A-Family-Crisis-That-Redeemed-Me

A Family Crisis that Redeemed Me

Photo taken by Becky Roberts
Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore

Three years ago, I was involved in a family dispute. My willful, unforgiving, and prideful character deeply hurt my family and it reached a stage that I eventually left home.

During the worst of the crisis, I often asked “Why me?” or “Why is life so unfair?” When I did not get any answers and finally realized the problem was too big for me to solve, God did the most wonderful thing in my life. He humbled me and began a period of sanctification in my life. He taught me many truths, showed me that He was working in the situation, and redeemed me through this crisis.

 

Rely on the Bible

Living on my own was very lonely. I missed the good times when I would return after work to a spacious home filled with people who loved me. After I moved out, I was confined to a small room with only my own company. My landlord was very kind and allowed me to use his living room as my own, but it still did not feel like home, and so I confined myself to my room most of the time. I sometimes even worked late to avoid the loneliness. Outside office hours, I had a lot of time for reflection. I shed many tears on my own, and those weak moments ultimately drove me to God.

In those desperate times, I ransacked the Bible and found many of God’s promises. I memorized many verses that comforted me, and I treasured them. God’s word kept me from sinking.

Through reading God’s word, I learned to process my emotions in a healthy biblical manner. Becoming familiar with God’s word helped me resist the temptation to hurt myself and others when overwhelmed by emotion (Psalm 119:11). By hiding His word in my heart, I was not destroyed by negative thoughts.

Though I was bitter against the people who in one way or another triggered the crisis, God’s truth set me free from my hatred. God assured me that all things happen for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I was chosen. I was set apart. I felt God’s love and assurance.

As I read the word of God, I began to shape my thoughts according to God’s truth. I slowly learned to exercise faith and to preach to myself. During the crisis, the Bible that I had once found boring and hard to understand became the book that held my greatest interest.

 

Rely on fellow Christians

Faithful believers reminded me during those dark moments “to cling onto God”. Fellowship with believers was very important during that time, because they reminded me over and over again that I was not alone. They reminded me that God was with me, and that God would work things out.

Church leaders gave me tremendous emotional support and treated me as family. The pastor and his wife reached out to counsel me when they learned about my situation. They gave me the love that I was lacking. They shared in my burden and made me feel better. The pastor’s wife became my spiritual mentor. She taught me to pray about the situation and ministered to me through bible study to deepen my faith. Whenever I went to church, I no longer felt alone.

Members of the small family church I attended showed a lot of care and concern for me. During the Christmas and New Year festive period, I avoided my own relatives since I was not prepared to face their questions as I was still hurting inside. I felt lonely since it was the first time I had to spend festive season on my own. But the Pastor and his family invited me to their home. It was a sweet and memorable gesture. The support I received grew my faith and showed me how important the body of Christ was and how faithful believers could aid in my healing.

 

Sing worship songs

Just like how King Saul found relief from David playing the harp (1 Samuel 16:23), I was also lifted up by songs. I especially loved the song “Be Still and Know”, which reminded me to be still, and became a comfort to me during those times. I began to appreciate worship songs, and learned to lift my hands in praise to the Lord even while going through difficult times.

The songs I listened to also taught me to give thanks, and reminded me the importance of thankfulness in all circumstances. Burdens become strangely lighter when we enter God’s sanctuary with thanksgiving in our hearts.

 

Through this crisis, I learned to read the Bible and find comfort in the word of God. I learned that being in fellowship with other faithful believers helped me stay strong in the faith. I learned the importance of worship in all situations.

By the strength of God, I found healing and courage to approach those who had in one way or another caused me hurt. Just like me, they had emotions and needed love and acceptance too. During one of my devotions, God showed me 1 John 4:18 and assured me that perfect love drives out fear, the one who fears is not made perfect in love. Hadn’t God showed me His love in the darkest night? Wasn’t it His love that sustained throughout this time? What did I have to fear? Even if I were to get hurt again, my God would be with me. As I pondered this verse, my fear of getting hurt again seemed irrational. My heart softened and I was finally able to let down my guard to draw near to people who had hurt me in the past to seek reconciliation and show forgiveness.

