Is there still hope in a terminal illness?

Although I have a disease that cannot be cured by medicine and surgery, I have experienced countless graces during this journey of illness, and I have seen hope in my illness. In 2018, I was tested for autoimmune diseases, and the index ANA was as high as 2560, which is the highest index, and the average person is less than 80.

At that time, the body part is extremely itchy, which will affect sleep. There is also moderate depression, which requires regular counseling. I have been unable to sleep well in winter. My illness has made me sensitive to temperature. When the cold enters my body, it can’t get out. Even if I wear a lot of clothes, I feel very cold. I can’t stand the air-conditioning of a long-distance flight by plane, and my knuckles are too cold to be comfortable.

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Hope In The Midst Of Despair

I lost myself in August 2016. For almost a year, I sought psychological counselling once every month. Again and again I wanted to return to the right path, but again and again I went backward to the path that could lead to my ruin.

At the worst moment in this one year, I considered finishing my life from the 30-storey building where my friend lives, but then I was too scared of the pain. In better times I would have many beautiful dreams, dreams of becoming a chef good at both Chinese and western cuisines, dreams of becoming a singer who could touch the listeners’ hearts through my songs, or building an intelligent music website that could list music sheets and audio/video files based on search conditions such as the first line of a song’s melody or lyrics.

I felt that all my emotions and grievance stored up in my heart ever since my childhood and not properly dealt with, all exploded in this one year, and things spiralled out of control. I never faced up to all the negativity from my family of origin, from my study, dating, marriage, child rearing, and from relating to others. I always responded to conflicts and hurts from interpersonal relationship by running away. Sometimes I thought I had forgotten and let go, but things kept replaying in my subconscious, sometimes projected in my dreams. When I faced stress, fatigue, or sleep deprivation, I would be gripped by unspeakable fear and anxiety. One day I might feel very hopeful and believe I could do all things, and on the next day, I felt there’s nothing I could do, and completely hopeless.

I started receiving counselling since December 2016. I tried to tell all the hurtful experiences in my heart. The counsellor said I didn’t know how to love myself, or what loving myself meant. Later on, due to the inconvenience of lengthy travels, I stopped the counselling. Several sisters in Australia, Singapore and the U.S. encouraged me through text messages and supported me through prayers. I knew they would always remember my needs in their prayers, and that gave me strength and courage to keep going.

I was diagnosed with mild depression. I didn’t need medication, but I could have 10 one-hour counselling sessions in a year, just in the suburb I lived in, fully covered by my medical insurance. The counsellor gave me lots of effective guidance and suggestions. I started looking for things to do that would cheer me up. I practised piano, singing, guzheng (Chinese zither) and yangqin. I accepted all lunch or dinner invitations from my friends and enjoyed the relaxing time chatting with my friends. Every week I dropped off my child to his Chinese lessons, and spent the next hour singing alone before picking him up, thus reliving my singing hobby. Throughout the year, I persistently spent 3 hours every week exercising. I cooked my favourite food, and shared cooking tips with others. All these things helped to relieve my stress. I also took up part-time work for 20 hours a week for a year and a half. I became more confident through working with my colleagues. I always shared my feeling and my life with my family and friends on Facebook. Just like the counsellor told me, keeping a journal was very helpful.

My emotion was still unstable. I felt my mind was filthy, always filled with negative thoughts. When I felt upset, I would ask my son to pray for me. Every night his prayers covered my health, my work, and my mood. Every time I had negative thoughts, I felt I was the most sinful person among all. But amazingly, people would appear around me who had similar experience for me to comfort them, because their lives were more difficult than mine. I was greatly encouraged when they then became my comforter.

I was infected by a bunch of joyful people in the church too. Every time I was in an emotional trough, I felt brightened up whenever I saw their smiles and listened to what they said. I sang along with them, some almost 80 years old, some merely kindergarten kids, and that helped me forget all the sufferings in my heart. But I had a rebellious heart – as my emotion fluctuated, I wanted to go back to the old way, the one that sinned against others and sinned against God. Like the prodigal son, who wanted to leave home and do things that harmed himself and harmed others, and to indulge in such things, but in reality brought himself even greater pain and despair.

