Waiting in the Shadows

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When Mama passed away, I wrote in her eulogy: There is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die. . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, 4). We comfort those who are mourning, and we rejoice with those who are rejoicing. We laugh and weep together because there is a time for everything, and everything in its time.

God has made everything beautiful in its time—the time to do whatever needs to be done, whatever is fitting.

But God has also set eternity in our hearts—a sense of timelessness. We can never understand what God has done since the beginning of time, nor will we ever imagine what God will do till the end of time. And so even as we live in time, we wait with hope for the end of time. Yet waiting for the fulfillment of this promise is difficult, especially if we do not know how long we have to wait.

Paul encouraged the Romans to be joyful, patient, and faithful. Joy and affliction are paradoxical realities. It is not easy to be joyful in affliction. But when there is hope, joy is possible. Hopeful joy helps me to be patient in suffering. I wait in joyful expectancy that the suffering will end. Days will be better.

This joyful hope sustains my prayer just as much as hopeful joy keeps me praying. When I expect God to do good things for me, I wait patiently with joy, even amidst sufferings. This is not possible by my own strength, but only by persistently keeping in touch with the One who is faithful, who is my source of joy and hope.

I thank God for the lessons I learned through my parents’ sufferings, in sickness, and in death. In the days and weeks that followed my mom’s passing, I kept visiting my father, who was so frail, weak, sad, and sick. Many times I prayed, “Lord, have mercy, take Papa quickly so he will not suffer so much.” But God’s ways are not our ways, and over time, I began to pray, “Lord, have mercy, Thy will be done.”

During Papa’s sickness, my sister and I learned how to help one another, forgive one another, pray more and depend on God more. We each discovered new meanings in Jesus’ prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

I learned that the greater the pain, the more I would learn about humility, patience, courage, trust and dependence on God. I practiced how to be strong, one step at a time, moment by moment, day by day as I sought to depend on God’s grace and call on his mercy.

One day, my sister called me and said: Papa is so different today. How?

“He ate ice cream, asked for water, asked to go to the toilet because he didn’t want to pee in the diaper, and he also asked for bread,” she told me. “He also asked,  How old is your elder sister?, and I said, ‘She is 54 years old.’ And he smiled.”

“He’s asked me that before,” I told her. “Biya, How old are you?

During these times, my sister and I were ‘mababaw ang kaligayahan’ (shallow happiness), because we were easily pleased by the simple pleasures in life.

Because he could not see, each time I visited him, I would say, Pa, I’m Biya.” Happily, he replied:You, Biya?”

We learned to find joy in each one of papa’s talkative or alert moments, to delight in his memories, to record the words he spoke, or, later, the way he opened his mouth to utter words his voice could not sound. We learned to be grateful for his good appetite (for ice cream, soup, and siopao (pork buns) —which we did not give him because we worried he might choke). We learned not to take for granted his toothless smile in unexpected moments, his nod or his furrowed eyebrow to acknowledge our presence when he could not speak. We learned to praise God for sunshine on dialysis days, for kind nurses or hospital staff, for light traffic along the way, for arriving safely at his destination. We even praised God for solid poops.

I paid attention to the way God faithfully provided such good caregivers for my father. I remember with gratitude when a friend who visited me during my sickness ministered to my father when he was in need of a catheter not available in the hospital he’s staying. She helped us source the catheter.

The fire of our father’s suffering—his peg installation, pneumonia, sepsis, bed sores, colon obstruction, stent insertion, and on-going dialysis—enabled our family to experience greater heights of joy together. After watching him endure excruciating pain, we rejoiced when he received relief. Because of our journey through the long dark tunnel of sickness and death, we began to watch hopefully for each momentary glimmer of light. These flashes of light and hope gave us courage to face the road still ahead of us.

In the last few months of Papa’s sickness, whenever Marian and I asked if he was in pain, he always answered in the negative. Only once did he admit to his caregiver that he was in pain. Even so, we always knew it was painful for him – from his facial expressions: when he winced, jerked his arm or hand, or covered where it hurt. His courage and endurance of pain encourage us to be brave.