Today, I no longer feel the hurt that I once felt. I no longer feel that bitterness that once consumed me. Although the house no longer has room for me, I appreciate staying alone for now as it gives me more freedom to seek God’s face. There will come a day when we will stay under the same roof again in God’s perfect timing. For the time being, I have learned to cherish the solitude.

Had it not been for Christ, I believe I would have slipped into depression during the crisis. But what could have led me astray, Christ used for good―that I come to know Him. In Philippians, Paul says that nothing surpasses the worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Please-Dont-Jump,-Theres-Hope

Please don’t jump, there’s hope

Written By Leslie Koh, Singapore

I was just about to leave for work when a policeman knocked on my door. “Sir, do you know of any elderly woman living along this floor?”

Behind him, a single stool stood next to the railing separating the flats on my floor from the ground, 10 floors below. It didn’t belong to my neighbor. Several policemen were stretching a white tape across the narrow common corridor in front of me. It didn’t take much to guess what had happened. In the old days, my housing estate was a popular spot for suicides; in those days, few buildings were this “tall”.

“Actually . . . most of the people here are elderly,” I told the cop. Then my thoughts went to my immediate neighbor. I glanced at her windows, just two feet from me. But to my relief, the policeman peeked through, turned to me, and nodded. “No, she’s in there.”

Then, another thought. A neighbor a few doors down had been rather depressed after suffering a disability. But I spotted his door opening in the distance, as policemen went down the row, knocking on door after door. His thin hands emerged. Another wave of relief.

The policeman then asked me if I minded looking at a picture of her face, to see if I recognized her. I didn’t.

The woman had probably come from another block in the estate, and likely planned this in advance. She had brought her own stool, and had chosen to jump from the quietest stretch of corridor; the other part faced another block, and she would have been spotted. My block was also one of the quietest ones in the neighborhood.

There was little else I could do. I walked out of my home, glancing over the railing along the way to take in the sight of a pitiful covered bundle lying on a concrete parapet, 10 floors below.

I nodded to the policeman, ducked under the crime-scene tape, and took a lift to the ground. As I walked out of the estate, I was engulfed by a wave of sadness. I didn’t know the woman, but my heart went out to her. In an ageing estate populated mostly by elderly folk, it wasn’t difficult to guess why she had dragged a stool to my block of flats, taken the lift to the highest floor, climbed onto it, and hurled herself over the railing.

Perhaps she didn’t have a family. Perhaps she wasn’t close to them or felt abandoned. Perhaps she was told about an incurable disease. Perhaps she felt that she had nothing left to live for. No love, no purpose . . . only loneliness and the certain prospect of years of emptiness stretching ahead. Nothing but hopelessness.

Nothing left to live for. No hope.

Death would have seemed to be the only escape, the only relief.

If only my wife or I had happened to come out the door when she was there. We could have stopped her. If only we—or someone—had a chance to tell her: Please, don’t jump. There’s hope.

Hope. Sometimes, it’s the only reason to go on living. When you’ve lost everything, and there’s nothing left to look forward to. When nothing is going right, and things don’t look as if they’re ever going to get any better.

What stops us from taking the only way out? What stops us from going to the highest building, from taking a handful of sleeping pills?

Hope. Hope that somehow, somewhere, things may eventually get better. Hope that amid the loneliness, there’s someone out there who still cares for us and who will tell us, “Hey, you mean a lot to me. Don’t go, I need you.” Hope that in the desperation of our current situation, someone will come along to stretch out a helping hand, give us a comforting hug, and say, “Don’t worry, I’m here with you. I’ll walk with you.”

