To Fear or Not to Fear

To fear or not to fear… What are you afraid of? What makes your knee weak with fear? What shakes your composure and keeps you awake at night? Is it fear of sickness? fear of loneliness? fear of loss? fear of death? fear of rejection? fear of financial insecurities? fear of the unknown?

Psalm 112 tells the secret to a life of no fear. Fear the Lord and have no fear. The Christian life is not a pure smooth path of roses. It is not all sunshine. There will be darkness v.4 but even in darkness, light dawns for the upright -for the gracious, compassionate and righteous – these are the characteristics of those who fear the Lord. v. 6 tells us the righteous will never be shaken – they will stood firm and have no fear of BAD NEWS because their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord. v.7 This implies that there is bad news BUT we will have no fear even when things are bad.

Sometimes we are tossed and turned by waves of fears. It is so difficult to be steadfast – to be steady, to be secure and to ‘not be shaken’ and have no fear of the darkness, the bad news of life. What to fear? or rather Who to fear? Fear the Lord – not the kind of being afraid – but the kind of obedience – finding great delight in his commands! Turn your fear of the dark into steadfast unshakeable security by fearing the Lord of light. Even in darkness, light dawns. Even with bad news, there is no fear!

Psalm 112
1 Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.
2 Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

#fearless #FearOfTheLord #wisdom #readthebible

A Dose of Laughter

Once upon a time, months before Covid happened, I watched Leap Year. I laughed and laughed. My youngest turned her head and said: Is it that funny? 🤔

I continued laughing. 🤪 It felt good to laugh. I cannot remember when was the last movie that I had such a hearty laugh. 😃 Rom-com is good for my soul – not horror. I do not get high from being horrified. 😱

In line with my interest to write about depression, I googled and found a medical research on ‘Laughter and Depression… (blah blah blah..) 🤣 Blah blah blah is because it sounds scientific and technical to my amateur ears.. “…Hypothesis of pathogenic and therapeutic correlation!” In my own two-cents worth of laymen’s terms: “Can laughter help improve depression?” or “Are laughter and depression related to each other medically?”

So what’s the verdict? Here’s an excerpt from the abstract of the study: (
it has been demonstrated that laughter is able to improve mood directly and to moderate negative consequences of stressful events on psychological well-being; in addition, it is possible that the stimulation of particular cerebral regions, involved in depression pathogenesis, and the normalisation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical system dysfunctions, both mediated by laughter, can Counteract Efficiently depressive symptoms;
finally, the favourable effects of laughter on social relationships and physical health may have a role in Influencing the Ability of depressed patients to Face the disease.

But this is on the physiological side – the mind and the body. Laughter is just one means to improve depression. What about the soul? Beyond the mental and physical state of feeling good and happy, how does one maintain his ‘spiritual’ health?

The Proverbs teach: A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (17:22) The heart mentioned here is more than just the physical organ pumping blood around the body. The heart is the whole being of man – it is “the ruling centre of the whole person, the spring of all desires.” (

Paul taught the Philippians to rejoice always. But joy is not just a switch that we turn on and off easily. We need to rejoice In the Lord.

I pray that as a follower of Jesus, a child of the heavenly Father who loves me, I will learn to find joy in each circumstance that comes my way everyday.. and always and only in the Lord… by His grace and mercy alone.

New Year’s Eve Musings: Inventory-Taking

So teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

How does God love me? Let me count the ways. What? Concrete and abstract. How? While I can count the concrete, I can only ‘number’ the abstract. To number is to put a value to the things counted.

Time: chronos and kyros. Chronos time equals seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. Kyros is about significant events caught in time.

Today, I live for certain number of chronos time. On my first day, God saved my mom from a life-threatening delivery. More gracious moments between then and now: graduations, first job, wedding day, the day I miscarried Gabriel; birth of my 3 children; mom’s kidney transplant; the day I learned of my cancer; treatments; depression, menopause, mom died, dad dying, marital conflicts, relationship breakdowns, reconciliations, anxiety, healing, ups and downs on this journey called life.

Many things and people in life are worth counting and numbering. But oftentimes, it is the immeasurable that is most precious. How do I measure the amount of air in each breath that I take? Covid tells me how precious that is! When I look up the clear sky, can I count the clouds or the stars reminding me of the Creator?

I also learned that ‘less’ is often more. The less time, the more precious the moment. The less space, the more important the usage. The less resources, the more valuable the efficient management thereof.

