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Orphaned at 28, I wanted to commit suicide

by Chris Asher Ang | 21 November 2017, 5:14 PM

I experienced my first anxiety attack right after my mum passed away in front of me — from a brain haemorrhage in a Hong Kong hospital.

For once in my life, things had actually been going along relatively well. Having moved past the delinquent years of teenage-hood, I was walking a better path at 22. I was finishing up my National Service in the Police Force, I was getting ready to return to school, I was leading and growing well in Church …

But all that came crashing down with one phone call.

UNEXPECTED REUNIONS

I was on shift as a police officer when my cellphone rang sharply one night. I looked at the familiar number that was calling me and realised it was my dad. This was surprising because since we had a dysfunctional relationship and my parents worked in separate countries, none of us really spoke at all.

I picked up the phone and said my first hello in months, “Hi Dad.”

“Your mum collapsed at work, and it’s due to an internal haemorrhage,” he said. My mind went blank and I could barely respond, but he continued without relent, “Can you fly over?”

I borrowed money from my aunt and took the next flight out to Hong Kong. I was in such a rush that it was only on the plane that I realised I was still wearing my tactical belt!

When the plane landed, I emerged from the airport’s doors to the sight of a sizeable contingent of my mum’s colleagues. They were waiting for me anxiously, faces ridden with worry. After I squeezed into one of their cars, we sped off to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

It had been awhile since I last saw my mother. When I finally did so that day, she was unconscious, surrounded by strangers who busied themselves over her shaving her head and checking charts. Wrappings of various sorts were pulled over her face and from where I was, I could see numerous tubes running through her.

Looking at everything, looking at all the blood … I couldn’t speak.

As I stared at the scene before me in disbelief, someone tried explaining to me that the blood vessels in my mother’s brain had burst. And in a lowered tone, they told me they didn’t have the technology to fix the clot.

There was the option of a certain kind of operation, one that would likely paralyse her and severely impact her quality of life. Where they would operate was just over the location where the brain sends signals to the rest of the body to do things — and that meant my mum wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things when she woke up. If she woke up.

And now I had to choose. As my dad was unable to reach Hong Kong till the next day, he told me that he wanted me to make the decision.

I told everyone I needed some time.

JUST AWHILE MORE

By the next day, most of the people who mattered to my mother were filling up the ward she lay in. I could tell she knew we were around, but she couldn’t move or respond.

She pulled through the next few days, but by the second week, most of my external family had to fly home. Eventually it was just my father and I taking turns to be with her. One of those days, he had returned to his hotel to rest, so I took over and watched over my mum.

I still remember lying on the side of her bed, just watching her. And then I heard God gently say: “Your mum has fought a good fight. What is waiting for her is a crown that will never end.”

It sank in then that her time had come. I knew in my heart that God was about to take her home. But I held on — I was reluctant.

“God … Just awhile more.”

He said nothing in reply to me. But just then — for the first time in days — my mum moved! I realised she was actually awake when she squeezed my hand in hers. She squeezed it as tightly as she could. Hope surged in me as I squeezed back, and we looked at each other.

There were tears in her eyes as she smiled one last time at me. And just as suddenly as she had returned to me — she left.

As I started wailing, the walls of the ward seemed to shift and move steadily towards me. The cramped room I was now alone in began closing in on me, and I remember feeling small. So, so small.

Nurses burst into the room and attended to me as I lay on the floor, hyperventilating from the first anxiety attack of many to come. In between the hot tears that streamed down my face, I could make out in the corner of my eye the shape of my father standing silently at the door of the ward.

ANXIOUS YEARS

When we returned home to Singapore, I tried to slip back into the rhythms of life. I looked for semblances of normality in school and in ministry, where I was serving in a leadership position.

The overwhelming stress I experienced in my polytechnic years were often a trigger for my panic attacks. Nobody knew I was struggling from anxiety until I told a small group of people in Church. But they weren’t equipped to help someone with anxiety — and they regrettably made a few mistakes with me.

They told me, “Chris, your life isn’t right — go back and pray”, and then they sent me for spiritual warfare class. I said it was a mental issue, but they told me God could heal me.

So the panic attacks continued to plague me, and all I’d hear were the words “you are worthless” over and over each time they happened. I’d be crossing the road and the anxiety would arise out of nowhere: You see that car over there? You should go to the road and let yourself be knocked down. You’re not worth a single thing at all!