With the psalmist, we began to delight ourselves in the Lord, trusting him to give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). For the God of yesterday’s pain is with us today and forever, and His grace and mercy will lead us through each step of our journey.

Lord, help me to delight in you. Shape my desires to your desires so that I can receive whatever you give with gratitude, trusting in your love and goodness. Enable me to be joyful, hopeful and faithful even as I wait in the shadows. Amen.

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Groaning in the Shadows

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.                           –Romans 8:22–28

I cry easily. I cry when I watch dramas on TV or in movie houses. I cry when I see people cry. In Tagalog, we call it ‘mababaw ang luha’ (shallow tears that easily overflow).

On the day of my mother’s funeral, I remember crying, “Mama… Mama…” as I stood beside her coffin. I didn’t care that my cries were loud and long, but then I had to stop crying, because it was time for the cremation to begin.

After my mom died, I did not have much time to cry, because I was too anxious for my father, who was ninety-two, was blind on one eye and almost blind on the other. He did not have an appetite. It was a constant struggle of anxiety and stress to feed him.

Because I did not know how to deal with my grief, I had a hard time comforting my father. As I sat by his sick bed, I often did not know how to pray. So I would pray, “Lord, have mercy.” (wishing for God to take him so his suffering would end.)

Although I’m thankful that Mama is now in heaven, where there is no pain, sorrow, or sickness, I could not pray this thought with my father. I thought – how good this was for mom, but how hard it was for dad. Whenever I prayed with him, I felt even more grieved when I opened my eyes and saw tears in my father’s eyes. I thought my prayers had made him cry, and so I prayed silently, “Lord, please take him to eternal rest, to be with Mama, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears.”

I tried talking with him about the past, about details from his younger days. In our talk, I could not speak much of my mom or their times together. I worried these memories would make my father sad. And so I grieved in silence with him, crying silently, grateful that he could not see my tears.

On the last day that I visited Papa at home, I sat in Mama’s favorite chair and cried like a baby. I cried, “Mama… Papa…” over and over again. The nurse was in the next room with Papa, who was asleep. As I stood by his bedside, he spoke his last word to me, “Mama…,” but he could not continue because he was having a hard time breathing. “Mama is resting,” I told him.

After my father died, I stood with my daughter, Hannah, by his body. As the mortician combed his hair and brushed his coat, I touched his cold hands and cried, “Papa… Papa..” I had to hold back my crying because it was time for him to be transferred to the coffin.

At the funeral, as I took one last look at Papa, I cried again, “Papa… Papa…” My whole body shook as tears ran down my face. But then I had to stop crying because it was time to close the coffin.

One morning, as I reviewed the eulogy I had written for Papa, tears flowed again. My husband woke and heard my sniffles. “Are you crying?” he asked. I gave a muffled answer and wiped away the tears.

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I used to think I was ‘mababaw luha’ because I was emotionally weak and full of self-pity. So I learned to be strong and held back my tears.

I remember the times of my deep depression when I could not cry at all. It was horrible. I am reminded that tears are a blessing.

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In the Gospel of John, Scripture says: Jesus wept (John 11:35). Jesus cried in public with Mary. Jesus grieved with Mary for the loss of her brother and his friend, Lazarus. Though Jesus wept in solitude in the garden of Gethsemane, he also wept in the crowd alongside Mary. His last cry on the cross that God, his father had forsaken him is the ultimate example of the greatest grief possible.

When I feel hurt or sad, crying relieves me. Once, after my husband and I had a big argument, I went to see the movie Phantom of the Opera, and after immersing myself in the story and crying through the movie, I went home feeling much better.

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Now I cry often both in joy and in grief. Tears fill my eyes as I remember the past with gratitude—not regrets, but fond memories. Tears clear my eyes so I can live the present with faith. Tears rejuvenate my heart so I can receive the future with hope, trusting that in all things, both good and bad, God is working for my good. He makes us right with him so that in all seasons, we will reflect his glory.

