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It Doesn’t Stop At Our Votes

Written By Rebecca Lim, Malaysia

On May 10, 2018, Malaysians woke up to a new reality. For the first time in the nation’s 61 years of history, a new coalition—Pakatan Harapan—has assumed the role of the government.

This reality has been years in the making, and for many Malaysians, it probably still feels too good to be true. As one of many Malaysians living in Singapore, the lead up to the elections was a whirlwind of an experience. As soon as the date of the General Election was announced, me and my friends scrambled to book flight and bus tickets home, or help each other find carpool arrangements, so we could all go home and vote.

I myself had planned to leave Singapore right after work, vote early the next morning, and then fly back to Singapore in the evening. It was an insane plan, and I had underestimated how exhausted I would be from all the waiting and traveling, but seeing the proliferation of “purple fingers” and pictures of the voting queues on my social media feeds made my heart swell with pride. It was the greatest display of unity that our country had seen in a long time, and I was glad that I got to be a part of it.

My family and friends kept each other updated as we queued to vote and anxiously waited for the election results to stream in. For the first time, it was unclear which way the votes would swing—and while we were all hopeful that our votes would make a difference, our hopes were also tempered with caution.

As soon as I landed in Singapore, I rushed home so I could follow the results. That night, me and my friends were glued to our television, hand-phone or laptop screens, hearts in our throats, afraid to move, bathe or even eat—just in case we might miss an important moment or result. It wasn’t until 3:00 a.m. that I reluctantly forced myself to go to bed so I would not appear as a zombie at work the next day.

A few hours later, I woke up to a torrent of jubilant messages on WhatsApp and social media about the new era that Malaysia had just entered into. There was much excitement in the air as everyone around me began anticipating the changes that they hoped the new government would put into effect.

It has been a few days now since the government has been installed, and the euphoria of the victory is wearing off. As the government begins focusing its efforts on reforming the country, the question on my mind, and probably on many others’, is: Will it be able to fulfill all its promises?

While I believe and hope that the government will set many new laws and policies in place that will improve the well-being of Malaysians, as a Christian, I am also cautious of placing all my hope in the hands of men. As with any transition in power, the government will take time to put its plans into place, and nobody knows how long this process will take or how extensive these changes will be—but we can be encouraged by the fact that our voices have been heard, and our voices matter.

So, what can we do next as citizens of Malaysia?

If there’s one thing that I’ve realized from this election, it’s that we have the power to change things around us. What filled my heart with hope this election was not the speeches of the candidates or the manifestos of the different coalitions, but witnessing ordinary Malaysians rise up to take charge of their nation’s destiny.

I saw hope in witnessing throngs of both the young and the elderly queuing up to vote so that future generations will have a better Malaysia. I saw hope in the decisions of young people who refused to give in to the voices of defeat around them, but who gave up comfortable and promising careers to dedicate themselves to nation-building by actively participating in politics. I saw hope in the way Malaysians—whether overseas or at home—came together, contributed their time and energy, and used the resources that they have to volunteer as Polling or Counting Agents, book flights to help bring postal votes home, and even organize car pools and donate their own funds to ensure everyone had a chance to decide on the future of the nation. These were the actions that made the world stand up and view Malaysians in a different light. These are the actions that make it clear to me that change has already taken place in Malaysia.

While I may not be in Malaysia at this juncture of my life, I hope to carry that same spirit wherever I go. I’ve learned that we should not solely rely on our elected representatives to do the work of reforming our nations, but there are many opportunities for us to bring hope to those around us as well. I hope that as believers and co-heirs of God’s grace, we will open our eyes to the plight of the fatherless, the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized around us (James 1:27). I hope that we will treat our foreign workers with dignity and care, and help them feel welcomed and at home as they help build our nations (Leviticus 19:34). I hope that we will make our hearts and home a refuge for the lonely and brokenhearted (2 Cor 1:4). I hope that we will have compassion on those who are struggling and lend a listening ear or a helping hand to them if needed.

Whether we’re overseas or at home, let’s pray for a smooth and peaceful transition, and submit ourselves to the governing authorities and their decisions, for as Paul wrote in Romans 13:1, “there is no authority except that which God has established”.  In view of that, let’s also focus our efforts on praying for our government (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let’s pray that as our newly appointed leaders put together their plans in this crucial period, they will do so with the people’s interests at heart. Let’s pray that they will be a government that leads with righteousness and the fear of the Lord. Let’s pray that they will be a government that understands the weight of the mandate that has been given to them, and work faithfully and diligently to carry it out.