Once I could hear God so clearly, but now every single day was a battle against the new voices to stay alive. And I grew more anxious and angry as time went by.

Some time later my cell leader backslid — he had been dealing with his own demons — and this fractured our group. So we split up. After that, someone actually told me that it was possibly because of my sins that this had happened to us.

I was seen as the source of all the problems in cell and ministry. They told me I would stumble all the people I led unless I got my act together. I didn’t know what to do. It took a few more similar incidents before I finally was able to see that my current Church wasn’t a healthy place to be for me. And I prayed for God to take me out of there.

Then during my Quiet Time, God spoke to me through Isaiah 43. He told me to specifically search for a Church with had a theme verse with the Greek word kainos (new) in it. I searched, and I found that Church.

But even after joining a new community, things were still rough. One year into my new Church, I was quarrelling frequently with the mentor assigned to me, I was battling daily anxiety attacks … The list of bad things seemed endless. The weight of life upon my shoulders was unbearable.

And it all finally broke me when I learnt early last year that the doctors had found a tumour in my father’s lymph nodes.

SON, I LOVE YOU

One night in March 2016, as I watched my father lie in his hospital bed — life slowly ebbing away from him — I decided that I was done with my own life.

I’d had enough. I didn’t want to handle all of it anymore. I didn’t tell anyone. I just made plans and went to a high building in my neighbourhood and got ready to kill myself.

On the highest floor, I put down all my stuff, placed my phone on the ground and began to climb over the parapet. As my legs dangled over a dizzying height, a warm and familiar voice spoke firmly in the quiet night.

Son, I love you.

I heard God tell me that — clear as day — like a friend. As a Father.

And it was enough. Weeping, I came down from the ledge.

Suddenly, my phone started buzzing on the floor. I wiped my tears and looked to see who would be calling at 1 AM.

It was my mentor who I’d been fighting with for most of the year.

Over the phone, he told me he had woken up to use the bathroom when he was prompted by God that he should call me. And then — he probably heard me stifling sobs — he asked me if I was crying. I remember saying not too lucidly that I was “perfectly fine” and simply enjoying the “high view” from where I was.

It must have been divine discernment, because even in his stupor he connected the dots and cried out, “But Chris — you stay on the second floor! You wait! You sit! I’m coming!”

When he found me, the first thing he did was to embrace me tightly. And as he held me — I think he knew just how much hurt and pain I’d been through — I cried my heart out.

I wept so loudly that a neighbour came out of her house to investigate. When she saw two grown men hugging just under the parapet, she was shocked, demanding to know why my mentor was hugging me and why I was in a pool of tears! She thought I was being violated until I quickly explained what had happened.

When she went back into the house I started laughing for the first time in a long time. Though still sombre from the emotional moment, my mentor started laughing as well. We laughed and laughed, and the darkness around us felt lighter.

That night I had found a true friend beyond my Father God. Just like Him, my mentor was for me, not against me. I haven’t forgotten his words to me before we parted: “Chris, how can I help you? How can I pray for you?”

KAINOS

God has taken me a long way since those dark days. I am laughing again — the life is back. I still struggle with anxiety but I believe I’m well on the road to recovery and that healing is on the way.

I have seen how God has used my story to touch the lives of those around me. Because I share openly about my past, people who also struggle from anxiety feel safe enough to share their journeys with me. And that allows for me to be a channel of encouragement and God’s love for them.

Now I truly feel like I belong in my cell group and my Church, and I am surrounded by people who genuinely care for my well-being and want to walk with me in my struggles. I live each day strengthening my spirit-man, my mind and my body. I work out and keep fit, I stay engaged with people, I stick close to God. I daily overcome.

And now I work as a social worker! I love that I’m not desk-bound, and that I get to make home visits and touch the lives of at-risk youth.

I look at everything God has brought me through, and I count myself blessed to still be here. I give thanks that I’ve survived. And then I look upwards. I see my Father God who has loved me since I was conceived in my mother’s womb.

And I know He has wonderful plans for me. I know He will use me to do good in this world.

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How I got my life back on track

by Tricia Tan | 9 November 2018, 4:51 PM

I did not know how misaligned I was in my body, soul and spirit until I literally collapsed onto the floor.