Clothes, cars, money can be counted. At any one time especially in such a time as this, I do not need to wear all of the clothes in the closet nor can I eat all the food in the ref, nor do I need to ride in all the cars to go to the place I need or want to be. I only need enough cloth to keep me warm and covered. I only need some food to be full. I only need a space enough to lay my head and body on to sleep. Even when/if I do not have a car, I have two feet to walk.

More than counting, I need to put a ‘number’ to each gift that an infinite Creator bestows on His finite creature like me. The past year, how many times did God forgive me of impatience, complaints, pride, laziness, indulgence, vanity, selfishness? How can I measure God’s mercy? Do I treasure God’s grace? Can I number the love of family, the companionship and encouragement of friends and mentors? I think, remember, share with others God’s gifts, tell of His great love, grace and mercy.

Counting and numbering: not just today but every day – with each breath that I take, let me count, let me remember and number, let me measure and treasure.

A Lighthouse in the Storm

When in the storm, when shipwrecked, when hungry, when in danger, what would you do? What did Paul do? He encouraged other people.

Read Acts 27. Paul was on a boat going to Rome – to be handed over to Caesar – to be tried as a prisoner. They had been sailing for quite sometime already. Then the weather turned bad. Paul warned them that “our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion – the one in charge of Paul and fellow prisoners would not listen and followed the words of the captain and owner of the ship instead.

So they were shipwrecked. All the people in the boat were getting hopeless and hungry. What did Paul do? He encouraged them:

22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

What an encouragement! To encourage others when – even when he needed encouragement himself. Paul could encourage others because he was encouraged by God. His close relationship with God and his firm sense of calling and deep commitment to the gospel compel him to not give up – to embolden others – even as he was strengthened by the God who called him.

When life is not easy, we too can be like Paul. We too have God who calls to us – Do not be afraid. We can emulate Paul and personalise his story into our own situation:

Do not be afraid, Marlene. You must (fill in the blanks with the things that discourage me, things that i must do for which I need courage, trials I must face for which only God’s grace can see me through). Think about what God has graciously done for me in the past.

And think how I am going to encourage others with the encouragement that I get from the Lord. And ponder upon how I am going to comfort others with the comfort that I receive from the Lord.

This my friend is the way of a follower of Jesus – to be an encourager in the storms of life.

The Way of Hope

In an episode from the TV series Amsterdam, there was a story of the depressed American Chinese youth, Amy who stepped off the subway platform onto an oncoming train. It tells us that depression is a silent killer. A pastor once preached that it is the 2nd most deadly disease – next to cancer.

A friend once asked if I have ever thought to take my own life. Honestly, I have never considered suicide as an option to escape from depression, or to stop the pain, grief or sadness. I have thought about disappearing though. What if I don’t come home.. what if I suddenly died – hit by a truck, or killed by someone, or struck by a serious deadly disease? But most of all, I have asked and longed for Jesus to return soon. Not a very noble longing… but hopeful longing so the suffering will end…

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB

This is the Bible verse for today. This is often my means of not ‘escaping’ depression but my way of ‘facing’ depression. In a word, it’s called Hope. That is also the word that Dr. Goodman (from the TV series Amsterdam) replied his colleague-oncologist regarding sickness.

Hope is a big word – not as emphasised as love or faith. But it is one of the three that remains. (1 Cor. 13:13) Hope is the sandwich filling… faith, hope and love.

My faith in the Word of God gives me hope and enables me to love. My hope that suffering will end soon allows me to continue and persevere in my suffering. My hope that one day, Jesus will return and I will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air, this hope sustains me to persist in choosing joy.

Faith and hope seem synonymous. Faith supports hope as hope is the evidence of faith. Because I believe, I have hope. Because I trust God’s promises are true, I rejoice in hope to doing better today, to becoming a better person tomorrow.

Because I believe that hubby loves me, I have hope that he is striving to be a better husband and father. This hope enables me to persist in love.

When our high school batch, Builders ’79 from Hope Christian High School celebrated our 40th anniversary, a classmate proposed that we use faith, hope and love in our theme. So we agreed on: Giving hope by faith in love… We decided that we would raise money to help people with educational and health care needs. We would give hope because we believe that God has been good to us. We want to pay it forward. We trust that God will enable us to reach our goal. We pray that as we hope and trust, we are covered in love – God’s love, our love for God and for our neighbours. Love motivates us to give hope. Faith enables us to give hope. Hope is a good thing.

Now faith is the assurance of things HOPED for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

How are you, my friend? Are you living hopefully? What are you hoping for? There is a Filipino saying: Habang may buhay, may pag-asa. As long as there is life, there is hope.