But our Heavenly Father’s love never changes, like the father of the Prodigal Son, waiting for the lost son to return home. Our Heavenly Father has been giving me many blessings beyond my imagination, and I felt very unworthy for that. I had changed into someone I myself couldn’t recognise. I felt my own self had died and could not be brought back to life. When I was upset, I couldn’t even read the Bible, or listen to hymns. I read the Psalms again and again, but I couldn’t finish reading other books.

Again and again I failed. Again and again I wanted to give up. But our Heavenly Father kept putting me with people who had similar experience, so that I could be comforted as I comforted them. My confidence was renewed when I saw them gaining new lives. One sister reminded me, “you’re doing ‘drugs’, and you need to be rehabilitated.” Another sister sent me articles to admonish me. Sisters who are strong in their faith helped me to keep trusting God, and strengthen myself through prayer and words from the Bible.

I felt great joy and my hope was renewed when I saw a sister, who suffered great pain for many years, restored the first love with her husband, and I saw my daily prayers for them answered. I was again reminded that our God listens to prayers, when I saw one other husband, who had an extra-marital affair and divorced his wife, once again wanted to propose to his wife, having been completed transformed into a good father and a good man.

Many seemingly bad things happened in this past year, but they all led me to realise that our Heavenly Father is always looking after me and those around me. When I was angry, I returned to my addiction, and did many things beyond my own comprehension. When I wouldn’t listen to any hymns, our Heavenly Father gave me a song written by a pastor from Los Angeles who had no musical training which gave me a heavy blow to bring me back to life. November the 4th was my cousin’s birthday, but she had returned to her heavenly home. On her birthday this year, I was given an opportunity to be reborn. My cousin was taken from us due to pancreatic cancer when she was 29 years old. When she was in greatest pain, she remained strong in her faith, and I saw that the Lord Jesus had given her sufficient grace. He had taken her home, away from the sufferings of this world.

Lastly, I want to finish with this song that inspired me to repent. I hope that, through the Father’s grace, I can accomplish the work He has entrusted me in this world, and with a peaceful and joyful heart await the day the Lord Jesus returns, or when He takes me home. I hope that you too can get to know and follow this wonderful saviour, the Lord who has brought me through my four rebellious periods. You must reconcile with God, let Him restart your life, and He will carry you through fierce storms and waves, and every peak and trough. He will never forsake you, because His love never changes.

Jesus, I pray that You will cover me with Your great power;
Your words once again strengthen me.
Despair and loneliness never stop chasing me,
and yet You are my shelter through every stormy gale

Jesus, only You can understand my sorrow.
You nail-pierced hands comfort me, embrace me,
Wipe my tears, heal my pain,
Through faith open my eyes again.

Indeed there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
The difficulties I experienced in the past
show me Your faithfulness all the more.
I have learned there is a time to keep and a time to cast away.
I choose to believe in Your beautiful and never-changing promises.

Jesus, thank You for guiding me all the way.
You walk with me on the way of the cross.
You walk before me to encourage me not to back down,
Because you have chosen me before the foundation of the world.

Indeed there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
The difficulties I experienced in the past
show me Your faithfulness all the more.
I have learned there is a time to keep and a time to cast away.
I choose to believe in Your beautiful and never-changing promises.

Your will is exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think.
Even though I can not see clearly at this time,
You will surely lead me to an abundant and spacious land.
Your grace is always sufficient for me.

Indeed there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
The difficulties I experienced in the past
show me Your faithfulness all the more.
I have learned there is a time to keep and a time to cast away.
I choose to believe in Your beautiful and never-changing promises.

I have learned there is a time to keep and a time to cast away.
I choose to believe in Your beautiful and never-changing promises.
I entrust all of my life in Thy hand

不变的应许 Unchanging Promise
Music/Lyrics/Vocal: 李蔼儿 Brenda Li

收听 不变的应许

Translated by : Geoffery Liu 

Ocean of Drugs

I often listen to Dreamland Children’s Bible Stories with my son. I would like to share two very touching real-life stories with you.

