“Having the patience to see the end intended by the Lord that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” James 5:12

by Steven Chan
22 November 2009

This weekend we grieve with our Brother Lim Chong Teck and his wife Sis Annie over the sudden loss of their beloved eight year old son, Lim Wei Xiang on Friday afternoon at the Assunta Hospital.  The active and expressive young boy was earlier treated by a specialist for fever and appeared to be recovering when he started to complain about giddiness and general malaise.  The parents rushed him to the hospital where the doctor there discovered that his blood sugar level was very high, and the doctor diagnosed him as suffering from a condition known as ‘diabetic ketoacidosis’ – apparently a complication of diabetes that occurs when the body cannot use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because the body has no insulin or not enough insulin.  Just as they started their treatment, he stopped breathing and the doctors could not resuscitate him.  His condition was totally unexpected because he had no prior history of diabetes.

We are much saddened by this big loss to the family and our  prayers  are  with  them as we  also  seek  to  comfort them as we also seek to comfort them during this very difficult period of time.

The totally unexpected passing of Lim Wei Xiang, as also in the case of the loss of our loved ones, reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life—and that we should all take heed to what the Bible says in James 4:13-15; “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

The Bible says that we do not know what will happen tomorrow.  So, we need to always plan our lives on the premise, ‘if the Lord wills’ and not presume that we will always be around tomorrow.  This means a constant awareness of our mortality and dependence on God’s grace and providence for all that we do or plan to do in our lives.  In Luke 12:20, God said to the godless man who succeeded in being financially independent: “But God said to him, ‘ Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

No one can expect to live forever because the Bible says in Heb 9:27-28: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

As we face the possibility of loss of loved ones and our possessions, we need to adopt the faith and attitude of Job as expressed in Job 1:21-22: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.”  Indeed the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away—as James 1:17 says: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”  So we need to always acknowledge God’s sovereignty, His grace, mercy and wisdom towards us all.

As we seek to comfort the family, let us be encouraged by the fine example of Job’s three friends as recorded in Job 2:11, 13: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place — Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him … So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.”  They were true friends as demonstrated by their willingness to “come and mourn with him, and to comfort him”.  But the most incredible thing that they did was to sit down with Job on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.”  It is not what they say that matters; it is the fact that we are sitting next to them that brings the greatest comfort to the bereaving family—just being there with them.

It would have been wonderful if the three friends had continued to maintain their silence because when they finally spoke with Job, their counsels were not helpful to Job at all—they were sincere in wanting to help Job but they were wrong in their understanding of God’s will.  The same may happen to us when we sometimes say the wrong things even though we may be well intentioned—especially when we fail to rightly discern the will of God.  The Lord was pleased with the great faith and patience demonstrated by Job in that he chose to reject the counsels of his wife and friends, and remained faithful to God throughout his ordeal.  As recorded in Job 42:10-11, when Job was asked by God to pray for his friends, “the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.  Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.  Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house ; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him.”

Job provides a great example for us today.  As recorded in James 5:10-12, the inspired writer exhorted thus: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”  Joseph went through an almost similar roller coaster life—and then he correctly discerned the will of God as recorded in Gen 45:4-8: “Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.  But now, do not therefore be grieved nor angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So now it was not you who sent me here, but God;” Gen 50:19-20: “Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

We may not understand or discern why the eight year old son of our brother & sister in Christ was taken away from us but we should nonetheless remain firm in our faith and learn to have the “perseverance of Job who subsequently saw the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful”.  We must remain assured of God’s great love for us—as the Bible says in Rom 8:38-39: “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 crated thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Based on His great love for us, we can then learn to trust Him: “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12).

Please continue to comfort and pray for Bro Lim Chong Teck, his wife, Annie and their daughter, Lim Chia Ye.