Thursday 29 May 2014

The beginning and the end

Another song comparison :) Both songs rank among my favourites, and one is yet again from Plumb.

Don't Deserve You - Plumb
You're the first face that I see
And the last thing I think about
You're the reason that I'm alive
You're what I can't live without (x2)

You never give up
When I'm falling apart
Your arms are always open wide
You're quick to forgive
When I make a mistake
You love me in the blink of an eye

I don't deserve You now
But You give it to me anyway
Can't get enough
You're everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It's what You do
And I don't deserve You

You're the light inside my eyes
You give me reason to keep trying
You give me more than I could dream
And You bring me to my knees (x2)

Your heart is gold and how am I the one
That You've chosen to love
I still can't believe that You're right next to me
After all that I've done

I don't deserve a chance like this
I don't deserve a love that gives me everything
You're everything I want

(Listen here -

Not A Bad Thing - Justin Timberlake
Said all I want from you is to see you tomorrow
And every tomorrow, maybe you’ll let me borrow your heart
And is it too much to ask for every Sunday
And while we're at it, throw in every other day to start

Now how about I’d be the last voice you hear tonight?
And every other night for the rest of the nights that there are
Every morning I just wanna see you staring back at me
'Cause I know that’s a good place to start

I found it interesting how both speak about starting and ending each day with that significant 'Other'.

Psalm 63:1,6 O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water...When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
Psalm 92:1-2 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night...

I guess that's a challenge - can I, can we, start and end every day with a heart of thankfulness, of gratitude, and of awe and wonder in contemplation of everything with which we have been blessed? In the midst of the despair and hopelessness that surrounds us, be it through the senseless school shootings in America, the ongoing civil conflict in Syria and South Sudan, the terrible tragedy of persecuted saints such as Meriam Ibrahim and the escalating violence and tension wrought by the Boko Harem, Al-Shabaab and so on, can we take a moment to meditate on God's glory and trust that He will ultimately make it all right? Being cynical and rational is all very well and fine, but where does it lead us? Absolutely nowhere. Hope in God, now that's a different story.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

The necessity of needing

For those wondering, I've been back to "normal" life over the past four months in both KL (Malaysia) and Melbourne (Australia). The "real" world, as opposed to the suspended reality that one finds oneself in on short-term mission trips (as in one-week church camps or two-month vacation hiatus), has this inbuilt ability to suck one into its vortex of the daily grind of work, the obligatory time with family and friends, attempts at planning for the long-term future, and so on.

Not to discount their importance, but it does beg the question - what is, or what should be, one's centre in our ephemeral "threescore years and ten" (Psalm 90:10, aka seventy years)? Which is the element that grounds you and brings you back every time you are at a loss? Do I embark on my travels around the globe to escape this rat race, or do I go back to climbing the social and corporate ladders to escape the starkness of economic inequality and human right abuses that plague the majority world? Can I have both? Should I want either?

In any case, I found it interesting to contrast the following two songs, both of which I'm rather fond (although for quite different reasons):-

Need You Now (How Many Times) - Plumb
How many times have You heard me cry out
'God, please take this'
How many times have You given me strength
To just keep breathing
Oh, I need You
God, I need You now!

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still, small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

Oh I walk, oh I walk through the shadows
And I, I was so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

(Listen here -

I Wouldn't Need You - Norah Jones
If I touched myself the way you touched me
If I could hold myself the way you held me

Then I wouldn't need you
I wouldn't need you
No, I wouldn't need you
To love me

If I could replace the things you gave me
If I could see my face without the tragedy

But I do
So come back, come back!

The first song is by the prodigously talented Tiffany Arbuckle Lee and apparently elaborates on her struggle with anxiety and panic attacks whereas the second song is by Norah Jones - who I believe hardly requires introduction - and is obviously about a (possibly dysfunctional) relationship between a couple. I guess what struck me the most is how even though both songs are from the point of view of the singer desperately needing that 'Other' (be it divine or human), the underlying reasons couldn't be more different. The former deals with a need that is primitive in its life-and-death context (whether that entails a physical, mental or spiritual threat) while the latter could be said to be self-centred in its focus on the benefits that the lover brings and how this relationship could become superfluous if only these benefits could be divorced from its giver.

Do we need God in the first or second sense? If I could have all the blessings that He showers us with day in day out, would I still want Him?

Jeremiah 2:9,11-13 "Therefore I will bring charges against you," says the Lord, "...Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," says the Lord. "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."