After teaching for more than 15 years, I resigned and enrolled into a Bible school. Upon graduation I was headed to Cambodia for a missions trip, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by a rude shock.

I had arranged to meet my Bible school friends for dinner. I parked my car at level five of Plaza Singapura, opened the door and stepped out.

Suddenly, an excruciating pain hit my back. I could not stand up. The pain was so unbearable that I slumped to the floor. Lying on the ground helplessly, all I could manage to do was grab my phone to call my friends.

When they found me, they called for an ambulance and I was wheeled to the A&E department. My friends told me later that a car had reversed into the empty lot next to mine. Had they not located me, I would have been crushed since I was in the driver’s blind spot.

Thank God for preserving my life! I was diagnosed with a slipped disc, and that was when I began what I call my wilderness journey.

During my recuperation, I had no regular income – but I had regular quiet time with God.

God showed me how misaligned my life had been. I was running on the performance treadmill and relying on my own strength to accomplish things. No wonder my body protested – I was burnt out.

Having the luxury of time in my hands, one of the things I enjoyed doing was learning at different seminars. I attended one organised by Archippus Awakening.

Now, something interesting happened two weeks before the seminar. A word was released to me that I would be given a new sense of smell – I would smell fragrance in the presence of His truth.

And at the seminar I really smelled fragrance!

Busyness is not fruitfulness. Faithfulness is key.

God had my attention.

And as I heard Pastor Henson (founder of Archippus Awakening) speak about being awakened, aligned and assigned – my spirit leapt in resonance!

God whispered to me that I was called out to be in alignment with what He wants to do in this season. I was to be anything but aimless.

I wanted to finish strong and to be able to say I had done what God assigned me to do. So I charged to the book table after the seminar and bought a copy of Say to Archippus. I devoured the book and got in touch with Pastor Henson after that, eventually attending an awakening event (a retreat) to learn more.

As I focused on intimacy with God, my body began to recover, as my soul and spirit were restored.

I also began to receive assignments from Him. God said to say no to teaching and yes to writing. That was challenging because I would have no regular income.

But as I learnt to obey Him, He encouraged me. When my second book was published, I received encouraging reports of how the book had been a blessing.

When we focus on the aligning, God will do the assigning.

One email from a caregiver excited my heart: She was reading my teaching anecdotes to a 77-year-old retired lady suffering from dementia. Usually unresponsive, this lady began to move her hands and a smile appeared on her face.

The caregiver told me how encouraging it was to see her patient progress; she was prompted to write to encourage me. I knew in my heart then that God was affirming my obedience.

I also resolved to discern between kingdom assignments and Christian activities. In choosing kingdom assignments, I was experiencing unspeakable joy and a sense of purpose amidst challenges. Life becomes all about Christ and being intentional to fulfill kingdom purposes.

Obedience is the key to unlock blessings.

When we focus on the aligning, God will do the assigning.

One of the kingdom assignments I took up was to be a mentor in the Mentoring Aligning Process (MAP) – an Archippus Awakening initiative. What mentors do in MAP is journey with their mentees to check their alignment to God.

In such a ministry, I learnt to do things differently. I learnt to let God empower me and to work from a posture of rest. That meant having to completely trust Him and obey Him – not relying on my own strength or wisdom.

God is my King, and I do what the King says. I have been awakened! I do not want to go back to sleep again. Busyness is not fruitfulness. Faithfulness is key. I am also thankful for a community of kingdom friends, Archippuses, whom I can journey with and spur one another on to finish our race.

May I encourage all of us to be awakened, aligned and assigned for our King and His kingdom purposes. May we echo Jesus’ words in John 17:4: “Father I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”

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Lean in, lean back: He’s okay with that

by Jonathan Cho | 9 November 2018, 2:49 PM

“A disciple is someone who is leaning back on Jesus, hearing his heartbeat, and from that perspective, looking out into the world.”
—Dave Lomas

It all began with a message by Dave Lomas called “Lean back”. It was based on a passage in John (John 13:21-29), which describes how the disciple “whom Jesus loved” leaned back on Him as they reclined together at the table in fellowship, moments before Jesus was taken away.

According to Lomas, this was a perfect picture of how we can find rest in the Father’s love, the same way Jesus too rested on His Father’s bosom (John 1:18) in perfect submission and trust. And His call to us is the same: To lean in and listen to what He is saying, as well as to lean back and rest in His love.

