Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seeing Beyond Disappointments and Keeping Hope Alive

Lorraine continues to be a wonderful guest blogger for My TIE. Especially since I am working through re-formulating my own writing in 2015. She continues to express her experiences as she continually finds God in the middle of her life's storms. I am forever thankful for her honesty. But even more, I am appreciative that she allows us at church and you as her readers an insight of how God is transforming her life in these storms. I know there are greater things yet to come for Lorraine.

Pastor Tom Ford

When people think they are at the darkest point in their lives and that there is no sign of things improving, they often say “it cannot get worse than this.”  The reality is things can indeed get worse. 

For those of you who have been following my story may remember that I have been trying to leave my current job for four years now while coping with my mom’s illness and her eventual passing.  God has yet to deliver me out of the challenging situation at work or at home.  He has been using my dual storms to build my character and to make me a light for others in a dark and broken world.

A matter of fact a couple of weeks ago, the dual storms that I have been battling with both took a turn for the worse.  I was however reminded that in dealing with disappointments, we can either focus on our loss, or on God Himself.

God allows for disappointments

There were times when I expressed my frustration that God has delivered everyone I ministered to at work out of the fire, and even for how I have supported my boss on the loss of her sister.  My boss has been, and is still the cause of my anxiety at work.  I also spent over six months doing prayer walks around a children’s hospital after each frustrated day at work remembering a young child from my church.  He was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five and went through months of treatment and has since been fully healed.  I could not help but to ask, what more does God want me to do?  After 125 job applications and 12 job interviews, God is still keeping me here.

A weekend or so ago, ‎I drove an hour and a half in bad traffic, picked up desserts from a specialty bakery and arrived at my dad’s place just to find out he was going out for dinner.  I had no advance notice.  Dad decided to just leave me there at his place to have dinner alone with his nanny (who spent all afternoon preparing the delicious home-cooked meal) to go out with my brother because he called to ask dad out at the last minute.  I felt hurt and was in tears.

The nanny told me dad has always been asking about my brother and is always wondering how he is doing because dad hardly hears from him.  Since mom passed away a year ago, I have given up almost all of my weekends so that I can visit my dad and have been ministering to him since he told me he wanted to go where mom is – to be with the Lord in Heaven.  At times there was much hope that I thought may be the Lord did take mom away for a reason – to bring dad to Him also.

In the past year, I have driven dad to attend Alpha class which introduces the basics of the Christian faith, and have arranged for him to attend a new church where he can be better equipped to get to know the Lord.  A support network has been set up where dad now gets regular rides to and from church and for my cousin to spend time with him on Sundays so that he can feel and experience the love of God.  I have also spent the past year sharing Pastor Rick Warren’s daily email devotion with dad hoping that would inspire him to read about the Lord and the life Christ would want all of us to live.  The incidence on that weekend confirmed what I have always feared for: that my brother (who has yet to know Christ) is my dad’s number one priority; and I was just his back-up or the “spare” when my brother is not available.  I have feared that my dad would use the daily devotion as an excuse to tell my brother I write to him every day, so that my brother will be in touch with him more often; and yet the devotional passages would never be read.  Well, both my fears became a reality – that dad does not have Jesus in his heart. He is still living a self-centered life and worries about everything every day.

Faith in God’s goodness keeps hope alive

Keeping hope alive is the only way we can get through life’s trials, tribulations, setbacks and disappointments knowing that God is in control of our lives and the story is not over until the end of time.  Focusing on God’s goodness is what we can see beyond disappointments and keep going.  Hope strengthens us and reminds us that God will lead us onto the best path.  Hope can lift up our spirits and keep us from giving up at the times of failure and disappointment.
Although I may be feeling the recent hurtful setback with my dad, and that I am still stuck at my darkening work environment waiting for God to accomplish His mission through me; I have not yet given up hope.  What we want may not be what God wants for us.  His plan is always bigger than ours.  God does indeed answer our prayers and He does so in three different ways:

1.            “Yes” – because we deserve it;
2.            “No” – because we deserve better; or
3.            “Not yet” – because the best is yet to come.

What happened in the last couple of weeks at work and at home could easily set me back in my faith journey, but instead it was a good reminder for me to trust the Lord more each day.  God uses life’s challenges to build our character and to test our faith.  Only God can change people and it is up to us to trust Him that in His time, He will answer our prayers in His way.

God tells us in His Word, “Love the Lord, all his faithful people!  The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:23-24 (NIV)

We need to thank Lord for every gift and every blessing that He has graciously given to us and to remember His goodness when times of testing and disappointment tempts us to give up.  If we focus on people, we will always be disappointed, but if we focus on the Lord, there is always hope. The choice is ours!  Let us be encouraged to let the Lord know that our hope is in Him.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Lorraine Fung
July 19, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Story Continues: Responding to God and Serving Him Everywhere

Making Me Fireproof: 

Praising the Lord and Blessing Others in Extreme Conditions

God works in mysterious ways that we may never understand but as long as we obey and live a life focused on Him; He can do great and mighty things. Being completely obedient to God is not easy but the joy that we will experience as a result is something that is beyond what words can describe.

