Crisis as an opportunity: Lessons from Case 227 when he revealed his identity
Despite the 631 COVID-19 cases we have in Singapore to date, not much is known about these patients. Identities are kept confidential and they are only referred to as case numbers even in the mainstream news.
It’s easy to understand why: With so much fear surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, one may be ostracised even after recovery. I, too, think I would want to remain as anonymous as possible if I were to be infected.
But in an unprecedented move, Pastor Raymond Sim from Lighthouse Evangelism Church, also known as Case 227, revealed his identity when he gave an exclusive video interview with The Straits Times while in his isolation ward at the National University Hospital last Thursday.
And as I watched his “room tour” peppered with jokes and testimonies, I wonder if this is how a Christian response in any situation should be.
GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
In the interview, Pastor Raymond described himself as “emotionally down” when he was first admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 15.
He confessed that he felt guilty because it seemed like he had put his family in danger. Pastor Raymond felt the same way towards his spiritual family as well, as his church had to suspend its services due to his infection.
We mess up sometimes due to situations that are not even under our control.
“Self-condemnation and regret started to creep into my heart,” said the 53-year-old, who fell ill after returning from a holiday in France. “I felt I’m supposed to be helping others (instead).”
However, he had overcome these emotions by the time he spoke with The Straits Times on March 19.
While Pastor Raymond could not physically support others due to his condition, he is able to offer help in another way: By using his own experience to assure others. In fact, that was his main motivation for revealing his identity to the public.
Pastor Raymond was jovial as he counted his blessings like having a TV for entertainment, a phone to connect with his loved ones and a comfortable bed to rest in. He could even joke about his poor appetite, exclaiming “it looks like I’m going to be discharged a trimmer person”.
Waving a book in front of the camera, he showed what he had brought in to read: Max Lucado’s How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations.
“It’s okay to come in,” he said, encouraging those who are sick but afraid to get tested, “…you have more time to do the things you cannot (usually) do because Singapore is such a busy place.”
BE PREPARED IN AND OUT OF SEASON
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Pastor Raymond credited the healing process to the support he received from his co-workers, family and friends. But he also openly shared that his faith played a big role.
“I guess shame is one of the biggest deterrents to freedom in life,” he elaborated. “We mess up sometimes due to situations that happen which are not even under our control. But when that happens, I think God will uphold us in His hands. Because His grace is sufficient.”
While Pastor Raymond was giving this interview with regard to his COVID-19 infection, he could have easily been talking about the fall of man and the grace of God. The context may be different but the principle remains: Where we can’t help ourselves, God’s grace is enough.
Aside from Pastor Raymond, there have been countless others who have been affected by the worsening COVID-19 situation, but instead of shying away, took the chance to testify about God’s goodness.
These include couples and exchange students whose plans have been disrupted in this season; families whose incomes have been slashed; and even medical staff who see God’s fingerprints in spite of the challenges.
The truth is, we can’t control our circumstances, but we can definitely control how we react to the circumstances. Like the word 危机, which means “crisis” in Chinese, we can view challenges as a danger or an opportunity.
The question is: Will we choose to magnify our problems or will we choose to turn our problems into an opportunity to magnify God instead?
THINK + TALK
- How has your life been affected by COVID-19 thus far?
- Are you able to find a silver lining in your situation?
- How can you testify about God in both the good and bad times?