Where is your hope? On what do you place your hope? On people? On circumstances? On your own capabilities? All these things do not last. Only God’s Word is eternal. His promises are true and trustworthy. Read the Bible and know God – He alone is the source of faith, hope and love. These three remain.

Hope is the means to face depression. Hope in God. God is the sure source of our hope. He is faithful to His Word. His promises never fail. His purpose will never be thwarted.

Isaiah 55

1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Braving Depression

Many things in life take practice. Courage needs practice too. Practice makes perfect.

I gave my book to our Cape Town tour guide. Two weeks after we returned home, she emailed me that she finished my book. Here’s an excerpt of her feedback:

“Another commonality: we both have battled depression. It sounds like you still do. I can’t really say I do any more but have lived with it for 10 years now. I took myself off medication because it left me in dream land and not facing real life. For me, it was one of the best things I did… I now have coping mechanisms. I can recognise when I am “heading downwards” and have various things like walking my dog in the mountains to pull me out or going to do service unto others.

Your book will always live on my shelf and I am sure that I will read it many times. You are a brave woman writing a book like this. Hold your head up high and be proud.”

I have had many responses from my readers. Some said they cried. Others said it’s an easy read – light and short. I can’t remember any other reader telling me that I am “brave to write a book like this.” But I do know what she means.

A professor at the seminary once told my classmates in class: “If you read sister Marlene’s book, you will know her.” My thoughts and feelings were in conflict at that instance. I know and appreciate that she was being supportive of my writing. Yet I also felt a little embarrassed and afraid – a mini-panic perhaps? In that instance, in a crowd of strangers, it felt like I was being bared to my soul.

In life, it is not easy to remain joyful all the time. Obeying the biblical principle to rejoice always is a challenge. I struggle between doing it on my own and sharing my challenge. I tried excusing my ‘sadness’ and charging it to physiological causes. I hovered between being brave and being ‘weak’ – crying in front of my children or close friends.

Where is the line between courage and fear? Where is the boundary between discretion and candor? How can I share my story without hurting those who are part of my story? When do I stay ‘weak’ and ‘brave’ dependent on God and when do I need to be ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ in front of people?

I have learned and am still learning that everyday I need God’s wisdom to choose wisely to live joyfully. Am I being brave or weak to admit that I am depressed? It makes me feel vulnerable. It is like undressing in public. I am embarrassed. I feel guilty. Am I not a Christian? Am I not so blessed with the good life? Why am I depressed? How can I not be glad? Why do I often forget to give thanks in everything? Why am I depressingly whiny?

So what do I do? Do I brave it alone? Do I unburden to God? to friends or family? I realised it’s all of the above. Life is a maze that I need to journey with my a-maze-ing God. He alone gives me wisdom enabling me to choose rightly – to be ‘brave’ and ‘meek’ at the same time… to be strong and weak alike… a paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

Courage is not being unafraid. Courage is not the absence of fear but conquest of fear because of the presence of God. That is the paradox of living life bravely and fearfully. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To live wisely is to fear the Lord and live victoriously brave!

Help me Lord to be brave and meek. Because you are with me, when I am weak then I am strong. Amen.

Burnout But Not Out

Burnt-out, stressed out, depressed, suppressed – hoping to die….

Even the great prophet, Elijah experienced burnt-out and wished to die! Read 1 Kings 19:4. He said “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

Why? What happened? Let’s go back in time.

v. 3 He was afraid and ran for his life. Why?
v. 1-2 Queen Jezebel just assured him that she will kill him like he killed all the prophets. What prophets?

Elijah vs 450 prophets of Baal… Elijah killed all of them. Read all about the dramatic battle: God vs Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. Elijah even outran Ahab in his chariot to Jezreel after this great victory.

What great strength and power! What happened before that? 1 Kings 17 recorded that there was a great drought/famine when Elijah first appeared. So how did God provide for Elijah? Elijah was fed by ravens. Imagine having your meals of bread and meat delivered by ravens! Elijah drank from the brook till it dried up. What next?!

God sent him to a poor widow in Zarepath. So after having fed by ravens, he was fed by a poor widow getting ready to have her last meal with her son and preparing to die! God really works in mysterious ways.

Some thoughts to ponder:
1) Elijah’s story started with famine/drought. Before that, 1 Kings 16 recorded evil kings one after the other until King Ahab – not better but even worse – (1+1) with a bad queen. When times are bad, God provides.

2) Elijah experienced God’s provisions – one day at a time, first by ravens, then by a poor widow. God provides in most unlikely places through most extraordinary means. Not by man’s standard of stability and security.

