13 December, Sunday — Rebuilt, push ahead and live life.

3rd Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11
1 Ths 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8,19-28

think before you do anything — hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

We are in the season of Advent and in just twelve days, it will be Christmas. As we look back on 2020, many would want to wipe the year off our memory banks. But it will be a year to remember. It taught us many lessons and gave us a rude, but much needed, wake up call. Nothing about the year is normal. I wonder if we’d actually go back to ‘normal’.

As I look back on the past 11 months, my life is largely unscathed. Other than the emotional roller coaster of the circuit breaker, things were almost normal. In fact, I found new ways of engaging myself and improving my health. I don’t say this to gloat. On the contrary, I say this with gratefulness. Of course there were times of heaviness. Like everyone else, I felt trapped and dismayed with everything that was happening around me. Reading the news everyday brought me down. I saw first-hand how the year has brought many to their knees. Jobs and livelihoods affected. I hear of many in depression. Some, sadly, have taken their own lives. I feel pain and sadness when I hear of these stories. What anguish and hopelessness they must have felt to drive them down that path. My heart breaks.

For many, 2020 will be a year that we find hard to rejoice, see hope, or see anything good coming out of. Many of us tasted fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Many are still reeling from the ongoing effects of this pandemic. I so hate this word, ‘pandemic’, just as I dislike the description ‘new normal’. But, it is what it is. And our lives must be rebuilt and we must push ahead and live life.

As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.

In the middle of all this, there are many who have pushed forward, to rebuild and reorganise their lives. They have not lost hope. They are creating opportunities, working hard, thinking out of the box, and doing whatever they can for themselves and their families. These are the people that give me energy, inspiration, hope and joy in the midst of all this uncertainty.

Recently, my prayer group met for the last session of the year. It was a lovely time of prayer, sharing and fellowship with these ladies. As I look back on how far each of us has come along since we began, it’s such an inspiration to see them grow spiritually and come into their own, despite battles and challenges.

There is however one person — I feel badly that I strive to be empathetic and loving towards her. For the last one and a half years, the narrative has not changed. She feels misunderstood — that having sacrificed her life, no one sees her value or appreciates her. Our sharing sessions have become a place of release. Which is good. However, lately, we are of the opinion that she needs professional help. This little prayer group is not enough for her emotional needs, nor can we give her the type of support she requires. We can only hear her out and pray with her. I feel sad for her that she is unable to move ahead.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. In spite of everything that’s happening around us, there is something we can be grateful for. For me, it’s simply the gift of this life. That I go to bed (and actually sleep) and wake up refreshed each day, I have food, a roof over my head, and I can walk! That during this season of life, God is doing a new thing with me. I am going back to school in January!

Everyone is going through a rough time. Some rougher than others. Yet so many have looked adversity squarely in the eye and refused to be pulled down by helplessness. They have gone ahead and revamped their lives. Test everything; retain what is good. We learn from the lessons of today and grow stronger tomorrow. Refrain from every kind of evil. Let’s not let the bad guy have his day! Jesus Christ is for us!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: I ask God to bless every single person reading this reflection today. I pray for those who are suffering during this pandemic, those who have lost loved ones, and those who are battling illness — especially those suffering from mental and emotional illness. That the strength of God holds each one. May the peace of God prevail in everyone’s heart.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the peace that is in me. Thank you for doing great things in my life.

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