You Have Been Pruned… : A Covid-19 Reflection

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As we were marching into the fourth phase of the Movement Control Order, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has also reported that Malaysia’s GDP will be shrinking by about 2.9% in 2020 compared with 2019, resulting in an estimated 2.4 million people losing their jobs. Of the 2.4 million job losses, 67% will be among unskilled workers.

Joining in as one of the speculated 2.4 million unemployed Malaysians, I would be lying if I have not lost heart in the midst of these unprecedented times.

I took a sabbatical leave since July 2019. It was fun-filled, enriching, and never short of a breath of fresh air until I moved into the in-between job phase since the beginning of 2020. Beyond my expectation, the job-hunting process was sinisterly stressful, and the pandemic could easily triple up the intensity. Being disheartened, discouraged, doubtful, disappointed, and frustrated were just a few emotions that constantly pierced into my heart for many months.

I struggled to understand ‘ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you’. I struggled because nothing went my way at all, if not the opposite way. I struggled because I leaned on my own understanding. I struggled because I was reluctant to let go of my ‘driver seat’ to God.

So, I empathize with you and the ‘waiting room’ you are in, be it a standstill in career, health, relationships, and financial uncertainties. The pandemic is universally putting all of our plans on hold; to a certain extent, some are crushed and shattered, like my case.

 

The end of my strength is the beginning of His.

 

I was fervently hoping to announce the ‘turnaround in my own term’ that I managed to find a corporate job oversea when many were losing theirs. I was one of the leading candidates after all. I could not wait to glorify about our God who has been so good to me to break all the impossibilities. I trusted God that I am His favored child and that there was nothing He could not do.

It was the Monday after Easter Sunday that I was not selected.

Overwhelmed with utmost disappointment, I knew I would naturally shed tears as a means to decompress. Paradoxically, I felt liberated engulfed with a great sense of peace within me that I would describe as supernatural. My heart was breaking but I was not broken. I hid in my little corner where I prayed. My first drop of tears followed by uncontrollable weep was when He reminded me of a Scripture that is neither new nor exceptional – simply Proverbs 3:5-8 and Matthew 6:33 that I needed the most at that moment.

That very moment I knew He was catching me as I fall, like how Jesus immediately caught Peter while crossing the rough sea. He even knew my broken heart more than I am.

 

God is still good to me. I am still favored.

 

I am in His good, loving hands. His cupped hands was where I seek refuge, rest, and reflect on His presence in the entire journey that completely overhauled my own ambitions. When my hope in Him was restored, I have got everything I need!

 

So, what has changed? After all, I gave up great things in life.

 

 

… For greater things like being employed the way I would like to?

Instead, here are the greater things:

  1. I bounce off my bed every morning like never before.
  2. There have not been Monday blues or Sunday night depression.
  3. I have ‘daily bread’ for breakfast. (Note: I came from a place where I only read the Bible during church service to now daily morning devotion.)
  4. Truly knowing our living God loves and never forsakes me somehow frees me.
  5. The abiding life sparks a more complete joy than Marie Kondo’s decluttering.
  6. My old, rather glamourous lifestyles have been pruned to what matters: fasting and healthy eating, praying, serving, confession, Scripture study, frugality, and worship.
  7. After being abroad for 5 years, despite the initial reluctance, I am back to the safe haven with my family here.
  8. Lastly, with a total surrendering of my career life to His plan above mine, for the first time in my life, I am pleased to announce that I finally love what I am doing for a living. What I am working on remains the same and as ‘secular’ as before. However, when I commit to working for God, that changes everything.

 

What we can see is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

In my case, though outwardly it seems like a standstill or even a significant downgrade, yet inwardly it is where I thrive in His Kingdom that is hidden yet powerful filled with goodness and peace.

He is not a show-off God, hence not doing the obvious turnaround that I had imagined earlier in breaking the impossibilities. All I know is that He will eventually provide more than we have ever asked for. As Matt 6:33 says, “Seek first His righteousness and Kingdom and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

Covid-19 is temporary. Do not waste this season of recalibration with God.

 

Currently, I am meeting God for breakfast through Lectio Divina. Do not let the Latin word to intimidate us. It is essentially spending time with God in meditating on 5-10 Bible verses, praying and journaling, and worshipping.

To get started, you may consider using ‘Meeting God in Scripture’ by Jan Johnson, as I do. Otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out to your spiritual mentors or church friends for tips and guidance.

 

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18)

 

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