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Has God Abandoned Me?

Written By Lee HE, Singapore

Have you ever felt God was withholding everything good from you? Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I definitely have.

Although I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, I went to a mission school and always believed in the existence of God. I was used to people telling me that God will always be there for me. But I didn’t feel that way in recent years.

I had entered into one of the worst junior colleges (JC) in Singapore. I fell out with my classmates because of some miscommunication. My then-boyfriend also left me. My life was falling apart.

I felt so abandoned by God. I was suicidal, and would lock myself in my bedroom every day thinking of ways to kill myself. I wanted to jump out of my window or overdose on pills but I didn’t have the courage to end my life.

I knew I needed time to “fix” myself. So, despite objections from my family members, I took matters into my own hands and dropped out of school to take a gap year.

It didn’t help that I was going to be baptized in a few weeks. Given my emotional and psychological state, I did not want to go ahead initially. But I decided to bite the bullet. After all, I was already in the last few sessions of Baptism Preparation class and I didn’t want to redo the class in the future.

Although my decision to be baptized was not motivated by the sincere intention to declare myself as a born-again Christian, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As part of the baptism process, I had to appoint my own godparents who would be in-charge of my spiritual well-being. Not only did I gain a new spiritual family, my godparents helped me to grow as a Christian.

During my gap year, I took up a stint as an admin assistant in the same company as my godfather. Whenever I got to work with him directly or when we went out for lunch, he would always share with me Bible stories and explain the meaning behind them.

One of the ladies at work whom I was close to was also a Christian. She repeatedly reassured me that if God wanted to open doors for me, He would. Hearing that from her convicted me of the reality of God and brought me to tears.

That was when my heart started to soften. I started to understand that God hadn’t forsaken me like I had initially thought. If God didn’t care about me, He wouldn’t have bothered to place these people in my life.

A year later, I reluctantly enrolled into a Chinese Media & Communication Diploma course at a local polytechnic. Although my command of the Chinese language wasn’t too bad, I hated it and really dreaded entering into the course. I really wanted to go to a JC badly since I felt it would increase my chances of qualifying for local universities.

Again, it wasn’t a smooth-sailing for me in polytechnic as I struggled with the language. And because I wasn’t very interested in the language, I didn’t make a lot effort to improve. I also struggled with working with my group members for projects.

Nonetheless, God didn’t give up on me. During one of my deepest and darkest moments, God revealed Exodus 14:14 to me, which said: “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” I learned that I did not have to be anxious or discouraged when the situation seemed hopeless because God had my interests at heart.

And God started to open doors and opportunities in my life. The first was helping me figure out what my passion was, through a particularly inspiring journalism lecturer. As she shared her stories, I realized I wanted to be like her. I dreamed of being a war correspondent, to cover the lives of those affected and give them a voice on the global platform.

The second was giving me a six-month internship at a local English newspaper publication, which I ended up staying for a year. Coming from a Chinese language course, I initially thought my chances were slim so I was literally jumping for joy when I found out I was selected.

God also gave me great friends during my time in polytechnic, especially those from Campus Crusade for Christ. They blessed me immensely, showing me love in many ways—by helping me out with my studies, or lending a listening ear or even just fellowship.

Through my own life experience, I’ve come to understand the saying: “When God closes one door, he opens another.” Despite closing all the doors that I wanted, He led me to walk another path and live another life—a life I never thought I would. Although it seemed as though He had taken away everything I thought I deserved, He actually had given me so much more.

Getting Cancer in My 20s

Written By Abby, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

The most difficult decision I’ve had to make was in late 2014, when I found out I had stage four breast cancer.

It all started when I felt a lump and the doctor recommended that I undergo some pathology tests. At the time, I was not too worried as I thought it was just a routine check. When I went to pick up the report a week later, however, it said otherwise: I had invasive breast cancer.

All of a sudden, I was confronted with daunting decisions about whether or not to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation—all on my own.

Ever since my father passed away when I was in high school, I had been making decisions by myself. Life was already hard for my mother, who had to raise three children on her own, and I did not want to add to her worries. So I rarely told her my difficulties. Besides, I never really knew how to communicate with my family.