Thursday 27 March 2014

C'est la vie

Matthew 5:45 "...for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

I've been pondering on the ways of the world. Sometimes, I feel like I've hit the jackpot. From the basic necessities (refer to Maslow's hierarchy of needs), i.e. food, clothing and shelter, to the superfluous details such as a supportive family, loving friends and so on, I have been well provided for throughout my near three decades of life. I have had a happy childhood, non-traumatic school years, both the opportunities and resources to further my studies into medical school and now, postgraduate education at one of the top universities of the world. Passable looks, maybe above-average erudition, a largely even disposition...what do I lack? I have every reason to be thankful! And lest I be accused of pride (although I do confess that it is one of my main weaknesses...or to give it its proper title, sin), I realise that these are all gifts courtesy of our Father above (as the good Book says, 'what do you have that you did not receive?' 1 Cor 4:7).

Even so, why should I be so terribly blessed? The majority world (aka the 'Third World') lives and dies not knowing how it feels to go to sleep with a full belly in a warm dry house with running water and 24/7 electricity, and to have access to education and employment that utilise their God-given intelligence and abilities. Why am I here and not there? Why are they there and not here?

Luke 12:48 "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
(Or to quote another famous figure, 'with great power comes great responsibility') 

I remember a conversation I had with some friends back in KL. How I believe that the more apathetic we are to the plight of our fellow men and their suffering, the closer our hearts draw towards our innate psychopathic tendencies. One of the primary criteria for the antisocial or psychopathic personality disorder is a lack of empathy. 'Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard' Pro 21:13. Just as in the poem First they came..., in which the poet laments the willful ignorance of the wider German populace to the growing oppression of various subgroups by the rising Nazi party, eventually to its very own detriment.

TED: Photos that bear witness to modern slavery - the link is to a video of an American photojournalist who chronicled examples of 21st-century slavery in Ghana, India and Nepal. I become restless when I hear of the injustices that mar this earth we call home, the monstrosities that we allow to exist simply by our doing nothing! Do you think that we will be found innocent of the blood of our brothers and sisters simply because we were not directly culpable?

Matthew 25:41-45 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'"

I get twinges of guilt for being so comfortable cocooned in my beautiful house in Melbourne, planning for my holiday in Brazil for the upcoming FIFA World Cup followed by the big move to the States for my Master of Public Health program...I don't (yet) know what I can do to remedy such a situation. But I know that God has placed us wherever we may be, whether in the here and now or in the nebulous future, to serve Him in whatever capacity that pleases Him. I know that He wants us to be His hands and feet to reach the broken and the dying, His light in the darkness encroaching upon our benighted neighbours, and His voice to break the deafening silence surrounding our weaker brethren. To remind them - and us - that we are not alone. That He sees. And that He remembers.  

Psalm 9:18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Immortality - or the lack thereof

I know I haven't written in a's been a crazy few months, as my family can testify. My dear grandmother (or ah ma, as I call - or used to call - her) passed away on the 2nd of February after seven weeks of hospitalisation following a stroke. So she spent Christmas, both the Chinese and English/Western/Gregorian new year in Pantai Hospital. The first three weeks of my time back in KL was mostly spent with her as we took turns looking after her as she was no longer able to sit unaided, let alone stand or walk, and she also lost her powers of speech and swallowing. The photo's from almost a year back, the last time I saw her with her body and mind relatively intact.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Quite a few people ask me about my experience in South Sudan, in particular, how I dealt with so many deaths and usually that of children as young as newborns. There's never an easy way, especially if the little one was admitted for a while and rapport's been built with the child and his/her family. I saw more deaths in a month there than I saw in my previous two years working in major metropolitan Melbourne hospitals. Some (including myself at times) might argue that one has to preserve an emotional detachment, ensure a mental distance, if only to preserve one's sanity. That's the fine line, the balance, between empathy and heartbreak or burn-out. It's hard...and even harder when it's flesh and blood in question.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

How do I resolve this? The knowledge that it is better to let go of a loved one who is in pain or suffering but at the same time trusting that God is sovereign and that it is in His perfect timing that we return to Him? As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:23, "I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better". There are so many wonderful things, wondrous even, in this world; but they would be easily eclipsed by the joys that await us in the afterlife, and only a lackwit could gloss over all the disappointment, sorrows and injustice that coexist. Besides, it is there that we will finally see Him, our Immortal Beloved, face to face.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'

Grief is a funny to speak. It can be selfish in essence. It can be buried underneath so many layers of the humdrum of daily life but always at the edge of perception like a niggling feeling or an itch that never really goes away. I wish ah ma was still here with us...but I wouldn't wish her to live the rest of her life completely dependent on others for even the most basic necessities of life. No longer able to savour the taste of food or drink, instead being fed questionable-looking fluids through a nasogastric tube. Unable to articulate any thoughts, only able to communicate through frustrated grunts. Bedbound, unable to ambulate to the toilet and having diapers changed by strangers. My God, it's not a fate I would wish on anyone. But still, she may have recovered some semblance of function, albeit at a painfully slow pace. In the end, not my will but Yours be done.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If it was part of His plans, He will provide, His grace is always sufficient. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. In good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. For better, for worse.

