Beloved flock of God in Gethsemane BPC,
At last, I also got a taste of what COVID-19 is like, though certainly not in the worst form that took the lives of millions worldwide! Oh, how great is the mercy of God (cf. Lam. 3:22)!
Many of you have sent Whatsapp messages to my wife and me, to encourage us and assure us of your prayers! We are grateful to our elders, preachers, deacons, members and friends, and even children who earnestly prayed for us. Your weekly preacher is still weakly. So, I will not attend Sunday’s worship services and other public activities. If I feel strong by God’s grace, and test negative on Tuesday, I hope to see you all during the prayer meeting.
I was not able to update all of you. I took an opportunity on Friday afternoon, as I found a bit of strength in my body to sit up for a while, to type this pastoral letter to inform all of you briefly about my COVID experience and my present condition.
Last Monday (3rd October) afternoon, I felt tired and feverish. So, I left GMC around 4 p.m. for my home. In the night, the fever shot to 38.9°C. I was also feeling severe aches all over my body. The next day, the fever was unrelenting even though I had taken Panadol six hourly. Later in the day, the self-administered ART showed that I was COVID-positive. More symptoms of COVID flared up on that second evening. The second night of sickness was not easy, with severe throat pain, phlegm, high fever, a stiff lower back, fatigue, etc. Drinking water was a painful experience! I visited the doctor in a unique COVID facility in Tampines Polyclinic on Wednesday. The doctor gave me medications to deal with my COVID symptoms. However, because of my long-term diabetic issues, the doctor recommended that I take PAXLOVID, an antiviral drug, to treat COVID-19 in adults at increased risk of progressing to severe COVID-19. But the clinic advised me to return on Thursday to collect the medicine. I am on Paxlovid until Monday.
The most significant work the LORD has done in me during the last week of sickness and trial was to draw me closer to Him on my bed of affliction, to resolve to serve Him more promptly and passionately if He heals and strengthens me again (cf. Isa. 40:31; Psa. 27:14).
As you gather today, I shall join you in spirit to worship our gracious God. God willing, I hope to listen to the live webcast from home. May God bless our preachers (Cornelius Koshy, Kelvin Lim and Ho Kee How), our elders who lead the worship services, and every one of you who worships and serves the LORD with a reverential and joyful spirit. The LORD Himself bless you.
Desiring to come back strong for the service of the LORD,
“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).
In a local congregation of believers, a variety of experiences may be found at a given time. While some people experience severe afflictions, others are presented with reasons for jubilation. It is also true that all alike are subject to afflictions and happiness. Both those types of experiences can be in different persons or in the same individuals at the same time. And sometimes, change from one extreme to the other can happen suddenly.
Extreme circumstances, if they occur to people whom we love earnestly, can affect our thinking. With varying events, our emotions will also rise and fall accordingly. Such divergent experiences in our congregations would make us wonder whom we should attend to and how we should respond to those situations. As a matter of fact, such extreme situations can happen simultaneously or successively in our church or personal lives.
Christians are urged to carry out their corresponding duties in those varying circumstances. Appropriate spiritual responsibilities, which are mentioned in our text, have to be discharged readily. If we readily carry out our biblical duties, we can minister to people in varying circumstances in the most befitting manner.
What should we do when we find others or ourselves in trying circumstances? The apostle James advises us to pray. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” We should pray, asking God for the wisdom we need to understand the situation and manage it to bring glory to His name (cf. James 1:5). We can pray for His grace to endure troubles (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). We can also pray if it is His will, that He will remove the troubles. Through prayer, we not only communicate our needs to God but also commune with Him. One of the major divine purposes of our afflictions is that we may draw closer to Him in prayer.
What should we do when we find others or ourselves in a situation of joy and gladness? James says, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” Psalms are thanksgiving, worshipful songs to the Lord. Singing psalms to the Lord is the most preferred way of praising and worshipping God for all His benefits in our lives. Joyful experiences are given to us so that a worshipful spirit may be built up within us. While afflictions are sent to teach us to pray, happiness is bestowed so that we may learn to praise Him.