Do you recognise my voice
The beating of my heart
Let it drown out all the noise
That’s keeping us apart

The image stuck with me for some reason – I simply could not get it out of my mind. I asked myself candidly: Did I really believe that Jesus would love me in such a deep and intimate way? Or was there something about the love of God that I haven’t quite understood?

“Lean in, lean back. Rest on His chest, He’s okay with that.” I wrote down the words that had surfaced in my mind and left it sitting in my collection of other virtual notes.

A couple of weeks later, I was invited to a songwriting session with Awaken Generation, where we were asked to prepare song ideas to share. As the day drew closer, I revisited my notes and these same words came back to me.

In a moment of inspiration, a melody came to mind, and I quickly recorded it down as a voice memo whilst penning the lines.

Lean in, lean back
Rest your head on my chest
I’m okay with that
Lean in, lean back
My love is wider than the ocean
Are you ready for that?

Still, even after writing it down, the words and language I used to express God’s love for us seemed so unconventional and alien – could I really believe this? Was I being too radical or worse, heretical with my thoughts about God?

I mean, who would imagine Jesus saying something like: “I’m ok with that?” or “Are you ready for that?” I wasn’t sure. But if nothing else, I would at least have something to share at the songwriting session, if I were asked.

Well somehow, I ended up sharing that little chorus and was encouraged to develop it further. But I was stuck – what else could I say? I could barely comprehend “how deep the Father’s love for us”. What exactly is God’s heart for His children and how would I express His desire to love us so intimately?

These thoughts continued to permeate my mind as I drove home from the songwriting session. But by then, I was simply looking forward to being home to see my wife and little one, Zoey, who was barely a month-old then.

I arrived home to a sleeping wife and baby, and quietly carried little Zoey out from the cot, wanting to wind down from the day together. I enjoyed just being with her. As I sat down on the sofa to adjust myself, Zoey squirmed a little and I propped her up, resting her head on my chest. She snuggled up and quickly fell back to sleep.

And then, it clicked. The moment could not have been more divinely orchestrated – I was receiving a picture from God Himself. He delighted in me resting on His chest. In the same way I was enjoying Zoey even though she was doing nothing but resting, He truly desired and loved to carry me tenderly. Where else did I get such fathering instincts from?

Immediately, like a download from Heaven, words and images started to surface in my mind and I understood fully what the Father had been trying to show me all along.

Is it hard for you to speak?
Is it hard to lift your head?
I am gentle with the weak
Let me carry you instead

He wants us close to His chest because that is where we will hear Him the clearest – it is where we will hear what is on His heart and begin to recognise with greater familiarity the sweet cadence of His voice resonating throughout every part of us.

And we must learn to trust Him enough, that when we rely and rest on Him so unreservedly and fully, He does not reject us. Just like Zoey and me. If I, a human, broken, sinful father can love my daughter in such a way, how much more my heavenly Father, from whom all fatherly-intuition comes from?

Listen, seek
Breathe in, deep

I began to think about how I would want my children to grow up knowing me – I would want to them to know their father’s voice. I would want them grow in trust of my goodness and love towards them, truly believing that whatever the situation, they can be confident that I speak into their lives only from a place of deep love.

While this process begins with recognising my voice (literally), it matures into an ability to recognise the heart behind that voice, to the point where it has the ability to “drown out” all the noise, discouragements and lies of the world.

Isn’t that what our Lord desires for us too? (John 10:27-28)

As I began to gently lift up Zoey’s head and adjust her to make her rest more comfortable, I cradled her little head gently, remembering how fragile it was and how dependent she was on me to care for her, to respond to her cries for attention.

My love is more than enough, child
More than enough for you

Is this how the Father sees me, too? How vulnerable and broken we must seem to be Father! That in our moments of weakness and desperation, God tells us that all we need to do is cry out for Him in “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26-27), and that the Spirit of God intercedes for us – He hears, He knows, and He understands our deepest yearnings and needs.

And as those revelations came, I penned down every thought and allowed the Father to take me on a journey of recovering the language of love between a Heavenly Father and His children, a language that has become foreign to so many of us.

