Posted by May Ng • Jan 25, 2022
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
I have been very prone to fear and worry most of my life. It is not that I want to, but fear and worry seems to be a natural response from me towards many things, and it goes back to when I was a child. Fear of not doing well in exams, fear of disappointing my parents, fear of getting scolded by teachers, fear of not measuring up, fear of saying the wrong things, fear of being yelled at by bosses, fear of riding a horse, fear of losing loved ones, fear of ill-health, fear of being childless, etc. The pandemic only added to the list of my fears and worries – fear of loved ones contracting the virus and I will never get to see them again, fear of doom and gloom as the virus mutates and ravages across the land, fear of loss of comfort and livelihood, etc. I will not disagree if this fear ‘habit’ was alluded to my mother’s (erroneous) influence, much to the chagrin of my father. Being a child of God now, I ought to know better.
This weekend’s sermon reverberated deafeningly in me.
As the pandemic wore on, I began to settle into my comfort zone with the Lord – I realised that fearing is pointless – God remains in control. God has, on many occasions, showed Himself strong to me, assuring me that He is always there for me. We need only do our part to comply with the SOPs, and with the MCOs being enforced, I was assured that my loved ones are safe in the confines of their homes. I was contented and at peace, and trusted the Lord to work things out in His time.
During the period when the daily Covid-19 cases in Malaysia were incessantly above the 20,000 mark, my dear mother was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Just when I thought I was able to live in peace in the midst of the pandemic, I was dealt with this blow. My mother later confessed that she discovered the lumps many months before, but owing to her fear of Covid, she dared not step out of the house to go for a check-up. Due to certain underlying conditions, my mother was also very wary – to the point of being fearful of the side effects – of taking the vaccine.
As it stood at that time, there were already so many uncertainties due to Covid – news of adverse events following immunisation, vaccines’ efficacy against the Delta variant, etc. My mother is already in her 70s; doctors want her to be vaccinated prior to the surgery. What if she reacts adversely to the vaccine? What if the vaccine results in complications to her underlying conditions? If she goes for the surgery without being vaccinated, what are her chances of contracting Covid and getting severe disease? During the waiting period between the vaccine doses, what if the cancer spreads? Frequent visits to the hospital may increase the risk of being exposed to and contracting Covid! Being diagnosed with a dreaded disease is horrible enough, but in the midst of a pandemic too? I cannot even muster the thought of post-surgery follow-ups and treatments.
I felt like I was drowning in a whirlpool of doubt, despair and discouragement, being rapidly swirled by currents which I have no control over, sinking in relentless fear and uncertainty. I felt my faith being smaller than even a mustard seed.
I needed direction, and an unshakeable foundation from which all decisions needed to be made.
I sought God in prayers. Everyday, I would spend hours seeking His face, on my knees and in His Word. I don’t even know where to start; but I know He knows exactly what needs to be done. In a very short time, I felt God’s light and assurance. The situation has yet to change, but God’s soothing balm enveloped me, swaddling me with His love. My faith in Jesus and His finished work started to soar. Confidence and joy in the Lord overcame me, and this strengthened and empowered me to encourage my mother to dive into His Word as well. Being in God’s community also helped build my faith – my cell rallied around me and fervently prayed for me and my mother. My mother, who is not an ardent reader herself, shared that she feels edified after reading the Word each time. Without needing me to cajole her, she herself would read and re-read His Word. My mother also became less fearful – from dreading every doctor’s visit, we now walk in the freedom of knowing that God uses doctors to heal, and we leave the doctor’s appointment with a spring in our step each time.
Despite the many demands of tests and check-ups, I praise God for opening doors and straightening our paths every step along the way. I could only see the step right in front of me, but I committed the entire journey to the One Who has gone ahead of me and my mother. God sees and knows my journey, and can be found even in the most mundane of tasks! I was opening a delivery package one day from a sister-in-Christ, and lamenting to God at the same time. This sister does not know what I was going through then, and she included the following scripture in the delivery: Psalm 50:15 and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me. This was an instant, assuring answer from God. (Thank you, sister Emily, for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit!)
God is faithful. The vaccination procedure for my mother was a smooth and pleasant one, and she did not suffer any side effects (not even a sore arm!). The duration of the surgery was much shorter than expected too – there was no complication. Best of all, the cancer was at an early stage, localised and did not spread! This is in spite of the delays in seeking medical attention. We learnt later that my mother was afflicted with two different types of cancers simultaneously, one of which was of an aggressive nature. But, God protected my mother all this while! God is true to His promises! This experience has given me a fresh revelation and a deeper knowledge of what God means when He says that His Word is active and living and sharper than any double-edged sword!
God is indeed good all the time. This not only comes with the benefit of hindsight; the Bible does give us the foresight of knowing that God is with us, and with His presence comes hope, help, comfort, protection and assurance. God spoke to me through Isaiah 43:2 while I was waiting for my mother’s biopsy procedure prior to the diagnosis – God was actually preparing me, and with it came His incomparably glorious promises! We will seek Him and find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts, and God promises that He will be found by us! Isaiah 43:2 is one of my life’s anchor verses now. I have also learnt that true hope is not found in circumstances; true hope rests in having faith in the Rock of my salvation, Jesus. I am reminded of the man in Matthew 7:24-25 who built his house on the rock.
I did wonder initially, why my mother, at this age? But the answer came in the form of another question – will I know Jesus as my mother’s Healer, if she is not in need of healing? Thus, as I know Him more, I trust Him more. The faith that overcomes fear is faith in Christ alone. I can trust Him wholeheartedly when I know Him.
Do I still fear as much? I would be lying if I said no. But, I believe the answer is to have the reverential fear of God and God alone. God honours our faith in Him, and He will see us through.