My journey through the darkness reminds me of the paradoxes of God, who gives joy in times of grief and enables me to smile even as he allows me to cry. In the despair of death, he teaches me the hope of new life. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And one day, I shall surely dwell in the house of the Lord forever, where I shall see Papa and Mama again.

Until my last breath, when God will wipe every tear from my eyes, I know my journey with tears will continue. On that day, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

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Lord, help me remember that you have called me to become a mirror of your glory. Help me to glorify you by praising you for all things, even in dark times. Help me to cling to you and to trust in your goodness and love as I seek to live in obedience to your will. Amen.

Desolation and Consolation

Desolation is the state of complete emptiness or destruction; of anguished misery and loneliness. Consolation is comfort received after desolation. Desolation and consolation… life is full of them.

I have experienced in one moment the stress of listening to gripes of bitterness and anger… I became the object of wrath or subject of critical judgment. Then in another unexpected moment, there’s consolation in having a positive response to an intentional act of kindness – no matter how seemingly hopeless or useless this act might be. Consolation comes in the form of timely unexpected call of a friend; prayers for grace of angels God sent to me.

How to traverse between desolation and consolation?

Letting go of the desolation – put it behind me… not to repeat and rehearse the cursing I heard. Not to dwell on the hateful words or hold on to the moments of grief or anger. This is not easy. I want to defend myself – how I was wronged; how I was wrongly accused or judged. I need to make the other person see and hear how hurt I am. The people we love often have the power to hurt us the most.

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Looking towards consolation is putting one foot in front of the other – to step out in hope and faith that things will get better – to offer kindness even if I do not feel like it; even if I might be rejected; no matter how short or fleeting the consolation. To forgive again and again – to give water or food to the one that hurt me… this forgiveness that is more than just plain passive letting go. Jesus calls me to love – to actively do something in spite of the desolation. In doing so, I follow Jesus to the path of consolation – to the place of peace.

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Holding on to consolation moments – depositing them in the power bank from which to withdraw my strength – for me to use as an ammunition till the next desolation comes.

Lord, heal me in my desolation and let your healing presence be my consolation.

Missing my dad

Last night, I attended the 90th birthday party of a friend’s dad. It was good to rejoice with those who rejoice. I am happy for my friend and his family. Longevity with good health is indeed a gift from the Lord.

I was reminded of my father. He would have turned 94 this month. I miss him so. Yesterday I received an email from his goddaughter sharing her memories of my father. I asked her permission to share it with my friends. So here it is:

Dear Marlene,
I’m sorry for the delay in sharing how your dad had touched my life. I thank God for the special opportunity to be one of your dad’s goddaughters. How time flies! I pray that God will allow me to recall memories of my relationship with your father.

You are so privileged to have a wonderful father. Not only does he fear God and honor his God, he was also a warm and sociable person.

When your dad first came to our house, there was no formal introduction from my dad that your father will be my que pe (godfather in Hokkien). During my growing up years, it’s only during Christmas that I can meet him. He was very loyal and consistent each December to visit and give me gifts. My siblings also have their own godparents, but it was only your dad who really showed concern and remembers me every Christmas. I’m really blessed and thankful for his kindness.

When I had my clinic, he was one of those early patients who came to support me by being my patient. He was very consistent in coming for dental check-up twice a year. He was very cooperative every time I advised about his dental health. He also introduced his friends and business and people close to him to come to my clinic for dental check-up.

I remember him to be a kind and thoughtful person. When I reach the so-called marriageable age, he showed concern by asking how I am and if I have found my lifetime partner. He knows the qualifications that I was looking for. When I got married finally, he was always asking about my family. Although, my marriage was short-lived due to sudden death of my husband, he still continued to ask about my welfare.

The things that I admire him for was his simple living, He only wore T-shirt and rubber shoes every day. He did a lot of walking. He also found time to play tennis which kept him fit until his old age. Honestly, my own father did not talk or converse too much with us about life nor share his thoughts. Your dad sort of cover up my dad’s shortcoming. As women, we like to talk and share our emotions. If I could grade your father as a godfather, I would give him 99%.