Only one person can give us this hope. Only one person can promise us that he’ll be there with us, every step of the way. Only one person can keep up that promise, because he will never be too busy to listen to us. Only one person will never fail us. Only one person could say to us with utmost confidence, “Don’t worry, I’m in control. I know your situation, and I know what to do. I know what you need.”

That person is Jesus. Having once lived as a man, He knows exactly how we feel. Our depression. Our loneliness. Our hopelessness. As the Son of God, He has the ultimate power to handle our situation. He knows what comfort and encouragement we need, and He will be able to give it to us. Some of us will still have to live through our challenging circumstances, but we’ll have the complete assurance that He’s walking alongside us—every day, every hour, every minute. And, the most important of all, we’ll be able to go on in life with this knowledge: Jesus loves me. I matter to him. I mean the world to him—so much so that He died to save my soul. He has a purpose for me. He placed me here for a reason. He wants me to live for him.

When there’s absolutely nothing left to live for, when we’ve lost everything, we still have one thing. Jesus gives us hope. Hope to live. Hope to believe.

If you’re feeling hopeless, if you’ve given up on life, if you’ve taken a stool and are heading for the top floor of a block near you, stop. Please stop. There’s someone out there who loves you. Jesus loves you.

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The Day My Heart Stopped

Written By Michelle Lai, Singapore

In the second half of 2015, I was appointed cell group leader in my university’s Christian Fellowship (CF). It was my first time serving as cell group leader, so I took on the role excitedly.

Shortly into my new role, however, I developed a crush on one of my cell group members; he was also a leader serving in the CF as well as in church.

It started off innocently, with me seeking his advice on cell group matters and spending time with him to learn how to plan Bible studies. It was my first time doing many things and I really appreciated his help.

But as the days went by, thoughts of him would creep into my mind as I planned cell group meetings. I realized it was distracting me from serving other group members. That’s when I knew I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I spending a disproportionate amount of time with him at the expense of other members? Had I become too engrossed in looking out for and listening to him during meetings? Was I giving him priority over other members, like shifting our outings to another day just because he couldn’t make it?

I have heard of cell group leaders dating their members, but I knew that in my case, it was not the right time for me to consider a relationship as I was also balancing other commitments like work and school.

As I became more aware of my struggle, I became increasingly moody. What do cell group leaders do when they have a crush on their members? I decided to confide in one of my friends about this struggle. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding, we fell out when I felt that she was questioning my motive for serving and for doing things the way I did as a leader. It made me furious and upset.

For days, I wrestled with these emotions—till it reached a point when I felt numb. It was as if a plug was pulled from my heart; I felt emptiness. And as my heart “stopped”, my mind took over. Without the heart, the mind is a cold thing. I could do the things I needed to do, but I found that I had dark thoughts. I formed negative thoughts about others. I became calculative. Even though I continued to attend CF sessions and do my quiet time, I felt far from God.

But the deliberate and conscious decision to keep reading God’s Word, worshiping Him, and immersing myself in His community had an effect on me. During a CF worship event one day, the worship leader sang the song, “Divine Exchange” by Lara Martin. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt convicted in my heart and mind to leave all my burdens at the foot of the cross. I let go of all the tiredness and numbness I had been feeling, and at that moment, I was able to enjoy the presence of God. A sense of relief and peace entered my heart and slowly, my emotions came back.

Over time, I got over my crush on my cell group member. He stopped being a distraction and I no longer had to struggle between how I felt and what I needed to do at every meeting. I also cleared the air with the friend whom I confided in, and forgave her for hurting my feelings.

Through this episode, I learned the importance of obeying and worshiping God even when He seems to be far away or when I don’t feel like it. Worship and love for God is not merely a feeling—it is a deliberate and conscious choice we need to make on a daily basis. I am glad I learned to lay all my thoughts and feelings at His feet instead of struggling to fix them on my own.

Are-you-questioning-what-you-believe

Are You Questioning What You Believe?

