Pastor’s note: Many among us remember Bro. Jumar Balicao from the Philippines, who worshipped with us while he was working in Singapore. (His brother Juffrey, together with his wife Nydel, are active members of our church). Jumar and his wife, Olive, have been joining our GYAF online meetings and other online activities regularly. They had earlier shared with great joy that Olive was expecting their first child. However, last Thursday, Sis Olive experienced an emergency medical situation, and their “6-month” baby girl (Ann Lois) was born prematurely on the way to hospital. Though the baby was taken to another hospital for neonatal care and kept in an incubator, it pleased the Lord to call the baby home on Saturday morning. The burial of Anna Lois Balicao was held on Monday by Pr Donald dela Cruz, our missionary in Pangasinan, the Philippines.
Like Jumar and Olive, some others among us also have gone through similar grief of losing their babies prematurely because of failed pregnancies. Experiencing a miscarriage is very hurting for the parents, and one of the hardest things in the world to handle. May the following email I received from Jumar and Olive help those of us who might face such grief, to know that the LORD will comfort and strengthen you too.
Dear Pastor Koshy,
Greetings in the Name of our Lord!
Matthew 5:4 tells us, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
The grief we felt was hurting us deeply for the past few days. We put the body of baby Anna Lois in the grave last Monday, with great comfort in knowing that Anna is in heaven enjoying God's presence.
It has been really hard, but our loving God wants us to go to Him to find rest and comfort in Him. Indeed, I have drawn my strength in God as I continue to lead and comfort my wife during these hard and trying times. In such a sorrowful event like this, we witnessed the importance of how our amazing God has designed the God-given roles of each member of the family, especially the role of a godly father as the leader / head of the family.
We continually praise God as we reminisce now His goodness, providence, and mercy unto us. He never lacks in providing us, no matter how small or big it may be. The fellowship of the saints gave us much comfort, even if we are all physically apart. Those brothers and sisters who included us in their prayers, and even those who recorded their sweet singing of hymns, comforted our souls. We thank the Lord for blessing us with godly brethren in the midst of this trying time. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Thank you, Pastor, for your comforting words, as well as always keeping us in your prayers. We are now both rejoicing in the Lord as Job did, when he said, "the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21b).
We thank God also for the comforting words of the Lord from 365 Daily Exhortations from God's Word, which came in very timely: "Believers’ afflictions are not indicative of the lack of God’s ‘goodness and mercy’. God may have allowed those dark experiences to serve as a means of chastisement or purification process in believers’ lives. At the same time, He will sustain them with His ‘goodness and mercy’, and help them to emerge from their trials with greater confidence in God" (cf. Psalm 23:6a).
Praise be unto God.
Love in Christ,
Jumar and Olive
“Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:17).
This is a portion of Paul’s prayer for the believers in Thessalonica who were in the midst of persecution and trials. Paul’s prayer, which began in the previous verse, reads: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). God can give His people comfort amidst the greatest tribulation. As long as we have God to stand by us and the blessed hope of eternal life that His grace bestows in our hearts, all troubles will be counterbalanced. Our God is the “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Since God is the source of all comfort, let us go to Him in prayer for it. Let us not expect men to provide it, though God may use His children to bring His comfort to us. If, by God’s grace, they be instrumental in God’s hands to comfort us, let us gladly accept it. However, we must ask God to send His comfort into our hearts.
It is important that we do not allow our troubled hearts to slip further into depression by thinking that there is no comfort for us. We must encourage our weary and sad hearts to hope in the Lord for our comfort. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (Psalms 42:5, 11; 43:5).
The apostle also prayed for the Lord to “stablish” suffering believers “in every good word and work”. The word “stablish” means make firm and steadfast. When God by His grace comforts our hearts, He will also strengthen us in “good word and work”. The expression “good word” refers to the truths of God’s Word, while the phrase “good... work” relates to the performance of all His good will concerning us in His service.
Trials often compel the hearts of believers to question and distrust the truths of God’s Word, and even to refrain from serving and praising God. However, those who wait upon the Lord for their consolation shall receive His aid to grow in faith and in understanding of His Word, and thereby offer themselves in greater service to the Lord. We may find ourselves being shaken by our trials, but let us seek His strengthening grace in prayer. As Paul assured the believers later in 2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”