Monday 20 January 2014


Psalm 10:1,11-18
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?...[The wicked] has said in his heart, "God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see." Arise, O Lord! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble. Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, "You will not require an account." But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; seek out his wickedness until You find none. The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations have perished out of His land. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.

This precious, not to mention fearless, little boy asked for a photo. Bonus that he didn't request for remuneration in return (sadly, the command of English possessed by the majority of kids I met in Ethiopia was limited to "hi, how are you" and "give me money"). To me, he represented the countless children suffering through the current conflict in South Sudan and elsewhere, be it the DRC, CAR, Syria or the like. It boggles my mind how we can sit down in our comfortable houses and offices everyday, have clean water and reliable electricity on demand 24/7, and usually wrestle with the problem of how to consume our surplus money or food rather than the dilemma of whether to uproot the family and flee into the bush to escape an impending gunfight, in comparison to the millions of souls that find themselves in circumstances that are virtually polar opposites.

What do we do in such a situation? Do we feel bad then promptly forget and move on? Offer a token donation to appease our conscience? Fly over in a valiant attempt to save the world? What would Jesus do? And what would He have us do? It's interesting that God didn't directly answer these questions in the book of Job. All I can do is to continue being faithful, trusting that He always is.

Psalm 94:1-3,5-7,9-11,16-19, 22-23
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the long will the wicked triumph?...They break in pieces Your people, O Lord, and afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, "The Lord does not see, nor does the God of Jacob understand."...He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see? He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct, He who teaches man knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile...Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, "My foot slips," Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul...But the Lord has been my defence, and my God the rock of my refuge. He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness...

Sunday 19 January 2014

Mountains and valleys

Song of Solomon
When I feel the cold of winter
And this cloak of sadness
I need You
All the evil things that shake me
All the words that break me
I need You

Over the mountains
Over the seas
Here, You come running
My Lover, to me

Do not hide me from Your presence
Pull me from these shadows
I need You
Beauty, wrap Your arms around me
Sing Your song of kindness
I need You

Oh, through the valleys
Through the dark of night
Here, You come running
To hold me till it's light

- By Martin Smith from the album God's Great Dance Floor - Movement 3 -

Song of Solomon 2:8,17 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills...Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved...

The pic was taken en route to Wenchi crater lake while we were at a missions conference two weeks ago in Ethiopia. The scenery there is unlike the rest of the East African countries I've had the privilege of visiting, namely, South Sudan (duh), Uganda, and Kenya. While the aforementioned countries tend to be dry, hot and dusty with savannah plains or scrubland as a rule, the areas we travelled through in Ethiopia had a remarkably different landscape, more akin to certain parts of Europe...most probably owing to its cooler climate and higher altitude (over 2,000m on average). Their history is rather interesting as well; apparently the only African nation not to fall under colonial rule (despite two attempts by Italy et al), it has also lived through two decades of communist governance. Its capital (Addis Ababa) has some of the best roads I've seen, hands down, courtesy of China's expansion into the local construction industry. At any rate, the conference was a tremendous blessing; I got to meet my fellow workers who were evacuated from the other regions for the first time (hopefully not the last!), listen to inspiring stories of great endeavours being carried out elsewhere, and best of all, worship God with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ.

Psalms 133:1 Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

May it be so for the nation of South Sudan!

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Last patient of 2013

Bah, I wrote a complete blog post that disappeared into cyberspace when my laptop ran out of battery (note to self: get a new one!). Anyway, the pic is of one of my very last patients before we were evacuated. The wee laddie on the left is Solomon (portentous name, I know!) and the two other boys are his older brothers and the baby's his sister, Betty. He's just over a year old while Betty is around three months and still breastfeeding. He came to us severely malnourished and was also found to have malaria and a urinary tract infection. These malnourished children are extra special to me...maybe because they usually spend weeks on end with us (it takes ages to get even one additional kilo onto their wasted frames), or maybe because the stories that form the background to their illness are usually heartrending.