Written By Jonathan Malm, USA

In my 30 years, I’ve never really questioned my faith all that much. I’ve wondered about evolution and about the problem of evil existing in the world. But they’ve just been simple curiosities; they didn’t rock my world.

Lately, however, I’ve found myself questioning what I believe. I wouldn’t call it a crisis of faith, but I have some legitimate questions that have been shaking me up a bit. All of this started in my most recent reading of the Bible. I’m not sure if it was because I’m reading it chronologically or because I’m reading with a more critical eye. But something was different this time.

As I read through the Old Testament, I began questioning the nature of God—He seemed pretty harsh sometimes. And in the Gospels, I noticed some of the stories didn’t seem to line up. How did the disciples report Jesus sweating drops of blood when they were supposedly asleep? And why did John report the story of the woman caught in adultery since it wasn’t in some of the earlier manuscripts?

Am I worried that I’m questioning what I believe? Not really. You see, I’m convinced questions and even crises of faith aren’t a bad thing. I believe each crisis and question is an opportunity for God to show us something unique about Him. It could be one small facet of His character that we have not seen before because we have not gone through this experience. We just have to navigate our questions with wisdom and skill.

Have you found yourself questioning what you believe? Try following these three steps, which have helped me come out from a crisis of faith—even stronger than before.

 

1. Don’t let emotions dominate.

Most crises of faith are sparked by a tragedy or God doing something that catches us off guard. Those things may spark the questions, but don’t let them dominate your emotions. Don’t let a negative emotion pull you away from your faith.

When tragedy strikes, we’re often quick to ask the question, “Why?” The problem is, there’s usually never a good answer for it. Even if God gave us the answer, it wouldn’t satisfy us because the pain is too great. Our emotions will almost always argue against the logic of a situation. For instance, I know God had great plans for me in spite of that one time when I lost my job. I’ve even seen the positive results. But the sting of rejection is still there, and I still am tempted to ask, “Why?”

Instead, it’s important to proclaim the truth of God. Rely on the fact that we know God is loving; He is good. As much as we can, set the emotions aside and be open to what we have learned and experienced in the past.

 

2. Lean into people. Don’t withdraw.

A natural thing to do when we start questioning our faith is to pull away from the church. Don’t do that. Stay rooted in your community. Take the step to reach out to people and ask your questions. Your pastor and the congregation can lead you to resources and answers to some of your toughest questions. That’s what the community of believers is all about. One part of the body helps the other.

Unfortunately, this sort of approach takes humility. We have to be willing to set aside how “spiritual” we look and tell people where we’re struggling. I’ve seen way too many people who appeared to be rocks in the faith, suddenly fall away from the church because it turned out they had hidden questions that were not dealt with. They were just too ashamed to ask.

Imagine what might have happened if they had let their pride down and leaned into their group of fellow believers.

 

3. Ask God to reveal Himself.

Finally, we have to realize there are some questions even C.S. Lewis can’t answer adequately for us. If our crisis of faith is a chance for us to see a side of God that few get to see, then few will be able to answer our questions. We have to lean on God for that.

I’m convinced that the fullness of God is revealed only in the thousands of different perspectives we see within the church. Just like Moses was only allowed to see a part of God’s glory—not His face—none of us can possibly comprehend the fullness of God on our own. Our questions and crises of faith might be the chance God will use to show us a side of Him few others see. We might just get a glimpse of a lesser-seen aspect of His glory.

 

Ask God to reveal Himself to you. He might not give you all the answers to all your questions. But God has a way of giving you peace in spite of your questions. Give God a chance to defend His name to you.

You don’t have to be afraid of questioning your faith. It holds up to questioning. Just make sure you’re giving God a chance to answer them.

I’ve found that my questions only enrich my faith even more as I lean on God and my history of belief in Him. I still have questions. But just as I can’t explain how my eyes work—the process of color and depth and response—I can still choose to see through them. And I have decided to see my life through the lens of faith, even when all the answers aren’t there.