Testing, Testing

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ (John 6:5-7 NIV)

When we are faced with a challenge what would be our response? Would it be one of faith, hope and love? Or would our response be one of fear, despair or indifference? What would be your internal and spontaneous response when faced with a challenge?

The company announces that your department will be affected by a restructuring exercise. The Polyclinic suddenly urges you to immediately go to the Accident and Emergency Department of a general hospital. Your daughter has sent hundreds of resumes to secure a job but all were unsuccessful.  You have been praying for a loved one to be cured of a serious illness for some months but the latest check-up showed that his condition was getting worse.

What is your response to these challenges? One of faith or fear? One of hope or despair? One of love or cold indifference? God is testing you because he has hopes that you have it in you to respond with faith, hope or love. When you respond with faith, hope or love, it pleases the Lord and puts a smile on his face. It gives him great pleasure and joy.

Philip was put to the test by the Lord. There are thousands of hungry folks here. “Philip how can we feed these people?” Philips reasoned and very rational response was, “No way we can feed them. We don’t have the finances. Why even six months’ salary could only put a mouthful in each of their mouths!”

Jesus knew he would do a miracle of multiplication. However, he always wanted his friends involved in his kingdom miracles and work. He had hoped that since Philip had seen the miracle of the supply of the wine he would say something like, “Lord you supplied wine supernaturally. Surely you can supply food supernaturally too!” But Philip did not say that, to the Lord’s disappointment. He relied on his own understanding and on what he saw and calculated. “No way Lord, we do not have the budget to take care of their needs.”

“Oh Philip, how long must I be with you guys. How many miracles must I do to show you my power and love? O you of little faith!” Did these thoughts flash through Jesus mind?

Thank you, Philip. You are not alone. We identify with you. I and many like me would respond as you have responded. We think in very human terms: by what our senses tell us. We are greatly limited by our lack of faith and imagination. We are too practical and realistic to imagine a solution that the faith of Jesus had actually grasped.

Lord increase my faith. Your ways are higher than my ways. When I am faced with challenges and limitations and impossibilities, help me to believe, to have hope, and to love. I want to bring a smile on your face, and great wonder in your eyes.

The Tampines brothers: the glory in the tragedy

the Tampines brothers went home to the LordA tragic accident saddened many Singaporeans this past week. Nigel Yap, 13 and his younger brother Donavan Yap, 7  who lived in Tampines, a housing estate, were ran over by a cement-maker  truck and were killed instantly. We later learned that they were Christians and we were inspired to hear that the older son had shared Christ with his mother which led to her salvation and reconciliation of his parent’s estranged relationship.  A translation of the mother’s touching eulogy at the funeral service has been circulating and I am making it available in this blog. It has to be God’s strength and grace that enabled her to bear witness with such glowing hope.

“Brothers and Sisters-in-Christ, peace be to you. To all… the strangers who came today, I don’t know you all, but because of your love, thank you for coming today, I really appreciate your presence here today. Your support gives my family & I a lot of strength, or else I won’t be able to stand here today. Today at about 4pm, while I was bathing, I heard a voice. A voice that tells me to share… how I came to know Jesus, and accepted Jesus. I come to know Jesus because of my eldest son. My son Nigel is a hyperactive child, and He gave us MANY problems. My husband & I were on the brink of divorce. I’m not saying 宗教 is not good, because I know this is a sensitive issue. I just want to share with you my experience. Now I do believe there is only One God. And there is really One God. And this God is good. There are divine ways and solutions we were trying to seek, we even went to Malaysia to calm our child. But we couldn’t find the way. My child gave us a lot of problems. But my sister introduced me to Jesus, she said “You tried every way. Why don’t you try and believe Jesus? He is also a God. Just come and try, if it doesn’t work then it’s okay.” So I agreed and decided to ask Jesus, it’s better to try than nothing right?  Once I believed in Jesus, my whole family has changed. In the past my husband and I always quarreled. At that time I was just a new Christian. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we will not have difficulties, we will still face different trials. But relying and trusting in Jesus, we will definitely triumph in every trial. Jesus saved our marriage. And through our eldest son, our whole family was so blessed. Actually Donovan’s not my second child, I had a miscarriage of my second child after 2 months. It was difficult trying to conceive him (cries).  After Donovan was born, He gave us a stronger encouragement. I believe that Donovan is from GOD, and I always thought, Nigel used to give us a lot of trouble, so God gave me Donovan to compensate what has been lost previously. Actually my thinking was very wrong indeed. Because God will surely give us the best. Nigel, is also my best son, my precious son. Last Saturday in the church Hokkien service, I was leading worship and Nigel was playing drums. My son, Nigel told me “Mummy, I don’t know how to drum, I don’t know how to drum Chinese New year songs.” I told him, “I know you can, you can surely do it!” And He really did. We were really good leading together. And my youngest son, He loved to dance and sing. In Sunday school, we also paired up for dancing and singing. And we were a great pair. I really thank God, that through this two sons, I have a lot more blessings than before. I believe right now, they are in heaven. During the night of tragedy, my sister dreamed that they were wearing white robes and a crown of glory, both holding hand-in-hand, and said ‘goodbye’ to my sister in laughter. I really believe one day I will meet them in heaven one day. Because of these two sons, I will continue to live on strongly… (cries). I really thank you Singaporeans, for showing your love and support. I am really extremely appreciative. God is so good. All Glory to God (Hallelujah).” (Transcript of the eulogy of the mother of the two Tampines’ brothers (30/01/2012) – Translated from Mandarin)

While we may be perplexed as to why such tragic things could happen to God’s children, we can be assured that God’s redemptive purpose will somehow mysteriously draw good out of this wreckage. Only that Day will reveal the full extent of good that will be redeemed out of this tragedy. Until then we peer through a frosted window into the mystery that sometimes surrounds life, and trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our own limited understanding and knowledge.  We keep our eyes on a loving, sovereign and wise God who loves us with His nail pierced hands.We look at the glory and the hope in the tragedy.

Lord we pray You will sustain the grieving parents, classmates and church mates of the two brothers who have gone home to be with the Lord. May your peace and comfort be their shield and tranquiliser in the coming months. And may the name of Christ be lifted high and proclaimed through this tragic loss.