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Meaning in the Midst of Disruption

Disruptions to our life are untimely and inconvenient. They break the flow of our plans, scheduled events and normal ways of doing things. We cannot do business as usual. We are forced to make changes and adapt. When the disruption is severe and unprecedented—as in the case of the present pandemic—our routines are broken, our life is put on hold and our world is turned upside down.

We often derive significance from the things that we enjoy and do well. When we can no longer do them, we start to question our significance. We may get discouraged and even feel depressed. We may feel anxious and even fearful about an uncertain future.

Although a severe disruption presents huge challenges to many aspects of our life, it also provides us great opportunities to reflect on the path we have travelled so far and our desired direction for the future. We find ourselves asking fundamental questions like, “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose in life?”, “Which people and things in my life are most important to me?” and “What should my priorities be?”.

The Bible presents the perfect life of humanity as having been disrupted by the choice of the first humans to sin against God their Creator and Ruler (Gen 1-3). With the entry of sin into the human heart and the entire created order, the experience of corruption, violence, death and decay became the existential reality of the whole human race and all of creation. From God’s revelation through Scripture and His Son Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul understood that God’s plan was to bring all His children and the creation into a new existence in His glory at the end of this present age:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom 8:18-23 ESV)

Christians await new bodies and a renewed creation from God. Meanwhile in this present age of Disruption (with a capital “D”), they wait patiently with their hope firmly placed in God:

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Rom 8:24-25 ESV)

When Christians face all manner of disruptions (with a small “d”) during their life on this side of eternity, they can take comfort in one solid and comforting truth: That in all things—even severe disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic—God works for the good of those who have been called as His children, using their difficulties, pain and suffering to mould and shape them into increasing Christlikeness:

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30 NIV)

Therefore, you can always find meaning in the midst of disruption. It all starts when you enter into a relationship with God through believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who loves you more than you can imagine and willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for all your sins, and thereby offers you reconciliation to God. That relationship is forever and will never end. And only within that relationship will the ultimate purpose and ultimate meaning of your life become clear.

Written by Ps Ivan Ho

We hope that you will take time to explore the suggested resources below and that they will help you move forward in your faith journey and grow in your knowledge of God.

 

SERMON

“Finding Meaning in the Midst of Disruption”, by Rev Edmund Chan: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/1555

 

SCRIPTURE

Isaiah 53

Romans 3:9-18

Romans 3:19-31

Romans 5:1-11

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Philippians 3:7-14

1 John 4:7-12

 

SONGS

“Sovereign Over Us”, by Aaron Keyes: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VPkMbhydU9I

“Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me”, by City Alight: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM

“Christ Is Mine Forevermore”, by City Alight: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=roQovDZeAWE

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”, by Stuart Townend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CNF-4tC8m4

“Beautiful Saviour”, by Stuart Townend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSm6fdZHl5Q

“The Potter’s Hand”, by Hillsong Worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgXL3y9RIbI&gl=SG

 

TESTIMONIES

Belinda Lee’s Journey of Faith: https://saltandlight.sg/service/from-party-girl-to-world-vision-ambassador/

(Seasoned media personality, Belinda Lee, shares her story of how she moved from a life of meaninglessness and emptiness despite fame and money to a life of joy and purpose in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.)

“The Hand of God Was Holding Us Up”: https://saltandlight.sg/leadership/the-hand-of-god-is-holding-us-up-choe-peng-sum-on-how-pan-pacific-hotels-group-is-ready-to-expand-despite-covid/

(Hospitality veteran, Choe Peng Sum, shares how God has enabled him to lead the Pan Pacific Hotels Group forward in a time of severe disruption to the hotel industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.)

 

ARTICLES & VIDEOS

“The Pandemic and the Will of God”, by Ross Douthat: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-religion.amp.html

“Is There More to Life Than This?”, Alpha Film Series Episode 1: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hBMMD5C0k-s

“How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?”, by Nicky Gumbel: https://vimeo.com/340710092

“Disruption 101: How COVID-19 is Revolutionising Work”, by Channel News Asia: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/podcasts/heart-of-the-matter/coronavirus-covid-19-company-business-digital-disrupt-work-home-12648072

“There is no returning to normal after COVID-19. But there is a path forward.”, by Marco Albani: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid-19-three-horizons-framework/

“Does the Future Have a Church?”, by Ng Zhi-Wen and others: https://www.scgm.org.sg/does-the-future-have-a-church/

(An excellent piece that provides much useful food for thought to Christians—especially leaders in the Singapore local churches—who desire to be “future-ready” and “future-faithful”.)

“Global Transmission Global Mission”, by Jason Mandryk: http://covid-19.operationworld.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Global-Transmission-Global-Mission.pdf)

(In this short e-book, Jason Mandryk of Operation World has put into writing his wide-ranging observations and reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and implications on our world and the global Church’s global mission. Whether you are a Christian or not, currently involved in Christian missions or not, it will be well worth your time reading this insightful and well-written book.)

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 5:13c-14
Sat, 25 June 2022

The “Peace and Patience” Frame

Observation:

What is the significance of Paul framing his exhortation with “be at peace” and “be patient”?

Deeper Reflection
PAUL IS SPEAKING TO BELIEVERS IN HIS EXHORTATION, See that no one repays anyone evil for evil” (1 Thess 5:15). These words point to a hard reality and a great temptation in the Christian community. The hard reality is, Christians do hurt one another, intentionally or unintentionally, by words, acts or attitudes. The great temptation is when we are offended and badly hurt, we hold a grudge until we are able to pay back the one who hurt us. Thus, Paul is particularly emphatic: “See that” – “Make sure that this does not happen!”We prevent the negative by practising the positive: “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thess 5:15). The action called for in “do good” is “seek”. “Seek” speaks of conscious intentionality, proactiveness and effort. It takes a good heart to have this “seek to do good”. It is a matter of the heart: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good” (Lk 6:45). And this seeking to do good is “always” there in the good heart. Along with this is the readiness to forgive those who hurt us. The foundation and starting point of forgiveness is “as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).“Be at peace among yourselves” and “be patient with them all” frame the constructive actions toward the “idle”, “weak” and “fainthearted”, and those who hurt us (vv.13c-14). “We have no excuse for becoming impatient” with such problematic people “on the grounds that they are difficult, demanding, disappointing, argumentative or rude”62. “Love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4). And peace and patience go hand in hand.
62 John R. W. Stott, Thessalonians, 122
Application:

What does it mean for me to be at peace and be patient with people in the Christian community?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for Church Board: To lead the church together in peace and with patience
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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