Take Solomon, for example. His mother has been variously described as being mentally unstable or incredibly 'simple' (almost to the level of an intellectual disability). Whatever the explanation, she was obviously not coping with the care of her four children, even if the oldest two lived separately with their father, a policeman rumoured to be an alcoholic and who was clearly not much involved in the lives of his two youngest kids. Worst still, I think he was partially responsible for their absconding two weeks into their admission. I saw him visit for the first time one Saturday morning, and by the next morning, mum, Solomon and Betty had all vanished. Coincidence, much?

After this disappearing act, they returned the next afternoon with Solomon in a moribund state. My heart just dropped when I saw how obtunded he was, weak and listless with his little eyes rolled back in his head. It turned out that his blood sugar level was 1.7mmol/L (the normal range falling in between 4 and 11mmol/L). Mum claimed that he had refused to eat since 2pm the day before (close to 24 hours), which I gravely doubt, considering there are numerous witnesses to how enthusiastically, almost greedily, Solomon obliterates any edible consumable placed in front of him (it's really cute to see him drink from a cup as large as his head)!

Anyway, mum didn't seem to have any kin who could, or would, help. Both Solomon and his sister were often left in the ward by themselves, crying or fretting terribly, while she was outside cooking or washing. The mothers of the other sick kiddoes would go over and pick them up, trying to soothe away their tears. She would then return to much opprobium; even I, who couldn't understand all the angry words the other mothers unleashed on her, could tell that they heavily disapproved. To top it off, baby Betty fell ill with a mild case of viral bronchiolitis, which was unsurprising considering the rash of bubs with bronch that deluged our paediatric ward in the past month (the epidemiological significance of which is uncertain, especially since we're now heading into the dry season). And their mum fell sick with typhoid fever, not once but twice!

Thankfully, we reached the consensus that Solomon was better off having supervised feeds prior to a safe discharge, and hence negotiated with the orphanage under our parent organisation (Harvesters Reaching the Nations) for the family to stay there for a month or so, just to make sure they have enough to eat in the meantime. Please pray for them; the odds are already against them, seeing how over 1 in 10 South Sudanese children die before reaching the age of 5 years (WHO).

Luke 6:20-23 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven..."

Monday 30 December 2013


Well, I started this blog post two weeks ago, but needless to say, a lot has happened in the interim. I was initially going to write about my adventures in Kenya, a country that I visited for the first time mid November during my break. It was an amazing experience - having the privilege and opportunity to see first hand wildlife in its natural environment; zebras and elephants galore, prides of lions lounging about the savannah or fresh from a kill, all manner of fauna and flora so that the senses are bewildered at the enormous variety of God's creation on display! In fact, here are two of my favourite pictures from the safari (Swahili for 'journey'). On the left is a herd of zebras staring as we drive off and on the right is an elephant in the marshlands against the awesome backdrop of Mt Kilimanjaro, both taken in the Amboseli National Park, my favourite destination of the trip by far.

His House of Hope Hospital is on Google maps!
His House of Hope Hospital
is on Google maps!
But, circumstances have certainly changed. What with the attempted coup in Juba a couple of weeks back (only two weeks? It feels like a lifetime ago!) and the escalating tensions that spread like wildfire to Bor (Jonglei), Bentiu (Unity) and Malakal (Upper Nile) - all in the north or northeast and all significant for different reasons (Bor was the birthplace of the Second Sudanese Civil War and the SPLA/SPLM, Bentiu is one of the major towns involved in oil production and Malakal has the only international airport in the country outside of the capital) - our little hospital was closed and all the missionary staff evacuated to the neighbouring country of Uganda.

Although it may seem to appear (and feel) as if we were abandoning the South Sudanese, the timing was, as much as could be said to be the case in such a time, fortuitous. You see, the other Aussie doctor, his family and our missionary nurses were all scheduled to leave this week to attend a missions conference in Ethiopia. I was intended to hold the fort along with a visiting obstetric nurse from Canada for the next two weeks, a prospect that left me in immense dread, as you can imagine.

By the by, that is no longer the expectation; a silver lining in a very dark cloud. Pray for South Sudan. It is such a wretched situation; it tears me inside that this longsuffering people who have already endured half a century of conflict is on the brink of being thrown back into the calamity of civil war. With these politicians busy grabbing for power, it is the common people, caught in the middle, who pay the price. Not just the poor souls who have already been killed as a direct result of the unrest, but also all who grieve their loss and those who have fled into the bush for fear of their lives. The country with the highest maternal mortality rate and one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world can ill afford such a setback; the little progress made in development initiatives by NGOs and international corporations would be lost and probably even regress.