Since we go to different churches, it was only the last day of the memorial service that i knew about the passing of your dad. I almost was not able to pay my last respect. Thank you Marlene and Marian for sharing your dad’s love with me. I miss him indeed.

My life has been full of challenges ever since young until today. As you know, I’m still taking care of my mother-in-law who will turn 94 this May and my sister with Alzheimer’s. I also have a special son. I don’t want to dwell on my predicament because I am not the one in control. I’m still learning to let go and let God do His will and plan for my life. God’s grace is sufficient. To Him be the glory!

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I was around 3-4 years old in this picture with my parents.

Here are my thoughts about grief and missing my parents:

There is never really an end to missing one’s parents or lost loved ones for that matter. You never know when some incidents or words or pictures will bring your loved ones to mind. Tears well up at unexpected places and time when I remember my dad and mom.

God comforts us in our grief at the most timely moment in the most surprising ways. He sends friends and strangers to accompany me in my grief. I have friends (whom I didn’t know or never met) of my mom and dad who told me how they knew them or how they influenced or made a mark in their lives.
I often feel their presence as I continue to be connected to their friends – my teachers, god parents and adopted uncles and aunts. Last Oct 8, we had a thanksgiving service in memory of my parents. I am thankful and greatly encouraged when these friends came to attend the service without any hesitation. They shared their memories and gifted us with their presence in word and deed.

Although no amount of thinking and missing will bring them physically back to me, I keep their memories alive by remembering the good old times, the lessons I learned from them. Their legacies live on in me as I continue to live the values they exemplified in our home and instilled in me. I share their stories so that man will be blessed and our God be praised.

May you find comfort in your grief journey as well.

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Abiding in the Shadows

 

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What is a shadow? A shadow is a dark area or shape formed by an object when it blocks the light. When light is shining on one side of an object, it casts a shadow on the other side.

As I look back over my journey through the darkness, I am grateful to my Good Shepherd for leading me through the shadows of life, for comforting me in my sorrow, for healing my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds, for teaching me lessons that I would not have learned in the bright light of the sun.

After my mom passed away, my father told me, “Din mama ya gaw.” (Your mother is very capable.) “Ee yah kut lat.” (She was very hardworking.) Each day, he grew more sad and more quiet. As he grew more frail, each visit was a test of my courage and perseverance. Every day I visited with a heavy heart. When he would say, “Amen,” at the end of prayer, I felt comforted. It grieved me to see him grieving and getting weaker.

For two months before he died, Papa had dialysis twice a week. Each time I passed through the corridor of the kidney institute, I was reminded that life goes on in the hallway leading to the dialysis center. Many sick people sat on the bench, sitting or sleeping in their wheelchairs. I wondered if some of them were waiting for a dialysis slot to open, because they could not afford to pay for the procedure on their own. I was reminded of life’s insecurities and the many blessings I have that should not be taken for granted.

During dialysis, they hooked my father’s frail body up to a machine, sucked the blood out of him, and then pumped it back into his body, a procedure that took four to five hours. My heart ached to see Papa so tired and weak. I felt comforted when I could watch him sleep soundly.

During this time, I experienced the pain of love and realized that when we love someone else, we are willing to bear their pain and step into their shoes. At one point, my father was so sick, he was pooping through his mouth. Standing by his bedside, watching helplessly as the nurse gave him something to vomit into and then wiped brownish stuff from his mouth, broke my heart over and over again.

He bravely consented to go through peg insertion and dialysis just so it would not be hard for Marian and me to make decisions. He taught me that courage was not the absence of fear, but a willingness to bear the pain and face the fear, and even invite others into our fear.

When Papa fell at home, trying to go to the toilet on his own because the helper was out, he lay on the floor until the helper came back. The next day, when I visited him, his whole body shook with fear as we coaxed him to go to the toilet. When I learned that he had fallen the day before, I prayed with him, and he said “Amen,” then calmly said he was no longer afraid. I recall similar fear many years ago when I accompanied him home from the hospital after his prostate surgery. His hand was shaking in mine as we climbed five floors of stairs to reach home.