3) Experiences of God’s provisions/faithfulness help us to be equipped for greater task ahead. Elijah won a great victory against a big crowd of enemies: false prophets with a bad king and an evil queen.

4) Sometimes, it’s when you think you’re at the peak, there’s nowhere to go but down. Elijah – the brave warrior ran for his life at the word of a woman. He had enough – he was beat! He asked God to take his life! 1 Kings 19:1-4

5) What now? Sleep and food. Elijah fell asleep. Then an angel brought him food (2 times). on the strength of the food, Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights into the mountain of God. 1 Kings 19:5-8

6) After physical input, comes the spiritual replenishment. God spoke to Elijah on Mt. Horeb. God asked him ‘What are you doing here?’ Elijah enumerated his accomplishments. (1 Kings 19:10)

There was a great wind, a great earthquake and a fire. But God was not in all three. God came in a gentle whisper. In the gentle whisper, God asked again ‘What are you doing here?’ Again Elijah gave the same answer. v. 14.

God then gave him instructions what to do. He also corrected Elijah that he was not the only prophet left on God’s side. There were 7000 others loyal to God.

Spiritual nourishment comes in the form of subtle, soft whispers of God asking – what are you doing here?

What am I doing? Perhaps I feel burnt-out because I think I am all alone doing the job. Do I hear what God is telling me? What am I listening to? Where do I look for input when I’m out of output? Great wind? Great earthquake? Great fire? Perhaps I should look again or rather listen better!

Lessons from the pit and prison of life…

From the pit to the prison to the palace… that about summed up the life of Joseph! Is that it? Nope… not quite…

He was 17 tending his father’s flock and sent to look on his brothers when he was thrown in the pit then sold to be a slave.

He was sent to prison because he was falsely accused for sexual harrassment.

He regained his freedom at the age of 30 to be the 2nd in command of all of Egypt in the palace of Pharaoh. There was none like him – he had position and power, wisdom and wealth, fame and family.

At that point in time, we see how he felt when he named his sons: Gen 41:51-52 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
He saw God whether he was glad or sad; in both suffering and blessings.

It was said that life begins at 40! Joseph at 39, finally found peace and reconciliation with his brothers. He wept so loud everyone outside the palace heard him. It was such an emotional reunion. How did he feel to finally see the people his own blood, the very ones who sold him into slavery? How could he still hug and kiss them? How could he forgave them for all they’ve done? Because at the end of it all, Joseph sees God’s hand in everything. Joseph said to his brothers:

Genesis 45
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

An abundant life does not consist of roses without thorns, smooth highways without valleys. Even a thorny life is beautiful and deep valleys are not total darkness when see behind the lens of a loving God.

Joseph at 40 saw and lived life as more than just places of pit, prison and palace. He lived his life in the presence of a loving God. He saw God’s hand moving and guiding. He witnessed God’s presence and share this presence with the people around him. He acknowledged God both in the good and the bad.

Where are you now in life? In a deep dark pit? Lonely, afraid, worried? Or perhaps in prison? Enslaved by pursuits of things that bring temporal satisfaction? Or maybe in a palace of the good life? In spite and despite every circumstance or whatever you are going through right now? Are you at peace? Shalom – the ultimate word for well-being.

Shalom is more then just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.

According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.

Jesus fully paid the price for peace – peace with God and peace with man. As Joseph lived a life of peace, let us live shalom because Emmanuel, God is with us… even in such a time as this.

Peace be with you, my friend.

Living in Covid Times

What’s on your mind, Marlene? Facebook asked. “Let the Spirit visit you.” said my professor… his tip on what to write about. More and more, I see the wisdom in his counsel.

The Holy Spirit is my guide to wise living: being, thinking, feeling, speaking, doing. Being a follower of Jesus, what should I do? How I think affects how I act or react. When I am angry, what words come out of my mouth? When I am hurting, how do I deal with the pain? When others are sad, what is my response? All these are options to write about. So what do I want to say?

Covid concerns… numbers are rising. Hospitals are full. Meds, oxygen and life-saving options are running low. Each time I listened to Covid-related stories, I feel sad for those who are sick and whose families are affected. I am frustrated with the situation – hopeless n helpless like we’re getting back to square 1 after a year since the first lockdown… I have also been anxious, even paranoid coz i can never know ‘if’ I have it or not.

BUT most of all, I am thankful… I thank the Lord for the gift of life. Everyday is a new day to experience his grace and mercy. His mercies are new every morning. I choose joy in spite of many challenges living in the pandemic world today. Gratitude and contentment = joyful living. It is not easy. I have been thru depression. It comes and goes but always God sees me through. He used people in my life to help me overcome – from the dark into the light, from down in the pit to stand again in the sun.

