All things work together for good (Part 2)
“A Song of degrees. When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. (2) Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. (3) The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”. (Psa 126:1-3 )
Last week, I reflected on how the pandemic could have been good for us spiritually. God has seen fit that we should live through such an event in the history of the world. It was unexpected, and when the pandemic started, the Session had to have long phone calls late into the night to discuss and align on what to do. Taking on different tasks, a Deacon juggled between setting up people on Microsoft Teams, sending out rostered Google calendar email invites, solving problems on a new Google document, and having a phone call to help another Deacon on related issues – all on the same night. Today, as I write this, another is focused on getting Sunday School ready for restarting. Another, thinking through the new processes for his area, was texting me in the wee hours of the morning. All of us in the Session were hands-on to test out the new cleaning processes at the first week’s meetings, and one Deacon volunteered to play the usher/counter role to test it out as well. How has it affected us spiritually?
Obedience strengthens our faith. On the first day that we could resume worship, Perth experienced the worst storm that we have seen for many years. Winds of 40kmh and higher were forecasted. God had ordained the “random” rostering such that families with young children would be coming for the English worship service, while many elderlies were scheduled to come for the Chinese worship service. Would they excuse themselves from church, given the weather? I am thankful for those that continued to come. All who were rostered came for the morning service, and God mercifully withheld the strong rain and winds until after they had left church. Undeterred, an elderly couple arrived 1 hour early for the Chinese service, fearing that they would encounter delays due to the rain and could not come. Once again, our God of heaven and earth whom we worship kept the heavy rain from pouring down until after the elderly had left the church. Half an hour after the worship ended, I could see torrents of rain beating on my window as I prepared for the next online Bible Study at 3:30 pm. We also discovered later in the week that there was a power failure in the church, but it did not occur during either of our worship service times! It was certainly no mere coincidence – God takes care of His own when they seek to worship Him. How privileged it was, that we could be a witness of God’s Providential Hand. To experience all these truly strengthens our faith in the Living God!
Furthermore, with the 4 sqm per person regulation, our cryroom which used to be packed with families with young children could now only seat 6, including the AV personnel. Half of the attendees for that first restarting of morning’s worship were either babies or toddlers. Would the children be noisy and restless in the main sanctuary? Would this cause a distraction to the livestream? Without Sunday School, could the restless toddlers sit through a sermon? Trusting in God’s help, all the families joined the worship seated in the main sanctuary. Toddlers sat quietly next to their parents throughout the service – the answer to prayers to our familial LORD! Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16). A grandparent later said that he could not imagine that it was possible for the grandchildren to sit through the entire service! Children even went to the toilet quietly themselves, careful not to disturb the service. When God brings us back, He works all things out, even in the hearts of the young ones. I hope that through this, parents will continue to train their young ones and trust in prayer for help since cry room space will always be limited due to the physical distancing requirements.
We experienced God’s preparation, help, and enabling. In hindsight, we must see how God had timed and prepared all things. When God moved someone’s heart a few years ago to gift to the church a sum that initiated the AV upgrade, we didn’t know that it would one day be so needed for everyone during this time. Even when that upgrade included cabling to the upstairs sanctuary, we never thought that one day we’d need to tap on that cabling work to run concurrent services upstairs as well. Our God rules and overrules, leads and guides our footsteps, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Ps 32:8). God’s Omniscience is clearly demonstrated here. How we must learn even more to pray and commit our ways to Him and always ask Him to lead us in everything ahead of our church and our lives.
We treasured the fellowship of the saints. For 2 months, most of us stayed in our homes, seeing hardly anyone. I remember a brother who was rostered for duty at church for the first time. Though leaving his family at home to drive to church, his joy was apparent when he turned up for duty, though there were only 3 other people there. Some brethren stayed back on Friday to fellowship till almost midnight, talking about spiritual things. As much as I would have them stay, I had to “chase” them to go home because it was getting too late. While people caught up with each other’s lives, it was the conversations around spiritual lessons and experiences that God led us through over the last 2 months that were most precious. Indeed, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”!
We understand God’s Sovereignty. Yes, for Perth, we are thankful that the pandemic is under control. But we must not just merely be thankful that we did not fall sick. We must ultimately be thankful that we have gone through a period where we have seen God’s active, overseeing Hand at work in all the above testimonies that I have mentioned.
I hope that from these many instances that I have shared, you will see the picture emerging of the reality of God’s work. Though we must plan, it lies not in the planning abilities of man. This timing was unexpected, but God had prepared His people to be able to support His church, BPCWA through such a time as this. It must humble us to know that it is He that calls us to serve Him at His timing. Especially when He calls us at times like these, we must respond in obedient faith– for “without faith itisimpossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb 11:6) Let us, His children, rejoice when God has brought us through these tumultuous months with greater faith, and a greater trust in our Heavenly Father.
If we did not learn to trust Him wholly but even now continue to live in fear after how God has worked in the world, in Australia, in Perth, in BPCWA, and in our individual lives over the last two months, I think there is little left that can help us grow in faith. Let us also not forget for the rest of our lives the precious spiritual lessons He has taught us.
Yours in our Lord’s service,