Lay down your burdens
And I’ll give you rest
Lay down your weapons
Lay down your weapons

Perhaps this image of deep intimacy is something that many of us dare not even imagine. Could we really imagine ourselves reclining next to Jesus at the dinner table, lying on his chest? Some of us don’t even do that with our friends or loved ones.

Lean back on Jesus’ chest? Are you sure? Aren’t we supposed to bow down before Him?

It is something we must hold in tension – God is the Almighty One, the One who shielded Moses and hid him so that Moses would not be consumed by His glory; and yet also expressed perfectly in our Lord Jesus – the very representation of God, dwelling amongst us in human form.

He is a God who reclines with us at the table and invites us to rest on His bosom in an act of crazy, radical intimacy. Who dwells within us in Spirit, one with us in our suffering, that we may share in His glory (Romans 8:17).

This is exactly what Jesus did during His time on earth. This was how He lived out His relationship with His Abba. With His ears always close to His Father’s heart, He was only ever interested in doing what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19).

Jesus understood what God truly cared about. He knew who He was, that He was loved, and that His Father delighted fully in Him (Matthew 3:17). And He invites us all to do the same – to lean in, lean back, and trust that the Father is always okay with that.


“Lean In” is a song from Awaken Generation‘s latest album, “Our Light Has Come”, which has been released on October 24, 2018, on all major music platforms.

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What are you wrestling with?

by | 9 November 2018, 2:35 PM

One of my favourite actors is Dwayne Johnson. He’s better known as The Rock, a nickname he got while he was still a professional wrestler.

I love his acting versatility and his charisma; it’s actually pretty hard to reconcile the soft guy he is with the exaggerated, violent theatrics of his previous career as a professional wrestler.

But one thing about professional wrestling is that it doesn’t really resemble what wrestling and struggling actually look like in our lives. A lot of it is internal; wrestling to accept the way things are in our lives.

And just as wrestling is about submission, the truth is that all believers struggle to surrender to Christ at one point or another.

Why do we find it hard to surrender to Christ?

After all, the Bible tells us that from the beginning, He already knew the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11). And when we surrender to Him, He gives us rest because His burden is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30).

The fact is, we only ever want to rely on ourselves. We make decisions to benefit ourselves because we wrongly believe that we are the masters of our destiny and in control of our happiness.

Yet it was God who started His good work in us (Philippians 1:6) by even creating us. So when we decide to complete this “work” based on human strength and understanding, it will never work out.

God is not our opponent standing in the way of fruitfulness and happiness. We are our biggest opponents.

As Jacob physically wrestled with God (Genesis 32), he was also wrestling with himself.

After all, he had just been told that his older brother, Esau, whom he had stolen the family birthright (Genesis 25:29-34) and inheritance (Genesis 27) from, was coming to meet him with 400 men (Genesis 32:6).

Jacob must have been frightened. He knew that Esau had planned to kill him (Genesis 27:41), and that the 400 men coming with him could well wipe out his entire family and all he had. And he knew that he would deserve such a fate.

Against the facts and numbers, Jacob also had God’s promise from the time he was at Bethel: He would be the father of many and God would not leave him until He had fulfilled His promises (Genesis 28:10-15).

It was God’s promise that Jacob clung on to as he prayed: “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted’” (Genesis 32:11-12).

God is not our opponent standing in the way of fruitfulness and happiness. We are our biggest opponents.

I believe that even after that prayer, Jacob was still afraid, and not fully surrendered to the Lord.

That is when his inner wrestling manifested into a physical one with God, who seeing that Jacob would not relent, brought him physically to a posture of complete surrender and submission (Genesis 32:25).

Since Jacob’s hip had been wrenched, there was no way he could physically escape the potential disaster that lay ahead of him. I believe that’s why he told God: “I will not let You go until You bless me”.

In my view, that is the moment Jacob learnt to have total reliance and dependence on the Lord. In complete dependence and surrender, God made a way for Jacob out of a potential conflict.

When the brothers met, Esau ran to receive Jacob with grace (Genesis 32:4), and they were reconciled.

How ironic it is that we struggle to surrender to the Lord and keep striving in our own strength – when He has already promised freedom when we choose and follow Him (Galatians 5:1).

The Lord is sovereign over us. He is sovereign over all. That truth alone will always bring comfort. He is the only one we could surrender and submit to totally.

He is the God we can fully trust.

