’t grab hold of this opportunity that is so rare. She knew only that the material world was the thing that was most real, and that it was what she needed! And now she is gone, and she has lost forever the chance to know the sovereignty of the Creator, and has lost forever the chance to surrender before the Creator. Now, even though there were so many fresh flowers before her gravestone and the space was filled with fruit, and all her children and grandchildren were there, what was any of it worth? Was it not all emptiness? I then thought of a sister in the church who had told me about her neighbor. Her neighbor was in business and worked so hard all day to make money. But the third day after his son got married, he was struck suddenly with an illness and fell to the floor. There was not enough time to save him, and so he died. Everyone in the village said, “He was only in his forties, he died too young. Ah, he must have had a million yuan! But no matter how much money someone has when they die, it all counts for nothing!” And someone said, “No matter how much money someone has, if they get a serious illness that cannot be cured, then it’s all useless!” This matter was widely discussed, and everyone sighed and shook their heads. This made me think of all the TV presenters, celebrities, movie stars and the heads of big companies—though they may possess a lot of material wealth and, it may be said, they have obtained both fame and fortune, it is all to no avail in the face of all kinds of different illnesses and death; it cannot buy them life. Just like that incredibly rich man named Wang who had 3.5 billion yuan in assets and was only 38 years old. Before he died, he said, “Faced with serious illness, I often think of my life, and I find that all the social prestige and the wealth that used to make me feel infinitely proud pales in the face of approaching death, and I see that it is all completely without meaning….” If people only become aware on their deathbeds of the fact that all the material things in the world, such as money, status, fame, mansions, famous brand cars etc., are as transient as fleeting clouds and that living for the sake of these things is completely devoid of value and meaning, then that’s too late. So how should we seek a life of value and meaning? I continued searching for answers in God’s words.

Afterward, I read some more of God’s words: “As someone who is normal, and who pursues the love of God, entry into the kingdom to become one of the people of God is your true future, and a life that is of the utmost value and significance. No one is more blessed than you—and why do I say this? Because those who do not believe in God live for the flesh, and they live for Satan, but today you live for God, and live to do the will of God. That is why I say your lives are of the utmost significance. Only this group of people, who have been selected by God, are able to live out a life of the utmost significance: No one else on earth is able to live out a life of such value and meaning” (“Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “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” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me the way, and I understood that people should not live just for the flesh, for that is an empty life. Created beings should live for God, and live to seek to love God, know God and satisfy God, bear witness to the Creator’s wondrous deeds and obey the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangements—this is the duty I should perform, and it is also my mission. Only this kind of life is the most meaningful, most worthy life. I wish to cherish this God-given opportunity, live for the truth and live for a just cause in accordance with God’s requirements, and do all I can to satisfy God!

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