In this season when we celebrate the incarnation of our Saviour Jesus Christ, may we remember the promise that heralded His coming:
Isaiah 9:1-7 
1Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles.
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For you have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every warrior's sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kindgdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Saturday 16 November 2013


The pic is of one of my all-time favourite patients, precious little Anna :) She's one and a half years old and was admitted for just over three weeks. She came to us severely malnourished (weight under 5.5kg!) and near death with severe malaria complicated by severe anaemia (Hb under 4.0g/dL!). After much intensive therapy involving IV artesunate, whole blood transfusion, therapeutic feeds, and lots of hugs and kisses (she was everyone’s darling), she was sent home on Friday.

Dear Lord, please watch over her; we may not understand her social situation and why she got so sick in the first place but You do. You know how her parents are separated, how she lives with her abuba (grandmother), and how she may not have enough to eat at home. I know You love her so much that You gave up Your own life for her; I trust that You know best how to take care of us, even though we may not comprehend the whys and whereofs.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,“ says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Job 42:2-3 “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

When tragedies occur, it’s natural – even expected – to ask where was God in all this and why He would allow it to happen in the first place, given that He is indeed sovereign and a good God.  I don’t have any glib answers to this thorny question; I don’t believe anyone on earth does. There have been many theologians and philosophers over the centuries that have attempted to unravel this mystery of mysteries. All I know is that one day, we will find out; if not here, then in the hereafter when we shall see Him face to face. In the meantime, all we can do is trust that yes, He is omniscient (all-knowing), yes, He is omnipotent (all-powerful), but at the same time, He has been, is, and always will be goodness itself.

Isaiah 29:16 Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

After all, can we truly say that our lives are in total submission to His will? Are we so sure that the blame for whatever malady that befalls us can be laid at the feet of His whims and fancies rather than that of our own desires or the consequences of a fallen world badly in need of an overhaul?

P.S. The title refers to my upcoming break where I will probably not be blogging for a few weeks; see you all back in December!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Strength in weakness

This photo was taken by one of my favourite kids around the compound, a 10-year-old boy who's discovered how to use the camera (or rather, the Photo Booth app) on my iPad mini in more ways than I previously realised even existed.

Not much to update this time but I do have to confess how immensely grateful I am to our heavenly Father and to our excellent missionary nurses here for bringing me through the past two weeks safe and sound of mind. Words cannot express the dread and trepidation with which I was anticipating being the sole doctor at our hospital when my colleague went on his (much-deserved) leave. Our God knows our far our capabilities can be stretched and never allows us to be tested past them; or else, He gives us the strength to go that extra mile.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

In the aforementioned two weeks of working solo (so to speak), I have had more nights of unbroken sleep than while the other doctors were around. The women in labour were considerate enough to present during daytime hours more often than not and I could call another missionary doctor for advice over the phone. Contrast this with the week that has just past: three sets of twins were delivered just yesterday (including one set via C-section and one set at 22 weeks' gestation, i.e. not viable in our context) as well as two babies with severe birth asphyxia (one from likely chorioamnionitis in the setting of preterm premature rupture of membranes and the other from cord prolapse). I am so, so ready for my own break - coming up in just over a week's time, hallelujah!

The following song is dedicated to my longsuffering family who has had to put up with my obstinacy and stubbornness, from my decision to come here (although to be fair, it wasn't my decision per se but rather an attempt to follow what I have perceived as God's calling) to other petty issues I'll reserve for another time. I miss and love you all dearly.

Eloquent by Sanctus Real
I'm as eloquent as an elephant
About as headstrong as the mighty King Kong
On a rampage throwing airplanes
I can't believe you haven't gone away

I'm difficult, argumentative
About as thick skulled as the dinosaur bones
On a display in a glass case
I can't believe you haven't run away

It must be different through your eyes
Because you look at me like it's the first time
That you've ever seen my face

I'm preoccupied with a crowded mind
I get off track like a train rolling back to the future
Never too sure who'll be here when I come back around
But I'm finding out

I see you the way that you see me
I don't understand the way you see me
- From the album The Face of Love - (see:

As a footnote (although this news deserves more than that), please find out more about how you can help those recently affected by the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan, which has already laid waste to areas of the Philippines and is currently heading towards Vietnam and Laos. Apparently there are 10,000 estimated dead in one city alone! You can start here:
World Vision -
Samaritan's Purse -
Barnabas Fund