/ samanthaloh@thir.st

Samantha is a creative who is inspired by the people and stories around her. She also loves striped tees and would love to pass her collection down to her future children. Currently level 1127 on Candy Crush.

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Feeling desperate? Worship is the answer

by | 8 November 2018, 2:24 PM

Think about all the things you’re struggling with today. What would happen if I asked you to take a step back from the problems and worries … And worshipped?

Have you ever thought to do just that in times of trouble — to worship when you’re at your wits’ end? To the rational and solution-minded, worshipping in such a scenario sounds counter-intuitive. And that’s the point.

As Singaporeans who lean towards practicality and pragmatism, the next time a serious problem arises, I want us to consider: What if worship was the first recourse, not just the last resort?

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-31, where King Jehoshaphat defeats the armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir.

The odds were completely stacked against King Jehoshaphat and the country of Judah, as whole armies were marching upon their territory to decimate them.

If we were leaders in such positions, I suspect that many of us would be hastily making preparations to retreat, or perhaps drawing up the terms of surrender for a capitulation agreement. We would be thinking of compromise.

But what was King Jehoshaphat’s response? He “resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3), as all the people gathered at the temple of the Lord.

Do we realise the gravity of the image this chapter gives us? That’s an entire nation, coming together in crisis, looking to God as the first recourse and the last resort: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

What would life look like if at the first sign of trouble, we seek the Lord, fast, pray and worship? How oblivious we often are to the fact that the Almighty God is with us.

What happens next in Jehoshaphat’s story is remarkable.

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.” (2 Chronicles 20:14).

Jahaziel received a revelation from God. He shared with the assembly the message that the coming battle belonged to God, as well as the exact details of God’s impending victory and Judah’s deliverance.

What is interesting to note here is that Jahaziel was a Levite and a descendant of Asaph. As a Levite, he and his family, and all the generations before them, had been set apart for worship since the days of Moses (Deuteronomy 10:8).

Prayer is the fragrance of heaven, and worship the sound of God’s assured victory.

And Jahaziel was a descendant of Asaph. Asaph was one of the great seers and worship leaders of King David’s time (1 Chronicles 16). All this to say: Worship was in Jahaziel’s blood.

So it is little wonder that the Lord released revelation to Jahaziel — someone wholly devoted to ministering to the Lord. A true worshipper (John 4:23) who was singled out by Father God as the one to bring revelation.

Worship brings revelation. What if we were Jahaziels in the face of our hardships or a seemingly impossible situation? Hearing a single word from God can transform our whole lives — let alone a circumstance!

Though we are often tempted to believe we are helpless creatures, we have this fearsome weapon in true worship of God.

“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”” (2 Chronicles 20:21)

It might initially sound incredibly stupid to have musicians at the front of the army — surely you’d want your strongest fighters there. But true worshippers are the strongest fighters.

Consider this: In the chaos of battle or inertia at impending crises, music is the most effective tool to command troops or galvanise forces.

We can see the results of this strategy right in the next verse: “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

Side note: There have been so many times in my life I’ve felt so beaten down and wearied, that I could hardly pray or speak a word. But I could still sing the worship songs imprinted on my spirit since childhood.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
“With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm.”
“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”

And I’d be edified and encouraged in that moment. I believe audible worship unto God changes the spiritual atmosphere of the place we are in. It takes us from looking at ourselves, to looking at God.

There is an inherent heavenward direction to worship, such that we cannot remain rooted or mired in the weariness of life for as long as we seek God worship.

And there is nothing demonic forces hate more than the sounds of our prayer and our voices in worship of the Almighty God. Just as Jehoshaphat’s enemies were routed as the worshippers sang and praise (2 Chronicles 20:22), I believe a similar thing happens to demonic forces when they hear the sound of true worship.

Prayer is the fragrance of heaven, and worship the sound of God’s assured victory.

King Jehoshaphat knew the power of worship.

He treated worship as a divine spearhead against the enemy, which tells us that worship isn’t just something to do before and after a big crisis. Worship is also crucial during the throes of the crisis.

The greater truth is that worship should be taking place all the time, in feast or famine, peace or war. For a worshipful life reflects the very purpose of our design as creatures of worship, destined to bring glory to God and pleasure in Him.

So what are you up against today? Would you dare to believe that worship is the answer to the seemingly impossible?

