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Pastoral 2016

A Mutually Caring Church


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 persons 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 who 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 to God our needs, 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 that we may learn to praise Him.



A Close Shave with Blindness
Jenn Lee

I was just lamenting last week about how fragile life is. An ex-colleague of mine (who was the same age as me) collapsed suddenly in her house and died of the condition known as “brain aneurysm”. A day later, my cousin (who was 10 years my senior and without prior medical history) died suddenly from heart attack. I asked myself: if the same thing were to happen to me or my loved ones, am I ready to meet the Lord or to part with my loved ones?

Incidentally, I woke up last Sunday (19th June) with a blurred vision in my right eye. It was like a foggy piece of shield covering my eye. I waited to observe to see if it would get better, worse or be status quo. I went to church as usual, but it didn’t get better. By evening, the tension in my right eye started to build up. I felt mild pain from the right side of my head, down to my cheek and upper jaw. Common sense told me something wasn’t right. My heart was palpitating fast. I couldn’t sit, stand, or even breathe well. I was not sure if I would be able to visit any specialist, it being a Sunday. I decided to call Bro Han Meng (who is a doctor in our church) and told him all my symptoms. He advised me to see a doctor immediately because it got to do with my vision, and he reassured me that there would be a specialist on standby. With that assurance, I walked to the nearest hospital alone, which was about 10 minutes’ walk from my house. It was nearing my boy’s bedtime, so I didn’t want the whole family to come along. Throughout the episode, I was all alone, but my Lord was with me, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5b).

When the “on-call” eyespecialist saw me, he diagnosed it as “acute angle eye closure glaucoma”. He said that I must be admitted immediately because it was an emergency case. Eye-drops had to be administered hourly to bring down the high pressure on my right eye. Throughout the night, the nurse-on-duty came in hourly to apply eye-drop on me. I vomited 4-5 times throughout the night as I was feeling nauseating, even though I didn’t have my dinner earlier. Every time the eye-drop was applied on me, I experienced total blackout in my right eye, which scared me quite a bit. The blurry vision only slowly resumed after about 10 minutes. The nurse told me that was the effect of the medicine. At dawn, my eye pressure dropped significantly, and I could see much better, though vision was still blurred. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

The eye specialist told me that I was his youngest patient in his 25 years of medical practice (the previous youngest one was 44). Obviously, this isn’t a record I am glad to have anyway. For those who do not know what is “closedangle eye closure glaucoma”, according to Wikipedia:

Closed-angle glaucoma can present gradually or suddenly. The sudden presentation may involve severe eye pain, blurred vision, mid-dilated pupil, redness of the eye, and nausea. Vision loss from glaucoma, once it has occurred, is permanent. But, if it is treated early, it is possible to slow or stop the progression of disease with medication, laser treatment, or surgery. Treatment of closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency. It occurs more commonly among older people and more commonly in women. Worldwide, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness after cataracts.

On Monday morning, I had safety keyhole laser treatment on both eyes (the other eye was done as a preventive measure). The doctor said I should be thankful that I saw him the night before because if it was treated late, vision could be lost. How could I not be thankful to the Lord’s perfect timing? “The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17a).

I was discharged on Monday, but I would have to go back to the outpatient clinic for a periodical check. If there is no improvement, the doctor may have to perform cataract surgery to remove my lens and replace with artificial lens. But I will cling onto the promises of my God. He knows what is best for me.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Pastor and Sis Carolyn for their prayers for me though they were in India then. Also, my appreciation to Eld Mah, Sis Melissa and Sis Kim Lei for their words of comfort. Special mention must be made of Sis Gina, who availed herself to help us at home; not forgetting Bro Han Meng for his prompt medical advice and prayer, as well as other friends from Gethsemane who had prayed for me. Truly, my heart is overwhelmed with God’s love shown through the brethren from Gethsemane. ■



Pastoral Exhortation