A life that is full of miracles and God’s stories can be joyous. It has been almost a year since mom went home to be with the Lord. The reason why God has placed me in this darkening work environment and putting me through a grieving period with friends and my own family is to use my experience in Him to change other people’s lives, and to allow my painful journey to bless others and lift them up. I have found that the more I experience Him, the more faithful I have become and the more I want to praise Him. Here’s the continuation of my unfolding story on how God continues to use my dual storms to make me a light in a dark and broken world.

1. God knows exactly when and where to place us

Just over two months ago, I was coming home from an 11-hour work day. God placed me and my neighbour whose mother’s health is deteriorating in the same elevator in my building, the same person who I shared my moms story with a few months back in the parking garage when I got her in tears.

Her mother has been in a nursing home and was in great pain at the time. The doctor said she could pass any time and the prognosis was only for a few weeks. All of a sudden April 9, 2014 came back when I was told about my mom’s condition. We cried and prayed together. I shared with her my experience during my grieving period and how I have turned to Christ for peace and comfort.

What was amazing was that God knew exactly when and where to place us. My neighbour was just returning from visiting her mother when the doctor told her Jesus could take her any time. She has not even gotten home yet and I showed up in the elevator as the first person she met after hearing the bad news. Before heading to the elevator, I took a short break looking at community notices in the lobby in my building on my way upstairs. God made me wait so that I could be in the same elevator with her as she came up from the garage. God is always on time, He is never early and He is never late.

Since that elevator ride, I have frequently bumped into this neighbour of mine and she continues to share with me the amazing story about her mother, who is still alive and well as I am writing this blog. On Easter Sunday a miracle happened when she returned to the nursing home to see her mother, who was not in her bedroom at the time. Her mother’s condition has improved so much
that she was walking around in the nursing home talking to others. My neighbour anticipated that was her last moment with her mother when they found peace with each other earlier that morning. It turned out that God had other plans, He said not yet.

2. God has a mission for each one of us

Just over a month after the elevator ministry. God took my ministry to another level. Because of the stress and craziness of my work environment, I was diagnosed with workplace induced hypertension a few years ago, a condition that I have finally found a way to manage. But this is also when God put me to work once again, ministering to the person who has been the reason behind the anxiety – my own boss. She was losing her sister (at a young age) to illness, who passed away shortly after I started praying for her and the family.

After days of prayers, I decided to attend the funeral visitation of my bosssister just a few days before mother’s day. The funeral took place on a day when I was off work and just before I was leaving the country for a much needed break. It was a 35-minute visit at the funeral home where I did not know anyone but my boss; but God spoke to me and gave me the encouragement that I needed to head into this year's mother's day, my first since mom went home to be with the Lord. I managed to get through the visit and it was not until my boss said, this must bring back memories of my mom when tears started to come down hard – she ended up having to give me a hug in return.

I met most of the family members but it was my brief chat with my boss’ brother-in-law that I felt touched. He has very strong faith and he told me the story of how his wife had been blessed for over 10 years after her heart transplant and during this time, how she never stopped volunteering to support other heart transplant patients and their families. His wife had great strength to struggle through her last couple years with health complications but she never gave up. The night before she passed away she was holding in her hands a picture of Jesus. It was this strength God gave her that is now helping the family get through this difficult time. There were scrap books on display in the room that were made by her husband for each year she was blessed to live after her heart transplant. I only managed to get through a couple of them and it was like reading the story of how Jesus worked to help others. I felt encouraged and it was exactly what I needed to get through this year’s emotional mother’s day.

3. God has bigger plans for us

Despite the exhaustion, both physically and emotionally, God gave me an opportunity recently to attend another job interview. This was my 10th job interview and 112th job application since March 2012 when I started to pray for God to deliver me out of this darkening work environment. But instead of delivering me out of the fire, He has made me fireproof.

Looking back, it is clear that God’s plan is always bigger than ours. He has kept me here at this darkening workplace for almost four years to build my character and to minister to the person who
is one of the reasons for my desire to leave this job. Along the way He has also given me other co-workers in need to practise my skills and has turned me into a prayer warrior.
God tells us in His Word, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:3-8 (NIV)

God's grace is indeed sufficient for all of us. If we truly follow His lead and just simply respond to His urgent call to serve Him everywhere, He sure can use us to share His grace and love, and to be His light in the darkest place in this broken world. The reward is beyond what we can imagine. May His glorious name be praised!

Lorraine Fung
June 2, 2015