“I’m No Longer Man in a Metal Cage” tells of someone who has been bound by drugs for 14 years. His name is Hong Zheng Dao. Once he fell ill with the flu and a friend introduced him to drugs, and that little try completely ruined him. Every time he felt tired or sick, he went for drugs. He was only found out to drug addicted when he had an accident from taking drugs. After he recovered, his family sent him to a rehabilitation centre. After receiving rehabilitation treatment, Zheng Dao thought he was cured of drug addiction. He went home happily, fully confident that he was no longer dependent on drugs.

To his surprise, soon he started his drug abuse again. His whole body was covered by needle holes, part of his body was gangrenous, and whenever he had a craving, he couldn’t stop himself from smashing things like a wild beast. His mother, in desperation, made him a metal cage and locked him up to stop him from going for drugs again. But the metal cage may be able to restrain him, it could not restrain his drug-controlled heart. Once he broke a metal bar and escaped. While his body found satisfaction in drugs, his heart was filled with guilt and pain. His mother reinforced the metal cage. Zheng Dao’s brother didn’t want to see him spending his whole life in a metal cage. One day, his brother got a gospel rehabilitation leaflet and urged their mother to send Zheng Dao to Taiwan Operation Dawn Gospel Rehabilitation Centre. Their mother hesitated for a long time, but eventually decided to give him one last chance.

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Edge of Death

The adage “To seek beauty is a woman’s instinct” has led me through an endless abyss of pain.

When I was 15, my mind had been deeply influenced by the TV shows, movies, entertainment magazines and fashion trends I had been exposed to; I wrongly believed that being tall and slim was the only aesthetic standard. In fact, I had been an athlete who maintained a healthy weight. Because of these wrong values, I ignored my height and frame and blindly pursued a continual quest to reduce my weight. I was obsessed. My moods fluctuated with my weight daily.

Like so many before me, I chose the worst and most ineffective way to lose weight – trying not to eat anything! In fact, with continuous lack of adequate nutrition, the body accumulates fat causing weight gain. Lack of proper nutrition also seriously affects the whole body, bringing more ill health. This includes pre-mature aging, memory loss, bulimia, anorexia, stomach/gastric problems, infertility, depression and so on. I also completely abandoned the basic health principles my primary school teacher had ingrained in us: “Early to bed and early to rise, take a good breakfast, a full lunch, a moderate dinner, balanced, nutrients, six to eight glasses of water, not neglecting to exercise and take good care of your mood.”
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Abundance in My New Life

Before I came to know the Lord Jesus, I had no self-control during my youth, but yielded to peer-pressure.  I liked street racing and the thrill of winning races.  Whenever I felt bored and empty, I would ask my friends for a street race.  As I did not abide to traffic law, I simply did not care of other people’s safety.  Although I had a few car accidents, had scratched other cars, and even had been reported to the police station, these did not stop my ego of unsafe driving.

I enjoyed late night gatherings with my friends after supper despite my whole family’s worries about my safety at late night.  Whenever a major festival came, I joined and stayed at wild parties until 4 or 5 in the morning and came home with a pungent smell of cigarette.  In the parties, I watched my friends smoke heavily, get drunk, and have short-term affairs with partners.
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The Path of Grace

In June 2011, Ruo Xin and I, together with our 2 years old son, arrived in Singapore, where he spent 3 years as an oversea student. Ruo Xin was called by the Lord to be equipped at Singapore Bible College and majored in Master of Divinity.

Upon arriving at our new home, both of us wished that we could  withdraw the lease. The building was 15 years old. With both my parents living with us at the time, the kitchen, living area and all rooms looked very messy. We were quite upset, as we had already signed up the lease for one year. We first learnt about this apartment from a website. After an inspection conducted by my uncle, we decided to take it. At that very night, I prayed to the Lord before going to sleep. I remembered my prayer went like this: We and other brothers and sisters from Living Water Assembly have prayed for our accommodation here for months. How come we ended up with this one? I fell asleep right after praying. Read More