Under Cover: Out of the Known
Everyone has a lot of fears and they all come in many forms.
Man is brave when he knows his surroundings, he is of full confidence and courage that he wills to take up any challenge that comes to him — he knows the ground he stands on.
But what if the unknown comes and all your walls come tumbling down? What if the things and the spaces and the corners you know changes?
Where will your confidence lie on? Where will your strength be?
Will you still be up for the challenge in an unfamiliar terrain? Will you still be with courage to face what you do not know?
I hear from friends unfortunate stories they came to face with. Unexpected. None of their narrations marked their hearts with readiness when the unwanted came over. They faced themselves and saw the feeble side that they are. Some came to the end of their means. On their own strength, they found themselves unable to manage. Some broke down while others vented out frustration, utter disappointment and anger. It was but all unimaginable for me but I felt their struggle, their hurt and their pain.
Believer of Christ or not, these stories from friends of mine, real-life experiences, they all have one common thing: there’s a threshold of man’s ability to take on challenges in life. There’s a limit to what we can bear.
I remember having read a story of Phan Thị Kim Phúc who is known as “The Girl in the Picture”. The photograph was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken by Nick Ut during the Vietnam War in 1972. Kim Phúc was but nine years old when it was taken in Trang Bang, Vietnam. The imagery was shot while she was running naked on a road after being severely burned on her back by a South Vietnamese napalm attack. The photographer, after taking the shots, rushed to bring her and others to safety.
Can you imagine: You’re only but 9 years old. It’s a normal day, oblivious to your surroundings when suddenly the village people came running all over, panicking, shouting their lungs out telling the urgent need to run, to call for your brother and evacuate, to scatter. Blurry recall. Your mind cannot catch up with what’s happening. Then, you find a part of yourself running away and in flames.
The war, the chaos, the pain felt both physically and that which stuck mentally, the panic, the worry, the fear for losing life — I am not credible to describe the horror that took place in Trang Bang but Kim Phúc knew it too well.
After surviving the Napalm attack, she was used by the Vietnam’s communist government for propaganda. In an article I read by Emily Wierenga published by Faith Today magazine, in the course of Kim’s questioning of bearing a heart with so much bitterness, hatred and the point of wanting to end her life, she had the desire to live on: “Deep down in my heart I really wanted to find the truth and the meaning behind why I suffered, and why that little girl was still alive. And, thank God, I got all that answered when I was 19.”
One day, as she poured herself to studying, she came upon the Bible while in a library. She was so engrossed with it that it brought her looking for and attending a church, “I heard the Gospel explained to me for the first time. The love of God changed my life. I knew that Jesus died on the cross and paid for my sins. So I asked God, ‘Do you forgive me?’”
Phan Thị Kim Phúc was found, forgiven, redeemed and changed — able to forgive one of the pilots who bombed her village.
Kim survived. She survived not just the physical tragedy but most importantly she survived a bitter heart.
She grew gracefully with a forgiving and accepting soul.
Think about Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) who lead the murder of early disciples of Jesus Christ. Think about Job of Uz who lost his wife and children, all his wealth and health in a series of harrowing instances.
I’m giving out these illustrations because no matter how horrendously unimaginable tests come to a man’s life, there is a point to which we come to our end. At those times, we have the choice to ask and look if there’s still more hope or salvation; we also have the choice to just end things as if death will solve it all — this which is not an option in any way.
I believe that the God who created the heavens and the earth roams around and sees you right now. You may think, “What does He care about me?” or maybe you may think “Does He even give a damn about whatever is happening in my life?”.
I would like to tell you that He does.
This is a promise God gave, written in Jeremiah 29, to the stubborn Israel, and to you too, which I would like to leave you with:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.”
2015 has been a wonderful year. God proved to me how faithful and sovereign He is, able to save, able to redeem, able to uphold despite man’s failings. I hope that as you step forward to 2016, you will experience that there is a real God who saves, alive and true to His Words.
He loves like no other.