Why Such A Bad Start to 2020?

Written By Chia Poh Fang, Singapore

Poh Fang never dreamed of being in a language-related profession; chemistry was her first love. The turning point came when she received Jesus as her Savior as a 15-year-old and expressed to Him that she would like to create books that touch lives. She serves with Our Daily Bread Ministries in the Singapore office as Managing Editor.

I hope your new year is off to a good start.

That’s how I’ve been starting my emails lately—with a sincere wish.

The bad news that we’ve been reading and watching on the media this year have affected people I know on a personal level.

On the very first day of 2020, it rained in Jakarta, Indonesia. The water level rose so quickly that many Indonesians were caught unprepared. One of my friends was separated from her children for a few days, as the kids had a sleepover at their grandparents’ house. Another friend had to fly out to Malaysia for a meeting on 3 January, but couldn’t make it home to pack his luggage due to the flood. He had to purchase new clothes in Malaysia.

Then, we heard the news about the Taal volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Five Tagalog translators from our Philippines’ office stayed near the area. Their homes were covered with ashes. Three of them experienced shortness of breath due to the heavy ashfall, and lived without electricity and water supply for three days.

Meanwhile, the bushfires in Australia raged on. A friend was flying home from Bangkok to Canberra, Australia, and was so near home, only to learn that a fire burning in Canberra had forced the cancellation of most flights at the nearby airports. He was re-routed and had to take a roundabout trip home. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook: “Davao—Manila—Sydney—Canberra . . . waiting . . . I just want to go home!”

And the bad news continues. The latest news that have been dominating the headlines is the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has now claimed more than 427 lives since it first broke out on 31 December 2019.

While I do not personally know anyone who has contracted the virus, I know of three deaths that happened within the first 17 days of this new year. There was my cousin, whose passing leaves his young wife with a permanently empty seat at her reunion table, an elderly gentleman who lost his partner of over 40 years, and a mother whose five-year-old was suddenly snatched away from her by death’s claws.

To say that this year hasn’t gone off to a good start wouldn’t be an overstatement.

Perhaps your life has been disrupted by the recent spate of bad news too, and it stirred up fear, worry, anger, or sadness. If so, can I say this to you?


It’s okay to say that you are not okay.

It’s normal to be angry that death has robbed you of a loved one. You should rightly be upset about the climate change that caused the floods and the fires, or be worried about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

I was saddened by the news of my cousin’s death, and I questioned why a young life was snuffed out so prematurely. I was upset, along with my friends, for the pains they had to go through to reach home because of the fire, or to clean up their house after the flood and volcanic eruption.

We saw Jesus displaying some strong emotions at a funeral too. When He saw Mary, whose brother, Lazarus, had recently died, “weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him” (John 11:33, NLT).

Jesus was angry, but at what? Possibly, He was indignant at sin and its consequences. God did not make a world filled with sickness, suffering, and death. But sin entered the world and marred God’s beautiful plan.



When things are not okay, know that it’s not yet the end.

There are many questions about pain and suffering that I have not been able to find a satisfactory answer to. But whenever I struggle with doubts, I remember that Jesus stepped into our world 2,000 years ago, and showed us what God is like.

His hands touched the leper (Mark 1:41); His eyes rested on the bereaved widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17). He hurts when we hurt. We have a sympathetic Savior who suffers with us. But more than that, Jesus died and rose from the grave. He is the only person who died, lives, and will never die again! He proved that there is life beyond the grave. We have a living hope in Jesus because our Savior lives.

And He has promised that there would come a time when all human pain will be over (Revelation 21:4). While we can’t stop illnesses and sin from ravaging our physical bodies now, as His children, we are destined to receive a new, glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). This is the grand finale of human history that we have the privilege to know beforehand.

Has your year been off to a bad start? Be comforted that this is not the end. God is in the business of restoration and redemption; He is working all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

As 2020 unfolds, we would probably find ourselves thrust into situations where we need to learn to trust Him. Would you join me to fix our eyes on Jesus? Because of the hope we have in Him, we can be assured that everything will be okay.

5 replies
  1. Na
    Na says:

    I struggle personally to explain to unbelievers.
    As a believer myself, I know the answer that never changes and is the truth, that is; God is working all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I can’t explain to my unbelieving friends because indeed to have a relationship with God, our Creator is to have Faith.
    In these predicament, how do one put on a positive attitude, a joyful mindset and a happy stance?

    • Poh Fang
      Poh Fang says:

      Hi, Na. Thank you for sharing your reflection to this article. I, too, struggle to explain to unbelievers. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say, and often I lack the courage. My constant prayer is based on 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

      And here’s an observation I’ve made. Many of my family and friends don’t want my explanation. Rather, they want to see how I struggle through life issues and yet cling on to hope. Perhaps, this is how they would see that Christianity is more than a religion; it is a relationship with a real God who walks with us.

    • Benjamin
      Benjamin says:

      I don’t think you necessarily need a happy stance/positive attitude etc. Jesus openly wept as the article points out.

      Sometimes, your actions move hearts much more than your words or explanations. I’m more intellectual than emotional, so this is especially hard for me.

      I think for myself was to firstly realise there is no need to “correct” them out of their state. There is a time and season for all things, and the Bible documents plenty of such instances and how men and women of faith have responded in each.

      Secondly is to have a heart for such individuals knowing that they are infinitely precious in God’s eyes, and they have just lost someone infinitely precious to them (also infinitely precious to God). Even if all things work out for good, loss and sin is never pleasant.

      Lastly, because I don’t have a natural gift in this area, I pray that God will dwell in me all the more so that I may live out and be an emissary of his Grace and Love to such individuals.

      Its not easy and I’m still learning!

  2. Nia Mayfani
    Nia Mayfani says:

    My 3mo daughter has just passed away 5 days ago..she was healthy n cheerful, I just left her for 2hr before I found her not breathing in our bedroom
    When I ask God why me? Why my daughter?
    He simply answered Why Not?


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *