Dear FPBC Family,
Shalom! I bring you greetings in the most beautiful name of Jesus. I hope all of you are well. Please be a good citizen, stay at home and abide by the law. Please call out to your leaders and elders if you need any assistance. Please look out for each other during this time.
This is the 4th pastoral letter to you since the outbreak of COVID-19. I intended this to be a letter and not a devotional bible study. I want this to be personal.
The COVID-19 had wrecked so much havoc to the world. Even God’s people are not spared. Today is the second day of the movement control order being enforced in Malaysia. Schools are closed. Malls are closed. Worship places are closed. Businesses are closed. People who can work from home will work from home.
The economy will be affected. KLSE had plunged below 1,300 points. All kinds of businesses will be affected. People are staying at home and not spending money. This will hurt the economy. It becomes very difficult for businesses. The nation will experience hardship. No one will be spared. But, the poor and marginalized people will be most affected. Let’s do our best to reach out to them.
Some of us may ask, why is this happening? Why does God allow this virus to wrecked havoc in our lives? Why do we have to go through difficult times like these? The Word of God says, “GIVE THANKS in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. Give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES says the Word. Does it apply to the circumstance we are in right now? Yes, it does. Give thanks? That’s correct.
I likened our situation now to an experience of a storm. Before and during the storm, all we see is dark clouds and rain. The situation is gloomy. There is no joy. But after the thunderstorm, we will see a clear blue sky and the lovely sunshine. This will certainly come. The storm will go away very soon. The clear blue sky, the sunshine, and the chirping birds will come out.
Even though the storm may not be over yet, I already see good coming out of it. Personally, I have learned valuable lessons. I think I would not have been able to if the virus did not come.
The Prophet Isaiah spoke about “The bread of adversity and water of affliction” in Isaiah 30:20. He said, “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them”.
Water and bread represent the essentials for the sustenance of our lives. We eat “bread” and drink water to live. It is our daily routine. What is the bread of adversity and water of affliction? It is a metaphor for hardship in life. It is the experience of God weaving hardships into the routine of our life. This is like the experience we have right now with the virus. It came into our daily routine uninvited and it brings us hardship.
As certain as the sun will rise in the morning, hardship will come into our lives. However, God promised that when we eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction, the Teacher is not hidden. Your eyes will see your Teacher. It simply means we will learn valuable lessons from hardship.
In the span of two weeks, the virus had taught me more about pastoral leadership than what I have learned in my 12 years of being a pastor.
- I learned pastoral responsibility. In times like these, more than I ever realized that I needed to rise up to “feed the sheep”, those whom God had placed under my care.
- I began to write pastoral letters. As I do this, I gained insights into why Paul needed to write pastoral letters to the churches and to his sons to give instructions in difficult times.
- I learned about myself. I realized my shortcomings and my regrets for not being a better pastor before this.
- I learned to be grateful to the church for the many years they had to put up with an inexperienced and immature pastor.
Hopefully, when the storm is over, we will see a clearer blue sky in FPBC, and the birds will come out singing again. It’s like what we had seen in the movie, The Frozen 2.
God spoke to me late last year that FPBC will enter into a decade of accelerated growth. I didn’t know how He would do it. I never expected that God would bring a virus. God is certainly creative. He had a zillion ways of doing things. No one can outsmart God. The virus had certainly accelerated our growth. God is brilliant. I am in awe of Him. God is my Hero.