After seeing the report in hospital that day, I went into denial. No way! I told myself. They must have made a mistake. I was not even 29 years old. Overwhelmed by panic, I started crying. I felt at a loss, but I knew that I could not tell my mom.

I decided to go to another hospital to get a second opinion, hoping that they would say that the first report was not true. The next day, I went to a hospital where my friend worked. To my dismay, the diagnosis I received was exactly the same.

My heart sank when the doctor explained to me the treatment process: surgery first, chemotherapy after a week—eight times in total—followed by 30 rounds of radiation therapy. He gently told me to start treatment as soon as possible. I felt like I was falling into a deep hole of despair; I didn’t know where to go and what to do.

The next few days were extremely difficult for me, not just because of my condition, but also because of the burden of the decision facing me. Should I undergo surgery and treatment? I searched the Internet looking for an answer, but could not find one. Eventually, I chose to take the doctor’s advice.

A week after I received the report, I underwent an operation to remove the lump. I went into the surgery room at 8am and was out by 11am. As the anaesthesia hadn’t worn off, I could not move or feel anything for a number of hours. By evening, however, I could use the bathroom with the help of family members, and consume some liquid food. I thought I had fared well; I did not realize that it was only the beginning.

A week after the surgery, I started chemotherapy treatment. On the first day, I lay in bed for over 10 hours. While I did not feel much pain, neither did I feel like eating anything. I felt like throwing up every time I smelled food. Still, I was proud of myself because I thought I was in good shape. A week after my first chemotherapy session, I still had all my hair. So I assumed I was among the lucky 1 percent whose hair were not affected by treatment.

On the 10th day, however, my hair started falling out. Even with the gentlest touch, it would fall out in clumps. Also, my stomach continued to feel queasy, and I could not eat anything. After the first week, I had my first weekly blood test. The report said that my white blood cell count had dropped to just above 1,000 per microliter (mcL)—well below the normal healthy range of 4,500 to 10,000.

The doctor put me on intravenous (IV) therapy immediately, hoping to increase the white blood cell count. But it did not go up. The doctor said my second chemotherapy session might need to be delayed if my white blood cell count did not go up. Thankfully, it went up the day before I was to start my second chemotherapy session.

By that time, I was almost completely bald. The second session hit me hard—I kept vomiting, and had to sit outside the ward to be administered IV therapy because the smell of food in the ward made me want to throw up.

At the time, I didn’t know God. Yet He reached out to me even in my most difficult moments. Sometime after my surgery, my aunt visited me in hospital and asked if I would like to go to church with her. Somehow, her words touched me at that moment and I said yes. In the past, I would never have responded this way—my mother and I used to object vehemently whenever my aunt tried to share the gospel with us. We even told her not to visit our house any more if she continued to talk about God.

So, after being discharged from hospital, I went to church with my aunt. Although I did not fully understand what the pastor was saying, I decided to pray along with him. Truth be told, I did not feel God’s presence then. Nonetheless, I decided to keep going to church to learn about Him. I ended up going to church every Sunday throughout my whole treatment.

I still remember the first time I attended a small group session; the topic of discussion that day was “facing giants”, based on the story of David and Goliath (Samuel 17:1-11). I was touched by the honest and open sharing by fellow brothers and sisters about the “giants” they had faced or were still facing in their lives. Tears started to flow down my face as I listened to their stories. The Holy Spirit convicted me to share my struggles with them, and they prayed for me. I remember distinctly Proverbs 3:25-26, which was shared that night. It said, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”

That was the first time I experienced God’s love.

Over the next eight months, as I continued to undergo treatment and battle the side effects of nausea and fatigue, my relationship with God deepened. I learned about love and how God loves us. I discovered that He is love. And because of His love, I was able to experience the beauty of life. I learned to be grateful for my family, my church brothers and sisters, and for all the blessings from God.

In October 2015, I was baptised. It was the best choice I’ve ever made in life. From that moment, I’ve committed to put God first in my life and live each moment in His presence. By God’s grace, I am now able to experience joy and satisfaction in every small thing He has given me in life. I used to pray that God would heal my body and give me what I want in my life. Now, I pray that God will use me to do His work. I pray that He will help my small church group to grow. And I pray that God will help my friends and family to seek Him.

At the start of this year, I was finally given the good news—by the grace of God, my cancer was in remission.

As I look back now, I thank God for walking with me through the entire treatment period. Because of Him, I can live differently. Because of His love, I’ve begun to understand the purpose of my life. Because of Him, I can lay down all my burdens, be vulnerable, and seek His help. Because of His love, I can enjoy inner peace and joy in spite of my circumstances. Whenever I am worried, I hear Him telling me, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

These days, I feel fine as long as I exercise and have enough rest. Those who do not know me may not even be able to tell that I was once sick. But what is of greater importance to me now is that regardless of how my external self is faring, I know God is healing my inner self every day.

 

When I was Blessed to be Sick

Recently, I was blessed to be down for a few days with a bad flu, sore throat, and fever.

Yes, you read it right. I was blessed and I thank God to have been down for those few days.

Please don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t thankful to be sick so I could escape work. In fact, I’ve been unemployed for nine months now. Being sick meant that I had to miss a reunion dinner which I had been looking forward to, with a group of elderly folks whom my husband and I had befriended six months ago. Due to the viral attack, I also had to be absent from my church’s monthly prayer and praise session, which I really wanted to attend as it was the first one for the year.

During those few days, I felt physically drained, and my muscles, joints, throat, head, and back ached badly, making sleeping an arduous affair. As I couldn’t lie down flat, I could only slouch in my couch, tossing and turning every so often to alleviate the aches. There was so much to complain about and nothing to be thankful for. Or was there?

Because of the headache, I wasn’t in the mood to watch television, nor was I in the frame of mind to read a book. The only thing I could do was close my eyes . . . and spend time with God.

The moment I did that, my mind drifted back to the last time I spent time with God. Sure, I pray daily, worship often, read the Bible, attend church, am active in a ministry, and attend cell group meetings. But when was the last time I really spent time with God? That was a very long time ago.

As I lay on my couch, God eased some of the pain, and I felt a sense of stillness and warmth surround me. It was as if someone was hugging me. I thought about what God had told me some months back—to be a “runner” for Him and bring His wandering sheep back to Him. I was also reminded of my duty as a wife, created to be my husband’s helper. God brought to mind the times when my husband had to complete certain tasks on his own because I had failed to help and support him. Deeply convicted, I repented and asked the Lord to teach me and give me the wisdom to be a godly wife.

It’s been only a few days since I’ve recovered, but I now see the kitchen as my new God-assigned office and my household as my field. Things which I once saw as daily tasks are now God-given tasks to me. In the days ahead, I also plan to meet people God had brought to my mind during my quiet time with Him. My eyes have been opened because I had been sick and had spent time with the Lord.

Now, ‭‭I wake up every day with a new awareness that in order to perform my God-given tasks and bear fruit, I need to abide in the Lord. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‭‬‬‬‬‬). ‬‬‬‬To abide in Him, I need to know Him. And to know Him, I need to spend time with Him. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

I pray that you too will join me in spending time with the Lord.

ODB: Extraordinary Showers

January 8, 2015 

READ: Ezekiel 34:25-31 

There shall be showers of blessing. —Ezekiel 34:26 

What do fish, tadpoles, and spiders have in common? They have all fallen from the sky like rain in various parts of the world. Fish fell on the Australian town of Lajamanu. Tadpoles pelted areas of central Japan on multiple occasions. Spiders showered down on the San Bernardo Mountains in Argentina. Although scientists suspect that the wind plays a part in these intriguing showers, no one can fully explain them.

The prophet Ezekiel described a far more extraordinary downpour—a shower of blessing (Ezek. 34:26). Ezekiel spoke of a time when God would send blessings like rain to refresh His people. The Israelites would be safe from enemy nations. They would have enough food, be liberated from slavery, and be freed from shame (vv.27-29). These gifts would revive Israel’s relationship with God. The people would know that God was with them, and that “they, the house of Israel, [were His] people” (v.30).

God blesses His modern-day followers too (James 1:17). Sometimes blessings abound like rain; sometimes they trickle in one by one. Whether many or few, the good things we receive come with a message from God: I see your needs. You are mine, and I will care for you.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

“There shall be showers of blessing”—
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above. —Whittle

Daily blessings are daily reminders of God.