Most importantly, even as we pray for our leaders, let us look towards the Hope that “will not lead us to disappointment” (Romans 5:5, NLT) and pray and long for the day when He will return to bring forth justice to all nations and restore all things.

A Quick Summary Of James 4:13-5:20

In James’ concluding words, we are reminded to align our purposes with God’s and be patient in our perseverance and love for others. We’d love to hear what are your key takeaways from this book!

 

What do You Pray About?

Day 29 | Today’s passage: James 5:13-18 | Historical context of James

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

What do you usually pray for or talk to God about?

I guess our prayers could be likened to the conversations we have.
The depth of our conversations reflects the depth of our relationships—what we choose to share and how we do so sheds light on the closeness of each relationship.
For instance, a conversation with a colleague would probably differ greatly from a conversation with a close friend.

Likewise, what and how we pray reflects our inner spiritual condition and how we’re doing in our relationship with God.

James addresses this in this passage as he speaks firstly of how we, as Christians, ought to respond in the different situations of life (vv. 13-15). When we are overwhelmed by the troubles and sorrows of life, we are to pray for wisdom amid the trials (1:2-5)—that we may see trials as an opportunity for great joy and a means to cultivate perseverance as we remember God’s sovereignty through it all. God knows what He is doing, and we can take heart in knowing that He will work out His good purposes even in the most terrible of situations.

When we are happy or in good spirits, we are to sing and praise God as we count our blessings and acknowledge that all good things come from our good Father (v. 13).

When we are sick, we are to call upon the elders of the church to pray over us, trusting that the “prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (v. 15). We could also take the opportunity to examine our hearts for any hidden sins and confess them before God.

But what is a “prayer offered in faith”? How does one pray such a prayer of faith?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. A prayer made in faith is thus one that is made based on God’s promises and with the conviction that God will keep His word and fulfill it in His good timing. When we approach God in this manner, it brings great joy to His heart.

In verses 15-16, James stresses the importance of the confession of sin in prayer. We are to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that healing would take place (v. 16). James goes on to speak of the “righteous man” whose prayer is powerful and effective (v. 17). He is not referring to the self-righteous person who places his confidence in his accomplishments and good deeds; rather, he is referring to the humble person who recognizes God’s saving grace and mercy in his life and places his trust in the work and words of Christ alone.

The prophet Elijah, James says, is one such example to follow (1 Kings 17-18). And before we can protest that Elijah was in a different league, James quickly reminds us that Elijah was “a man just like us” (v. 17). Just like us, he had fears, insecurities, doubts and worries—even till the point where he wearied of life and prayed that God would take his life (1 Kings 19:4).
Yet Elijah knew his God and the Word. He took God’s promises to heart and trusted that God would fulfill His promises in His own perfect timing—which led to his passionate, faith-filled prayers (vv. 17-18)

Where does this leave us?

As we relate with God here on this side of eternity, we can grow in knowing Him and His promises through the reading of His Word. As we get acquainted with God’s promises, this will radically transform the way we pray. We will start praying prayers of faith that are based on the promises He has made to us, and we will be able to do so boldly—asking God to fulfill His promises in His own good and perfect timing.

Let’s start praying prayers of faith!

—Lydia Tan, Singapore

Questions for reflection

1. Take a moment to reflect on the prayers you’ve made recently. Were they prayers of faith . . . or were they more like prayers of desperation?

2. What is one thing you can change about the way you pray?

3. Write down a promise of God that you will include in your prayers today.

Hand-lettering by Rachel Tu


Lydia is an eternal optimist. Nothing seems to ever get her down, except maybe the thought of vegetables or needles. She’s happiest when she’s with people, puppies or preschoolers and appreciates the deep life lessons she learns while observing or interacting with them. She has a weakness for dark chocolates and pretty little trinkets (especially if they’re handmade!) and believes that there is beauty in the ‘impractical’.
A dreamer at heart, she is excited to be a part of God’s dream for the nations and loves tagging along with Him on the many adventures across continents. While not in action, she relishes in the simple slow walks with God in nature too.

Read 30-day James Devotional

A Quick Summary Of James 3:17-4:12

This week, we are reminded to pursue God and not the world. How do you intend to carry out these actions in your life?

(Once again, do note that no devotions will be sent over the weekend.)