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COVID-19 How to live in uncertain times (30 - Spring)

Jema Chan, 20th April 2020

See part 1 of this series here.

In April, my garden has already burst into colourful life ..... the blazing red Japanese Acer, the elegant white Magnolia, the golden yellow Forsythia, the cute purple pom pom flowers, the dainty pink apple blossom, the heart-warming red azalea ..... all relentlessly competing with one another. The cold and wet winter months have been defiantly endured. The whole place is now overflowing with a sensation of blissfulness and hope, with huge amount of activities still silently going on but not visible to the human eye. Whilst normal life, be it social, commercial or industrial, is put on hold during the coronavirus lockdown, the nature cannot be put on hold as the glory of God continues to be splendidly displayed through it.

Japenese Acer tree

In my recent daily devotions which mostly take place in the conservatory where I can overlook to the garden and feel being amidst the beauty of nature, I have been reading Joseph's eventful life, which is one of the best known stories in the Old Testament Bible. This time, however, I was deeply touched and even moved to tears.

Tree with white flowers

Joseph was his father's favourite son, but this invited jealousy and hatred from his older brothers who even conspired to kill him by abandoning him in a pit. Opportunely, he was sold to a rich Egyptian who, when found out that he was a very capable man, put him in charge of his household. However, prosperity did not stay with him for too long before he was thrown into prison after his master's wife had viciously accused him of making sport of her as an act of revenge for his refusal to have an immoral relationship with her. In his imprisonment, Joseph gained the prison warden's favour and was put in charge of all those held in the prison. He helped Pharaoh's cupbearer by interpreting his dream and in return asked the cupbearer for a favour, to mention him to Pharaoh when he was released from prison with a view to getting him out of the captivity too. However, the cupbearer totally forgot him until two years later when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dreams. Joseph then became Pharaoh's second-in-command, and the story went on .....

Tree with yellow flowers
Joseph's life was like a roller coaster, interwoven with hurts, betrayal, agony, frustrations, intimidation and disappointments. What strikes me is, Joseph never got dragged down by what life had thrown at him. He must have felt deeply hurt and heart-broken by his brothers' jealousy, betrayal and mercilessness; intimidated and agonised by becoming a slave in a foreign land; frustrated and angry when his determination not to sin brought him imprisonment; and also disappointed when his kindness was returned with negligence and ungratefulness. He could have become very depressed, withdrawn, bitter or revengeful. However, throughout the scripture, he gave an impression that he was still calm, gentle, kind-hearted, diligent and faithful in carrying out his duties. Most prominently, he showed his humility, reverent submission to God's will and unshakable faith in Him. Instead of moaning and feeling lost in his own sufferings, he bore witness of God's greatness and wisdom to those with whom he interacted. The statement "the Lord was with Joseph" is repeated several times in the passage, which reflects where Joseph got his strength from. He lived a God-dependent life.

White and purple flowers

When I look back on my life, half spent in Hong Kong and the other half in England, I certainly have experienced fear, disappointments, uncertainty, betrayal, agony, frustrations, intimidation and hurts before. Whilst I cannot claim that I have Joseph's wisdom, integrity and unshakable faith in God, because if I did, I would be telling the greatest lie or the silliest joke; what I can testify is that I have the same faithful and loving Father God as Joseph's, who has sustained me and made me stronger through adversities and even hurts, during which my limitations and shortcomings have also unfolded. Only when I see my own weakness and wickedness do I realise my need to cry out to God for His help and forgiveness. He permits things to happen because they have a divine purpose.

Red flower

I still remember one of my very first prayers that I said after landing in England almost 30 years ago - "Lord, I don't know what will lie before me in this foreign land, come what may but help me still love you fervently and serve people compassionately, please do not allow my heart to go cold or hard, help me blossom wherever you plant me...." Of course, the same prayer is also meant for now and as long as I shall live. You know what, I also pray for my plants in the garden, that they will blossom :)

Vine with small red flowers

Paul's words are so inspiring.....

.....for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

.....we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

During these strange and testing times, we hope to post encouragement for you here each day. As ever, if you would like to speak with a Minister, please get in touch through our contact us page.