Events that unfolded in the last few months have many Christians in this country grappling with worries and insecurities.
First, was the deadly spread of the COVID-19 virus epidemic. What started as a localized incident in Wuhan China ramified rapidly to more than 110 countries within a few months. The last tally of infection (confirmed and unconfirmed cases) worldwide climbing to over 110,000 persons, and associated deaths of around 3,900, at the time of writing this article. Even in Malaysia, more than a hundred people have been suspected of contracting the infection, but with no death so far.
Second, and specific in our own nation, was the political turmoil in our government, accompanied by the replacement of our prime minister. To many, this political drama is a confusing twist to an unusual change in our government that has left us in a state of uncertainty regarding the stability of this country.
Amid these atrocities, many Christians begin to question the plan of God. Like them, I was worried whether Christ is paying attention to all these problems. I was even wondering whether this is all a test from Him. If it is so, it would be a very difficult test for the average Christian to pass. God should not test us this way, I reckoned. For we are weak, and will surely fail. Just as how Adam and Eve failed Him since the beginning of mankind.
As I ponder wearily upon all these, the following verse in the Bible came to mind.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
I am reminded that the secular world is not trouble-free. It is not meant to be devoid of chaos and problems. As Christians, we are not supposed to rely on and trust humans and governments to be the purveyors of peace and security. Of course, we will constantly face troubles as long as we still remain on earth. Christ never promised us that our life on earth is to be peaceful all the time. However, He assured us that as long as we find peace in Him, we shall have peace in this world. For Christ is the Master who can and have already overcome all adversities and uncertainties.
A difficult thought
This is a very difficult thought to grasp, and a near impossible attitude to embrace. How can we feel and find peace amid these tumultuous worldly events just by looking towards Christ? Some may even criticize this move as a form of escapism. Then, I look at my life and personal walk with God over the past several years, and this verse begins to make sense to me.
In the past 10 years, two major events unfolded in my life. First was my career. I was sidelined for promotion despite having met the requirement both in merits and seniority. The ire and frustration from this have consumed me so much that it affected my physical and spiritual health. Then some years ago, my church started a ministry where we could fellowship with our indigenous brothers and sisters at a shopping mall every Saturday. This is the Bahasa Malaysia Boulevard Fellowship programme started by Faith Methodist Church. When I volunteered for this ministry, little did I know that it was a therapeutic avenue for me physically and spiritually.
Every Saturday evening when I worship, pray, and learn the Bible together with my native brothers and sisters in Christ, I was uplifted in spirit and joy. All the negatives that I absorbed from Monday to Friday at work disappeared just like that on Saturday. When I walk with and for Christ, indeed peace was the reward. So, every week I would look forward to the Saturday evening where I find great and exceeding joy among my Christian brothers and sisters. Most importantly, I was able to not allow my career dictate my happiness, rather my focus on Christ became the joy that consumed me.
Unbeknownst to me, Christ was working on my career. In July 2019, the university top management finally promoted me to a full professor. From this, I learnt that Christ has not forgotten our pain and suffering. However, He wants us to focus on Him, and trust in Him first. We cannot allow our secular lives and desires to overwhelm us, to consume us until it became our god other than the true God Himself. Yes, many of us unintentionally make our earthly needs to be our god rather than recognizing that Christ is the true King. We fret over our financial well-being, career advancement, romantic happiness, and many other matters. We prayed but silently we doubted Him. Christ is not like us. He has given me peace every week for several years that, when I looked back, I realized that it is my walk with Him every Saturday for those years that I survived 10 years of waiting, 7 promotion applications, and 4 interviews to reach my career dream. Isn’t Jesus Christ the greatest of all?
The second major event in my life pertains to my health. In 2010, I realized that I have a high blood pressure problem, and was diagnosed in 2013 to be suffering from Stage 1 hypertension. Since then, through various personal efforts in lifestyle adjustment that includes dieting, food restriction and physical exercise (jogging), I was able to improve my health conditions albeit painstakingly. However, it did not last. Lifestyle change was hard to maintain when we are doing it using our own will power. In October 2019, I was told by the doctor that my hypertension problem has worsened to Stage 2, and was then put on anti-hypertensive and cholesterol lowering medication. A week ago, I was informed that there is a possibility that I have arterial blockage. This news was hard for me to accept.
When God has taken care of my career, my health turns out to be the next trouble. When is it going to end? Sensibly now, I should be thinking why God cannot grant me peace and joy forever without any moment of trouble at all. We all like to have it that way, isn’t it?
As a Christian, I now know that eternal joy and peace from Him is not possible when we are still on earth. I know now that, like before, I cannot let my personal problem overwhelm me. I can still find joy and peace by my walk with and for Him every day, and not just on Saturdays. Christ is neither a stranger nor indifferent to our worries, pain and sufferings. He has suffered greatly on the cross well beyond what mankind can endure in order to save us from eternal damnation. He has overcome all the pain, madness, cruelty and injustice for us. So, how can he not understand our pain? We cannot escape the reality of secular life but we can hold on the promises that He will always be there to walk with us throughout our journey in earth.
I have learnt to let Him take control of my life, and focus on Him at all times. For me, serving Him gives me the greatest peace and joy. Joining ministry is not escapism from our worldly troubles, but letting Him use us for greater things than just our own self-concerns. It works for me, and I know it will work for you too.
Remember, we are not the master of our own peace and security. In a world fill with persistent uncertainties, look to Christ for hope and wisdom. He has not failed us, and He never will, if we believe in Him. After all, Christ is the true Master over all our uncertainties, and He has overcome it all.