Haze outside, haze inside; haze in my kitchen, in my bathroom, in my car, in my nostrils, and in my lungs! I can’t get away from it. It is literally everywhere. With every breath I take, it’s infusing me, choking me—killing me softly…
Ok. Maybe that’s being a wee bit dramatic. But seriously! When you look out the window and all you see is white nothingness, when you can’t remember the last time you saw blue skies, when you can look directly at the sad little orange ball in the sky we once called the sun without even squinting, and when you have to do a Google search to remember what clouds look like, it can get a little depressing.
All that being said though, there are quite a number of lessons I have learned since our country got smothered with this blanket of ash and dirt. Here are three:
1. Be thankful for the little things.
“Oh Mister Sun, Sun! Mister Golden Sun. Please shine down on me!” If you grew up with Barney and Friends, you’d probably be familiar with this song. You probably also thought that you would never sing that song along with those angmoh kids on the show, because come on! This is Malaysia! What person in the right frame of mind would ask for sunshine? It’s a blazing hot country! We like our shade and fair skin!
But when the haze shrouds out the light and the little sunshine that spills into my living room is a sad shade of dull orange, I gotta say, I miss our golden sun. I miss blue skies, and fluffy white clouds. I miss the vibrant colors of sunrise and sunset. I miss taking deep breaths of fresh air and being able to walk out of the house without strapping a suffocating mask around my face.
Then I realize how much I take for granted. It’s so typical of human nature to be unaware of how much we have until we don’t have them anymore. The haze may have blocked out our vision of clear horizons and the Petronas Twin Towers, but we still have much to be thankful for.
We can still be thankful for running water and proper plumbing, for vehicles to drive around in (despite the jams!), people around us who care about us, support, and encourage us, an awesome God whom we can freely worship, the Word of God that we have the freedom to possess and read… the list goes on and on. The haze might have buffered out our sunshine, but it cannot quench the important things that light up our lives.
2. Just cos we can’t see it don’t mean it’s not there.
We are very empirical creatures. We like evidence. We are confident of things we are able to see, but need a good amount of convincing to believe in the things that are unseen. Isn’t that one big reason why many of us struggle in our relationship with God?
If He was only visible and tangible to our human eyes, believing in Him would not be something that people needed faith to do. Seasons of feeling distant and deserted by God would not be something that we even have to struggle with, because we can see and know that He is right there.
However, we don’t doubt the existence of the buildings and mountains that are shielded from our sight when the haze hits. Although the visibility on some days is as bad as 1km, we know better than to think that the objects we know to be there have immaterialized. Our inability to see does not affect our assurance of their existence.
Why? Because we know from past experiences that they are there. And so it should be with our God. We know and believe that He is there because we have experienced Him. Having tasted His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His grace firsthand, we have no reason to lose faith in Him or doubt His existence whenever He is silent. When our spiritual eyes get clouded by the haze of life’s challenges, we can remain confident that God remains—unmoved, and unchanging for all of eternity.
3. Things will get better.
Every time the rains pour and the winds blow, we get a glimpse of what our beautiful country once looked like. For several brief hours, we get a thrilling dose of clear air—only to wake up the next morning to another gray, smoky day.
While it may at times feel like a cruel joke that nature plays on us, taunting us and getting our hopes up that the hazy days of 2015 are over, it also gives us something to look forward to. Every hint of blue sky that we are able to see is a promise that someday in the not too distant future, things will go back to normal.
At some point, the fires will cease, and the dust will settle. We’ve been through this year after year, and although it feels like an endless trial every time it happens, we also know that we have survived it before and we will survive it again.
And so it is with the haze of life. When things get rough and the future gets foggy, when economic crises loom ahead of us, when we’re faced with health issues and relationship conflicts and we can’t see past our problems, we can rest assured that tough times come and go.
So look for glimpses of hope that promise clear skies once again. When we put our hope and trust in God—not matter how high the API reading gets—we can be confident that He will put out the fires and send the showers. We can rest in His embrace and smile in anticipation because we know that the sky won’t always be white!
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