A Facebook Friend posed this question, “Is religion nothing more than a mere tool to control and placate the souls of those who find life unbearable?” A colleague who’s an atheist suggested, “Fervent Christians are likely to be people who need a crutch to cope with problems.” An acquaintance who used to attend church cites children in crisis as one of his reasons for questioning the goodness and love of God.
I’ve been asked, “Have such thoughts ever crossed your mind?”
The answer is, “Yes, of course.”
Another query has been, “Do you ever get discouraged?”
Again, my reply was in the affirmative.
Those who know me will testify that it isn’t naiveté or a refusal to face up to the real world that causes me to put my trust in God. I’ve never resorted to having an imaginary friend or security blanket. And I always knew that Santa Claus was just a man with stomach padding in a red suit. But I’ll admit to trying to spot a pixie or brownie in my garden as a kid due to a surfeit of fairy tales by prolific British writer Enid Blyton.
My faith isn’t a mindless, unquestioning state of affairs. God who created humans in His image is the ultimate source of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, justice and love. And truth seekers will find that He’s more than able to satisfactorily address any of our doubts, uncertainties and concerns.
A biblical prophet Isaiah quoted the Almighty as saying, “Come now, let us reason together” and “Present your case, says the LORD, set forth your arguments.” Even a casual reading of the Scriptures would uncover men who challenged God and went on to be leaders who accomplished great exploits for Him.
It’s in the knowing that faith and trust are built, isn’t it?
When we know that someone or something is reliable, we won’t hesitate to depend on them.
We plonk ourselves on chairs that have served us well rather than gingerly lowering ourselves into them. We’re certain that we can count on loved ones who’ve been there for us through thick and thin. We feel confident about approaching those who readily agreed to help when we last sought their assistance.
My Experience With God
Encounter upon encounter, He has never let me down. Year after year, He has been present for me through good times and bad. Decade into decade, He has been faithful, patient, kind and loving. Instantly ready to forgive and embrace when I run to Him, even after my season of relinquishing Him to the sidelines of my life. Immediately offering counsel and comfort when situations turn sour. Always available to celebrate with me when I have reason to rejoice.
He’s a God who’s as real to me as the people around me. Perhaps even more so, for He’s the only one who is with me 24-7, no matter where I am, regardless of what I face, inspite of how I feel. No wonder He’s described by psalmists in the Bible as the Strength of My Life, a Very Present Help, Fortress of Defence, Rock of Refuge, Salvation and Light.
Two Faces of Parental Love
There’s a horrible story about a father who wanted to teach his son how harsh life could be. He placed the boy at the top level of a barn, then asked him to jump into his arms. When the kid did so in good faith, the dad pulled away. As the child hit the hard ground and groaned in pain, his father said, “This will teach you not to be so trusting.” Sadistic? Thus began a life of neurosis following the permanent loss of innocent trust.
Despite some hard knocks, I refuse to live a life of suspicion and distrust, always anticipating the worst, and hanging on tight to bitterness and regrets. I can’t fathom the concept that human beings are here by accident, fate or chance, and after rattling around for some years, we’ll just expire into nothingness.
Abundant life is what God wants us to have, both now and for eternity. As a parent who loves my two sons and would go to great lengths to ensure the best for them—may my ceiling be their floor!—I can well appreciate what Jesus meant when He described the nature of Father God.
“If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” -Matthew 7:11
“He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.” -1 John 4:8
There have been a couple of occasions when this thought flashed across my mind, “What if everything you’ve placed your hope in is just elaborate make belief? What if you come to the end of life on earth and find that there’s really nothing beyond?“
Well, I did test the limits of my physical existence back in February. According to patient.co.uk, “A Massive Pulmonary Embolism is so called not due to the actual size of the embolus (blood clot) but due to the size of its effect. Massive PEs are, by definition, high-risk.” Endovascular Today provides these statistics, “The overall mortality rate of Massive PE approaches 60%, with most deaths occurring in the first 2 hours of presentation. It is second only to cardiac arrest as the leading cause of sudden death.”
When it was down to just me and God—or not—I found Him there, just as I had expected based on what He’d promised in His inspired Word the Bible. Chalk up one more encounter with the Living God who’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, He who was and is and is to come.
So when doubt comes knocking again, remembrance of the countless times that God showed up means I won’t entertain what’s contrary to my experience. For me, personally, the score’s entirely in His favour.
Sure, there are things that I don’t fully understand. As a family member pointed out, “You thank God for saving you but why didn’t He stop you from getting blood clots in the first place?”
In short, I believe that my God never intended there to be sickness or sorrow on earth when He created humans. What He wanted was a loving relationship with beings made in His image who would enjoy pure goodness. Yet the first couple Adam and Eve were tempted by satan the fallen angel turned devil to disobey God, and when they succumbed, the human race became vulnerable to all things evil. That’s why the immeasurable love of Father God prompted Him to send His Son Jesus to die on the Cross to redeem us from our fallen nature, and through His divine resurrection raise us back to the original glorious hope of eternal joy and undefiled intimacy with Him.
Each day I learn a little more about my God, His nature, character and will. If I knew Him better I would be a more accurate representation of Him, but I can only be His Ambassador to the extent that I currently know Him. It all boils down to knowing, and as God is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, this is an exciting journey and adventure that will never end!
IT FELT GOOD…
…To successfully complete my first session of worship leading after a break of several months. I’ve regained enough breath, stamina and energy and am ready for more! I’m fond of my Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar—it’s a great companion for my Yamaha Grand Concert classical guitar.
…To be back in the gym after staying away.
Close-to-midnight walks have been my main form of exercise in recent weeks, prompting a friend visiting from India to note that only in Singapore can a lone woman move around freely and safely in the night. It’s indeed a blessing that I’m mindful of each time I set out. As I felt ready to resume more strenuous activity last week, I visited a gym to try out several machines but hit a snag when my heart rate surged to 160 within 10 minutes of working out on an Elliptical Trainer.
Doctor Charming referred me to a lovely physiotherapist at SGH whom I’ll write more about after further sessions at her gym on the third floor of the National Heart Centre. During the first assessment at the well-equipped gym, I was taught to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N because my heart seems to be rather sensitive at this juncture to changes in movements, especially sudden ones. It’s going to take some adjusting because the recommended walking pace brought to mind a vivid picture—I imagined myself s.l.o.w.l.y window shopping to kill time while waiting for a friend who’s extremely late!
There are several reasons behind my usually rather fast walking speed.
Participation in Singapore Youth Festival outdoor band competitions and National Day Parades during my school days required brisk marching and precise steps to create complex formations. And when I started my broadcast journalism career as a reporter, rushing to catch newsmakers for interviews at events or constantly moving ahead of politicians on their walkabouts so as not to miss any action was par for the course.
A Paternal Legacy
Then there’s the example of my late father who was a Speedy Gonzales well into his eighties, before he developed Senile Dementia. He was a great storyteller who’d spring up to act out his youthful exploits, kindling my interest in the dramatic form and musicals.
He would pluck chilli padi that he’d grown in our back garden and pop them straight into his mouth. While I haven’t graduated to that yet, I do consume an immense amount of the spicy condiment, a liking I share with my siblings.
You Are Good – Bethel Music
Lyrics/Music: Brian Johnson
Holy Spirit – Jesus Culture
Lyrics/Music: Bryan Torwalt, Katie Torwalt
I’ve Found A Love – Bethel Music
Lyrics/Music: Ben Cantelon
The Lord Reigns – Gateway Worship
Lyrics/Music: Klaus Kuehn
The Lord reigns, let the people shout!
He reigns in righteousness
Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice!