As we celebrate Singapore’s 55 years of independence, it is also a time for us to look at how this week’s reading speaks to us about our faith and trust in the Lord our God, calls us to listen to His soft prompting in our hearts and teaches us how to discern His messages. Could we be like prophet Elijah, who is obedient to God’s command? Or be like Paul who loves Christ more than himself and who is willing to undergo a curse upon himself for the sake of Israel, God’s chosen people – for them to come to the knowledge of Christ? Then there is Peter, a man of little faith, who when fear and doubt crept in, lost focus and lost his trust and faith in Jesus.
When Elijah took shelter for the night in the cave on Mount Horeb after he had been travelling for 40 days and nights, he was there to wait for God’s message. From the beginning of time, the mountains have always been associated with God’s dwelling place. In actual fact, a mountain is a place where we are away from the loud outer noises of our surroundings, cut off from the usual people and business around us. There, we can embrace solitude in order to hear the truth about ourselves, to hear the voice that calls you Beloved. It is also a place where God’s covenant took place.
Although Elijah had won for the Lord against the prophets of Baal, there was a threat and fear that he was still going to die at the hands of the powerful and evil queen. Elijah felt alone too. He wanted to give up, he felt depressed, discouraged and fearful.
As with us today, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, we are now hit by the recession, not just in Singapore, but worldwide. We could be like Elijah at Mount Horeb, with feelings of helplessness, discouragement, fear and depression. It is easy for all these negative feelings to start to creep in. Should we lose hope in God and in ourselves? God’s love takes many forms throughout the stories of scripture.
In Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Again in Jeremiah 29:11, God says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. In the book of Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The severity of the financial crisis during this current Covid-19 pandemic is worse than the 1997 financial crisis, and it makes us tremble as the future is very bleak. We need to be like Peter in Matthew 14:30, expressing our faith even through fear, we call out to the Lord “Lord, save me”. “Take courage, it is I.” (Matthew 14:27) These words of Jesus speak to our hearts. When we are overwhelmed with worry, fear and frustration, we escape and run from the reality of life. We do not have the courage to head on. We overlook the part that Jesus is actually waiting together with us in the midst of our storms.
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we are to call to mind that where fear and love, joy and sorrow, tears and smiles can exist together, and celebration is the acceptance of life in a constantly increasing awareness of its preciousness. Like Peter, take courage, and the Lord our God is in our midst of every situation that we are in.
“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace. His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land.” (Psalm 84(85):9)
Henry Seah, Helen Yzelman, Oswald & Valerie