As I watched my father suffer, I reflected on the pain that God must have felt when he watched his Son suffer on the cross. In Fookienese,爱(love) and痛(pain) sound alike. The greater the love, the greater the hurt. To love means that we bear one another’s pain and suffering. It was torture to see my parents suffer while they were sick and dying. Jesus not only bore physical pain, but also the pain of having his father turn his face from him. In His agony, Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

During my season of darkness, I felt like I was encased in a dark cocoon. Like the humble caterpillar, I had to squeeze and wrestle my way out of the cocoon so that I could emerge into new life. So often I wished that God would free me from a difficult or sad situation, or change a difficult person to make my life easier. Instead, I was changed when I dwell (linger) in the shelter of the Most High. God showed me that it was possible to rest in this dark time by trusting him to be my light. As I stopped struggling against the darkness, I realized that I was resting in the shadow of his wings.

I write about memories of this dark time, because I do not want to waste the trials and lessons of my life. My hope is that by sharing these stories, others will be comforted and will praise God.

Thank you, Lord, for being a light to guide me through the darkness. Help me abide in your shadow. In the shadow of your wings, I will praise you, O Lord. Amen.

 

In the valley of the shadows…

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do
you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of
John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said
to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you
love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to
him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21:15-17

I want to share my journey into the pit of deep, dark depression. I  felt like my life lacked meaning and purpose, and I did not have zest for anything. I felt unbearably guilty about these feelings. I asked myself: Why are you sad, Marlene? What is there to be depressed about? There are millions of people in the world who are suffering and in much worse condition than you are. I found myself journeying further into a tunnel of darkness when my mom started getting weaker and sickly. After my mother died, I cared for my ailing father until his death four months later. For many weeks after my mom passed away, I could not sleep and felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown. I went to see a psychiatrist, and she gave me medications to help me sleep better. Then three days later, I had a bad fall and had to have surgery on my broken ankle. Yet in the midst of my physical incapacity and my father’s grave illness, I began to see light at the end of the tunnel. God showed me in tangible ways how he provided for me and my family during these critical times. I began to be aware of and not take for granted many blessings: timely provisions of caregivers; understanding, kind and capable doctors; good health for my family, Andrew’s, the children’s, my mother-in-law’s and especially my sister’s as the care of my father fell heavily upon her shoulders while I was incapacitated.

Though I am no longer dwelling in the shadow lands, I continue to struggle with physical and emotional challenges as I care for my family and my aging mother-in-law. Anxiety and fear, weariness and frustrations are a continuous battle for me. At times, anger and grief overwhelm me, and I often feel like my emotions are on a roller-coaster ride.

In the opening passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. Perhaps Jesus asks Peter this question three times so that Peter will think about how much he really loved Jesus. Peter realizes that Jesus knows all things, including his love for him (v. 17b), but he is still hurt when Jesus asks him the third time (v. 17). Then Jesus says: “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (v. 18). John writes that Jesus says this to predict the kind of death Peter will face to glorify God (v. 19).
One of my concerns about writing these stories is that they will expose my shadows and weaknesses—or those of people close to me. When I was taking a soul care class at seminary, our professor had volunteers sit in the middle of the class to share some shadows from our lives. I was the first volunteer.

It felt as if I was undressing myself in public, and it was uncomfortable to feel naked. The professor guided us in navigating the journey through these shadowy places, and she encouraged us to dwell and even linger in the shadows.

Like Peter, there are many shadows in my life that I did not choose for myself. Yet God uses these shadows to reveal his glory. In these unpleasant and uncomfortable places and events in my life, I experience God’s power in my weaknesses. His love, grace, mercy, and peace shine bright amidst these dark shadows and deep valleys. As you walk through the shadowy places in my stories, I pray that you will find God’s shadow providing a comforting and peaceful shade for your story as well.

