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DUMC STORIES: LUKE TAN

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I’m not sure if you have ever felt the paralysis that comes from having your control (or sense thereof) stripped away from you. Prior to this season of life that I find myself in, I have never had this experience before, nor did I anticipate one to be coming my way.

2 years ago, I had some minor health issues that seemed manageable in the short run but turned out to be rather unusual in the life of a University student. That season of life soon unfolded to be the hardest time of my life. From a series of health issues that developed in me and my family, to various anxieties and fears that crept into my life, it all swarmed in and I had no support to stand firm. Later that year, I had inevitably developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) from a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) that had coupled with a series of depressive episodes. In 2 months, I had lost 11kg and had no appetite, motivation or focus. It was horrendously lonely! I had found myself in a deep pit of despair with bouts of suicidal tendencies that caused a lot of pain for my loved ones and even grieved God. Amidst a vast array of struggles, I found myself broken, unmade and in want. But God, in His mercy and grace, showed Himself in a seemingly hopeless situation.

He gave me a community of believers who gave me support and encouragement to keep fighting on! They were His gift of grace in my moment of weakness. I found myself relying on others much more than I had pride to do so prior to this. If I had never gone through this plight, I would have continued with this hidden pride of self sustenance. I loved being the “selfless” friend who didn’t need help from anyone. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? Pride sneaks in through the back door of our “humility”? It turns our focus upon something more grievous so that it can slither into our hearts, undetected. 1 Corinthians 10:12 rings true when it tells us to “…take heed, lest you fall…” and God had found me, already falling and He decided to abruptly halt my demise. Although that halt was painful, He had shown His kindness in choosing to perform His life-saving and life-giving surgery on my heart. So, with this community, and the help of a counsellor, He got me back on my feet. This is not (thankfully) to enable me into another round of self-sustenance. He knows infinitely better than to put me back in the same lion’s den. Rather, He has enabled me to be reminded, to rely on Him and trust Him, through each day, and through each anxiety trigger.

I am not out of the woods yet. I still struggle with mental health issues. Usually, one would expect these kinds of testimonies to end with a ray of sunshine and rainbows. But I believe that God can provide encouragement for His church from those who are still in the trenches, fighting on. But I reckon that there are glorious rays of light, piercing through the darkness in that I can pray now and I can feel His presence with me, once again. In those anxiety attacks, I can think of Him in more realistic and true ways that I could never do before. In the thick fog of my mind, I am able to know He is good and He is near.

I can honestly say that I am not proud of this season of life. It is hard to tell people that story. This is partly because it is hard for others to empathise, but mostly because it shows myself as a weak man. I had failed to “hold the front” of myself as a strong, independent and self-sufficient man. But God’s grace, couldn’t stand to see me heading down the path to destruction. So, He gave me a great gift of opening my eyes to the fact that the image I held was merely an illusion. A façade that only sought self-glorification! So, I labour on, like Paul in Philippians 3:12, not perfected, but pressing forward. There are many uncertainties of life. There are many things that could go horribly wrong in the next minute! But, all I do know, is that I am lulled by the goodness of God in the seeming absurdness of His peaceful presence in my pain.

So, if I may slot in a final caveat, if you are going through tumultuous times and hardly see the light of God’s love, I pray that you will hold on just a little longer. I also hope that you would cling on to the promises of God through Jesus Christ as 2 Corinthians 1:20 states. His promises are true, and you can trust in them, no matter the situation. So, Christian, if I may encourage you in just 7 words, please remember, He is good, and He is near.

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