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In Quietness and Trust is Our Strength
By Dr. CHANG LI LIAN
All the passages below are taken from the book, “We speak of God,” published by the Barker Road Methodist Church in 2001.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength. . ." (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)
IT was a revelation to me that this verse was in the Bible. I liked it the moment I read it.
I was born into a Christian family and I think I grew up taking my Christian faith for granted. I do not think I really understood the relational part of salvation when I was baptised at the age of 12. This perhaps explained why I strayed away from God after graduation. I was busy with career and child-raising and I stopped attending church. I even stopped reading the Bible for eight years. I remember looking at the Scofield Reference Bible sitting on my bookshelf during those years and not having the slightest inclination to read it.
Fortunately the Lord did not give up on me. The Living Bible (New Testament) had come out then and a relative gave me a copy. Out of curiosity I started reading it. To my astonishment, it made sense like it never did before. It struck me as being ridiculous that I knew my professional textbooks more than I did the Bible which, as a Christian, I knew to be God's inspired word. I decided then to read through the whole Bible. That was when this verse from Isaiah popped up in my face. I was in my 30s then. It was only when I took God's word seriously that I began to grow as a Christian. It seemed strange to even say it, but it was only then that I discovered for myself the God my parents worshipped.
A perennial problem with my Christian walk was the lack of consistency. It did not seem any easier to be reborn. It was especially tough to be true to Him in my inner life where attitudes and thoughts prevailed. People could see the outside but I knew what was in my own heart. Many times I hated what I saw. During those times of failure Satan would taunt me: "A Christian, are you? A church leader as well? How disappointing! You can't be a Christian, surely?"
Many a time, I knew I disappointed God. There were even times when I questioned whether I was truly a Christian. Then the words of Isaiah would come to my mind. Isaiah reminded me that it is by repentance and rest that I have been saved and the Lord continues to sanctify me. How thankful I am that my salvation does not depend on myself.
Repentance. Yes, God wants me to repent of my disobedience on a regular basis. I will always have to trust Him to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Satan cannot accuse me. I am resting in the finished work of my Saviour.
Rest. How beautiful the word sounds. He did it all when He died for me. There is nothing He requires of me but to rest in His finished work.
The years passed. There were of course minor trials during the years but nothing serious. It was difficult to know how much I trusted the Lord. Mine was a faith untested. Then, my son was discovered to have a growth in his neck. He was 17 years old and had just finished his A-level examinations.
Parents who are doctors are usually rather casual about their children's complaints. It was our former pastor's wife who noticed the lump in my son's neck and asked what it was. Lump in the neck? Both mother and father jumped up to examine the neck. To our horror it did not look like an ordinary lump. It turned out to be cancerous. "In quietness and trust," I kept praying, "is my strength. God will not fail us."
Outwardly I was calm but my heart cried within me when my son asked while we were awaiting his admission to hospital, "Will I die?" It has never been our policy to tell an untruth to our children. I told him I didn't know. We would trust God. I told him as calmly as I could, "If you die, you will go to heaven, because you believe in Jesus. Mum and Dad will join you later and you can look out for us." I don't know whether he remembers that conversation, but I recall it as if it took place yesterday.
He needed a second operation within days of the first and I remember waking at five one morning and sobbing into
my pillow. My husband and I had agreed that we would not cry so as not to demoralise each other and I did not wish to wake him with my crying. I had come to the end of my tether. That morning I released my son to the Lord. It was only after my full submission to His will that I found peace and quietness. In quietness and trust shall be your strength. The Lord was gracious. My son did not die.
Years later, another major testing came. It was when my grandson was born. We had to prematurely return from a holiday because he was not growing well in the womb and the gynaecologist wanted to expedite his birth. We were relieved when he was born with a decent weight and was well enough to be dischargedd after a week's stay in hospital.
The day after my grandson was discharged, his jaundice worsened. When my daughter-in-law rang me up to tell me that he had turned blue while feeding, my heart flipped. My grandson was born with a deficiency of an enzyme in his blood. We knew that, but to turn blue was something unexpected. I told her to re-admit him into the hospital immediately.
While driving down to meet them in hospital, I remember the same feeling of despair. All sorts of diagnoses came to my mind, most of them not favourable. I prayed as I drove. After much struggle, I again committed everything to the Lord. Again, peace and quietness settled in my heart. This was the quietness and trust the Lord was teaching me.
Right through my grandson's stay in hospital, we waited on the Lord. It was not easy, especially for me. Could I have made an error of judgement by not pursuing the more invasive investigations suggested by the doctors? I trusted the Lord and left the outcome in His hands. Once again He did not fail me.
The Lord has always been gracious. I continue to trust in His love and faithfulness, no matter what happens. He wants me to know Him and His ways, just as Moses knew Him. By contrast, the children of Israel knew His acts but did not know Him.
Life will go on. There have been and there will be more trials to bear. I want to remind myself often of what He has done in my life. It helps me to be thankful all the time. Things are never certain on this side of Heaven, but my hope is ever in God.[88-92]
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:10-11)
Li Lian has her own medical practice. She worships at the 8.30am service together with her husband Dr. Chang Ming Yu, their three sons and their extended families.
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