The Messenger Zine - STRENGTH / Issue 14
Bold and Courageous
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
One night earlier this year, I found myself unable to sleep even though it was well into the night. I was supposed to have my driving test the next day and I could not stop thinking about all the ways it could go wrong. To make matters worse, the previous time I took my driving test, I failed just minutes after the test began as I struck the curb. As I lay in bed sleeplessly, my heart kept racing and my palms would sweat each time I thought about it.
After a while, I decided to send a message to my friend, asking her to pray for me. Thankfully, she was still awake. She thanked God for giving me the courage to step on to the road, the confidence to steer the car, and the motivation to continue without fear of failure. With this simple prayer, I already began to feel much calmer, and fell asleep soon after. When I went for my driving test the next day, I could be confident, knowing my strength comes from God and not from my own abilities.
From this, I realised that most of the times when I am overcome with fearfulness is when I place the expectation on myself to perform well. I feel inadequate when I focus so intensely on the fact that I may fall short or fail, that I lose sight of where my strength comes from: His love. Strength does not always come to us naturally. We are sometimes plagued with fear, disheartened by our previous experiences of failure. But when I place my trust instead in the knowledge of the everlasting goodness of my God, I need not fear.
God calls on us to be strong and courageous, to go into the challenges of our lives boldly. This boldness is not blindness: it is not that we do not know the difficulties of the path ahead but that we trust that surely, we will be able to overcome the challenges through Him. We can be courageous because we know He promises that He will see us through it all, through the trials but also the successes.
Let us be bold and go forth not because we trust in ourselves but in the greatness of God, knowing that He be right beside us no matter what.
Meet Jea, author of “Latte to Lathi”. In 2015, she left her comfortable latte-drinking lifestyle in Singapore, picked up a “lathi” (Nepali word for a wooden staff in Nepal) and embarked on a 1.5-year faith adventure with God. There, she re-discovered her faith.
Hello! Please intoduce yourself to our readers.
Hello, my name is Jea, turning 34 this year - just one more year before I’m allowed to buy a HDB as a single Singaporean! (: I’ve been working as a civil servant in the social service sector for the past 3 years, bringing community partners together to provide social services and programmes for residents in the locale. In my free time, I browse for pretty interior designs, make clay necklaces, learn singing, mentor a few young adults and spend time with my 8-year old godson.
Please share a little about your book, “Latte to Lathi”. What can readers expect from it?
“Latte to Lathi” is a story of how I left my comfortable latte-drinking lifestyle in Singapore, picked up a “lathi” (Nepali word for a wooden staff) in Nepal and embarked on a 1.5-year faith adventure with God.
It was there in Nepal that I re-discovered my faith, gained new perspectives about life and understood what it meant to come to the end of myself and to fully rely on God. In the book, readers will read about life in the remote villages of Nepal, Nepali culture and beliefs, experiences of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and the struggles and joys of doing ministry in Nepal.
People say that pictures speak a thousand words. Indeed so, especially in relation to a country as vibrant and colourful as Nepal. I had hoped that readers of “Latte to Lathi” would be able to see and feel Nepal come alive through the pages of the book. As such, interspersed throughout the book are coloured pictures of interesting sights and moments that I had captured throughout my 1.5 years in Nepal. I especially like a chapter in the book where I had followed a villager around for an entire day, taking pictures of the things she did on a daily basis, and compiled them into an hour-by-hour journal of her day.
Wonder what it’s like to travel in a Nepali bus for 48 hours and what it can show you about life? Or what it takes to make a cup of coffee in the village? Read the book to find out more! The book is available at The Commandment Co both retail & online.
On the message of strength, what does strength mean to you?
Strength is the inner character of joy, faithfulness and steadfastness that comes from faith in the Lord, and is not determined by external situations. Strength is being able to keep believing in God’s goodness even when things around seem to fall apart. Strength is saying ‘yes’ to holiness and ‘no’ to impurity. Strength is celebrating the success of others instead of coveting it. Strength is bringing justice to the poor and oppressed and welcoming them into our churches and homes. Strength is persevering in love for those whom we feel might not deserve it or who have hurt us. Strength is choosing to forgive, over and over again.
“Be strong and courageous.” What are your thoughts/personal experiences on finding strength, whether in your mission trips or in daily life?
There were many occasions in my life where I felt like I did not have the strength to carry on and all I wanted to do was to escape it all.
A range of things could make me feel that way - physical exhaustion from a day of work and ministry, emotional tiredness from grieving over the ending of certain seasons or friendships in life that I hold dearly, the mental stress of being misunderstood, feeling incapable or not being accepted, and even disappointment in myself or others.
During my time in Nepal, trekking for hours in the jungles would leave me extremely tired and wanting to call it quits.
The post-2015 earthquake days of dealing with post-traumatic stress and sleepless nights were too much for me to bear. In those times, what really helped was having close friends I could share with, talk to and to pray with. These friends would come alongside me to listen and to fight the battles with me through faithful prayer.
In desperate times, I’d cry out to God and He would gently encourage me in His own special ways - at times through verses He brings to my mind, or through the lyrics of worship songs, or even through His silent and assuring presence that He knows how I feel.
The brand story of The Commandment Co is to ‘Send A Message. Inspire Someone.’ What is one message on the topic of strength you would like to leave our readers with?
Strength will rise as you wait upon the Lord. His joy will be your strength, so do not give up! There is always hope, there’s always sufficient strength and grace for the moment. Reach out to people around you who can look out for you, walk with you and pray with you. God called us to journey with community, not alone. Let Christ be your anchor and the rest for your tired soul.
A Father’s Strength
A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox.
The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very huge). When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn’t roll it up and over the wall.
Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.
The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed and shoved. But his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers.
Finally he burst into tears of frustration. All this time the boy’s father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy’s father.
Gently but firmly he said, “Son, why didn’t you use all the strength that you had available?
Defeated, the boy sobbed back, “But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!”
“No, son,” corrected the father kindly. “You didn’t use all the strength you had. You didn’t ask me.”
With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.
(Adapted from https://www.providenceumc-28043.com/inspiration2.html)