Amidst all these emotional struggles, I realize more and more the need for wisdom everyday. How wise of Solomon to ask for wisdom! When God told him to ask for what he wanted, Solomon did not ask for health or wealth, honor or favor with men. He asked for God to show him how to be a good king. So God gave him what he asked for… wisdom plus all the other blessings that came with seeking God’s favor.

Today, in Covid times, let me be wise in making choices. If I go out to do things I ‘think’ I want or need to do, I am risking my health along with those I love or live with. Are these things really urgent? Important? Urgent and important can be 2 different things. If I believe everything I read on the news without checking the facts, I might make wrong choices. What I do or say or write about influence people one way or another.

Lord, you are wise, loving and mighty God. You still hold the world in your righteous right hand. You are able to fulfill your purpose for your glory because you love perfectly. Holy Spirit, teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom to be a faithful follower of Jesus in whose name I pray, Amen.

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

Don’t waste your cancer.

John Piper wrote this on the eve of his cancer surgery to help people coping with cancer – patients or friends/family of patients. He believes that cancer is an opportunity for Christians to glorify God.

I believe it too…. so is every trial and suffering in our lives. Each problem I experience, each grief I bear, every frustration and disappointment in my life is an opportunity for me to experience God. In sorrow, He gives comfort. In despair, He gives hope. With unlovable people, He enables me to love. For each dilemma, He gives wisdom. In trouble, He gives peace.

When God’s children face difficulties, God is glorified not because the problem goes away but because His children overcome by God’s amazing grace. They are joyful in spite of the circumstances. They give thanks in everything. It is easy to be happy when life is rosy. It is not difficult to be grateful when things are going well. But when there is financial trouble, when relationships are broken, when sickness comes knocking, God’s children shine amidst the darkness. They stand firm, they stand strong, they hang on in faith, hope and love.

You might say it is easier said than done. I tell you it is not only difficult, it is impossible without God beside me. I had cancer when I was 47. When i first discovered that I had cancer, my prayer was Lord, if you think that my life on earth has served its purpose, then I am at peace with it. But if there is something I need to do, then show me the way.

From the shy child that I was, I found courage to pray with a stranger at the cancer centre. The young lady had a big tumour on her forehead. I cannot remember what prayer I uttered but I know God’s purpose for my cancer was so I can help other people with the help that I receive from Him. It was during this period that I discover that life goes on inside the cancer centre. People, some with bald head covered or not, sat in their chairs, read the magazines, talk on the phone, watch the TV. They wait for their treatment, to start, to end. They leave and go home. Life goes on outside the cancer centre as well. In each body, weariness, fatigue, pain and suffering continue.

Each time I accompanied my dad to dialysis, when I passed through the corridor of the kidney institute, I saw life goes on in the hallway leading to the dialysis centre. Sick people, poor or well-off, sat on the bench, sitting or sleeping in their wheelchairs. Perhaps they were there very early in the morning? It is already noon. I wonder what they are waiting for? Is it for a chance to be dialysed – for others to cancel their slot, because the poor cannot have a fixed schedule because they were not sure if they would have the resources to be treated? I am reminded of life’s insecurities. I am made aware of blessings which i should not take for granted.

How did I feel when I see my father weak and frail body, hooked up to the machine, blood being sucked out of him, and pumped back into his body for the next 4 to 5 hours? it is a comfort to see him sleeping soundly. It is not easy to be sick myself, I was in the wheelchair after ankle surgery. It is also hard to see a loved one go through sickness. For the 4 months since my mother passed away, each time I went to visit my father, it was a test of courage and perseverance. It is painful to love. To bear the pain in love takes courage.

Everyday I went to visit with a heavy heart. To hear him answer Amen at the end of prayer comforts me. It pained me when he did not. I find it hard to pray: Lord, thank you that mama is in heaven – where there is no pain, no night and no more tear. I pained me to open my eyes and see tears hovering in his eyes.

Why am I writing all these? It is not easy to reminisce the pain and sadness, narrating sad and ‘morbid’ stories of cancer, dialysis, of pain and tears. I write about it because I do not want to waste my cancer. I remember and tell so I do not waste God’s trials and lessons for me. I share so people will know God is good. I share so they will be encouraged.

We all have our ‘cancer’ in life. In today’s Pinoy culture, we say ‘toxic’. What are the toxic moments of your life? Turn the malignant into something benign or even good. Do not waste your cancer.