A worshipful life reflects the very purpose of our design as creatures of worship, destined to bring glory to God and pleasure in Him.

Draw near to God in worship, for the sake of worshipping God Himself. He deserves the highest praise and is worth the weightiest worship.

And everything else that is going on in the world … We can leave that to Him.

He reigns from Heaven and is in complete control.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you …” (James 4:8)

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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Wading through grief and the broken heart

by | 8 November 2018, 12:02 PM

It was around 4pm on a Monday.

My friend sent me a text that a mutual acquaintance of ours had just passed on. From suicide, to be exact.

Is it even possible to grieve over someone you barely knew?

As I spent the next few days trying to process this, more bad news came my way.

This time it was 4pm, again, on Thursday, in that same week.

The sudden phone call was from my mum, which was strange, because she never called me at work unless it was an emergency.

“Your uncle just passed away. He’s gone.”

As her voice struggled to remain calm on the other end, my mind drew a blank.

I realised in that moment that grief is all the same. While it can manifest differently and take on different intensities, it is all still the same thing. Grief is …  Grief.

The question that lingered over my head then was: Now how?

ACKNOWLEDGE IT

From a completely logical and human perspective, both of them had left way “before their time”. That friend was in her twenties, just like me and my peers. My uncle was months shy of walking his own daughter – my cousin – down the wedding aisle.

I spent that entire week going through a myriad of emotions. Initially I tried to coerce myself out of what I was feeling, to go on “business as usual”. But the more I tried to pack my emotions into the closet, the more out-of-control I found my emotions to be.

I was shocked. I was angry! I was shaken deep within me. I was in disbelief; I was confused. I was not okay. My heart was … Broken?

The first step to approaching any kind of grief – no matter how silly or severe it might appear to you – is to acknowledge it. There is no shame in grieving. For some people, it might look like a lot of weeping, for some it might be just silent solitude.

Acknowledging my grief was doing myself justice. I wasn’t going crazy; I wasn’t being a wreck for no reason. As I let myself experience the full measure of the sting of my grief, that was when the room for healing opened up.

TALK ABOUT IT

But that being said, our grief, when not handled with properly, can potentially be an agent that isolates us from community. People. Friends. Family. When not managed, it can even walk us into depths of darkness – alone.

Yes, talking about grief to others may be an extremely painful and difficult task, but the body of Christ is called to bear one another’s burdens. People may not fully comprehend the gravity of your situation, but it’s healthy to let community be the safe place for you to ventilate your spirits.

It was difficult for me to bring up my loss to the people around me. I didn’t know where to start, or how to even say it. But once I got it out, the people around me rallied together around me and watched out for me. That made things easier.

REST ON IT

In times of grieving and mourning, it can be really exhausting. Sometimes you think you’re over it, only to find it returning without warning. Sometimes it comes and goes like a wave, sometimes it looms over you like a persistent fog.

Throughout that emotionally difficult week I also found myself going through an extremely packed schedule – work events, ministry meetings, gatherings with friends whom I hadn’t met in months … And even a wedding.

Shuttling to and fro from one appointment to another while trying to keep my emotions under control in front of people took a real toll on me. Not only was I physically tired – my mind was all over the place too.

Eventually I realised that I needed some time of quiet and solitude at home and I did just that.

It is okay to disengage from the world around us and go to rest. Take time to nurse the pain, and find peace in disconnecting with the daily hubbub and connecting with God.

SURRENDER IT

Personally, I’ve found that it is easiest to process my grief when I surrender it fully. It is in surrender that I find that I have no use for answers.

Surrendering my grief, in the midst of all the tears and confusion, means that I can trust God with it and all that other stuff that comes along with it. Surrender means exchanging my situation for God Himself. Surrender turns my what-ifs into even-ifs.

That even if it hurts, I will still choose Him. He is still good, He is still sovereign, and He will carry me through.

That is what we must do in the midst of our pain. And in the midst of the aching pain felt deep within me, that was what I did.

/ christina@thir.st

Christina is a designer who memorises Pantone swatches. Her standard bubble tea order – oolong milk tea with 25% sugar, less bubbles and no ice. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.

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Article list

Orphaned at 28, I wanted to commit suicide

How I got my life back on track

Lean in, lean back: He’s okay with that

What are you wrestling with?

Feeling desperate? Worship is the answer

Wading through grief and the broken heart