8 July, Sunday – Strength In Adversity

8 July

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Ezekiel 17:22-24

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10

In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.

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Mark 6:1-6

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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For it is when I am weak that I am strong

I have never been one that had to be strong for others. For much of my life, I have only had to be strong for myself, as I had been blessed with very independent parents who didn’t have to rely on me. And I do not have any children to care for, save for a nephew and niece.

Recently though, I have had to stand firm in the face of adversity, both from professional and personal points of view. The professional part has not been easy but neither has it been draining; it is the strength I have had to summon to face the storms on a personal front that has been wearing me down. Looking back, I can also tie it back to the fact that I stopped trying to go for daily morning mass as I have not been sleeping very well. So it has been a bit of a vicious cycle, leading to what many may term ‘spiritual dryness’. I still find joy in ministry though, and look forward to serving at CSC, as well as editing and uploading these reflections. But I have started to feel more worn out and more spiritually drained.

Last weekend, nearly 300 of us attended a community retreat at CSC for ministry members. Towards the end of the first day after dinner, we played an interesting game of affirmation the organisers called ‘Back Biting’. Basically, each member got a sheet of blank paper which we had to clip behind our backs and then all of us were given 10 minutes to go around writing positive things on each other’s backs. At the end of the ‘backbiting’ period, we were asked to sit down and to slowly digest what others had written about us. Needless to say, I was totally floored as I read my paper and tears started to stream down my face. I guess over the past few weeks, I had been filled with self-doubt and inadequacy. I had been beating myself up when in actual fact, people saw me very differently.

Indeed, brothers and sisters, it is when we are at our weakest that God shows us how strong He is. I never knew I had it in me to lead a discipleship group, let alone have a go at leading praise and worship. But ultimately, it is all about surrendering our weaknesses to God. Because all he asks is that we remain open to His graces and that we remain faithful to Him. I know that on the odd morning I manage to make it for 6.30 am mass, that entire day just seems to ‘float’ by, with nary a harsh word/thought and with everything running smoothly (especially when I am asked to lead worship at practice).

So if you are feeling inadequate or are filled with self-doubt as you stand before your storm, know that He is always with you, strengthening and moulding you in His image and likeness. He is filling you up with all that He knows you need to get through whatever season of difficulty you are facing at the moment. And in the end, the light will shine again in your heart.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for courage to stand firm in the face of adversity and for the faith that You will lift us up and shine your light in us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for showing us how strong we can be even as we fall down.

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