Dear Lord, you know all things. You know I love you. Yet many times, I failed you. In spite of this, you restored me with your word. May your word and your presence accompany me to go through the shadowy places of life so that people will see your glory. Amen

It’s Christmas!

Give Love on Christmas Day lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

People making lists, buying special gifts,
It’s time to be kind to one and all.
It’s that time of year when good friends are dear,
And you wish you could give more than just presents from a store.

Why don’t you give love on Christmas Day
Even the man who has everything
Would be so happy if you would bring
Give love on Christmas Day
No greater gift is there than love.

People you don’t know
Smiles and nods hello,
Everywhere there’s an air of Christmas joy.
It’s that once of year when the world’s sincere,
And you’d like to find a way to show the things that words can’t say.

Why don’t you give love on Christmas Day
The man on the street and the couple upstairs
All need to know there’s someone who cares.
Give love on Christmas Day
No greater gift is there than love.

What the world needs is love
Yes, the world needs more love.
Why don’t you give love on Christmas Day!

This song kept ringing in my ears these past few days. While the noble idea of love-giving is much repeated in the song, it misses the essence that Christmas is first and last about God giving man his love. This love is wrapped in a little babe lying in the lowly manger. This love is Jesus who left his heavenly throne to become man of humble beginning. We love because God first loves us.

Indeed, no greater gift is there than love. No greater gift to give on Christmas day than the gift of love.

Christmas is a festive time of year – a season for joy and celebration especially among Christians because we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yet it has become so commercialised that it has lost its essence – in the festivities, gift-buying and giving, in the tinsels and glitters of ornaments on trees, in the traditional practices that evolve all around the world throughout the years. This is also the time of year where people are most lonely and sad… those who lost their loved ones, those who are struggling with broken bodies, and broken relationships.

More than gift-giving of time and resources, Christmas is about purpose-driven love. What motivates God to give Jesus to us? His sense of justice and righteousness. His grace and mercy. His love and compassion. God loves man. God is holy. He hates sin. Sin is disobedience to God. Sin deserves death as penalty. God is just. He is righteous. He sends Jesus to take on the punishment that man deserves. Jesus came to be born as a man; to be like man and to die like a man. He is sinless yet he bore our sins on the cross so we who believe in him and accept his salvation becomes right with God.

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How do we respond to God’s gift? We love God back. How? By obeying his command to love our neighbour. Who is our neighbour? Our neighbour is anyone within our sphere of influence, within our circumstances and anyone God sends to us – for us to love. It might be the sickly family member. It could be the lonely friend who just lost a spouse. Perhaps the street children begging for money, knocking on your car window, singing Christmas carols.  How do we show love? We give love by sharing our resources in money, time and effort – to bring healing, to nurse back to health whether physically, mentally or emotionally.

When the wife of our family driver left him, we asked a counsellor friend to help reconcile them and bring them back together. By God’s grace, they were reconciled and recently his wife just gave birth to their second child. My mom-in-law’s caregiver recently gave birth prematurely. Her son is still now in the hospital. We gave her a sum of money to help her financially. We lent her more money when she asked for help. This Christmas, my husband and I came to HongKong to spend time with his elderly friend who recently lost his wife to cancer. Another couple also had their friend, a recent widow, spent Christmas with them. A classmate of mine is struggling with depression. He and his wife are spending their first Christmas – grieving for their 9 year old daughter who passed away quite suddenly few months ago.

The world is a sad place for many people this Christmas. Amidst our festivities, having the joy of spending precious moments with loved ones, let us remember those who are grieving. Let us extend a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold on, and ears to listen… listen to their groans and griefs of silence. Let us open our eyes to see – more than just the external and superficial, let us look into their heart – their yearning and broken heart needing love to comfort and heal. Let us open our heart to truly give love this Christmas.

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For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son.  He loves us with an everlasting love. How are we responding to this love? How are we passing on the love?

No greater gift is there than love. What the world needs is love and the world needs God’s love through you.