Main Verse: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”Philippians 4:8
Auguest 2007. It was just a routine medical checkup and I had just collected my results. The nurse explained, “Everything’s normal, but your pancreatic tumour marker results are on the high side, above the acceptable range.” I blanked out. The doctor couldn’t give conclusive results but advised, “Repeat the test next month.” When he said backache was a symptom of pancreatic cancer, I began to worry as my lower back had been hurting for the past month.
On the bus ride home, tears fell quietly as I thought, “I’m only 25. What if I have cancer? How much longer do I have? Is there really life after death? Am I saved? Do I believe in the power of Jesus’ resurrection that, like the risen Christ, I’ll receive a new glorious body?” As the anxieties escalated, I feltGod’s prompting: “Jiamin, do you trust that I am good?” I searched my faith and found it weak. So weak.I felt sad that I didn’t trust God as much as I wanted to. I asked Him to forgive me for my lack of faith.Although the situation seemed scary, I could choose to be swept away by fears or choose to think about what is excellent, pure and true — to fix my mind on God’s character instead of the situation. Yes, God is good. Cancer or not, He remains good.
The apostle Paul went through many worrying situations that could have torn him apart. Since becoming a Jesus follower, Paul suffered much through shipwrecks, floggings and sleepless nights. Yet while writing to the believers in Philippi (Phil 4:4–9), while bound in chains, he encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord always, not to worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and with thanksgiving, to present their requests to God. Even though Paul was imprisoned, he talked about the Lord who is near, and whose peace will guard hearts and minds in Jesus. Instead of worrying, Paul urged the believers to think about whatever that’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. This is a paradigm shift. We can turn worries into worship because our assurance is in the God of peace, and not the situation we are in.
September came and I retook the tumour marker test. The results remained high, and so a CT-scan was scheduled for October. At the hospital, as the long needles and CT-scan contrast liquid invaded my bloodstream, whenever thoughts of cancer and death crept in, I shut them out by turning worries into worship. I sang “The Lord’s My Shepherd” in my heart, and was comforted by His presence. The scan showed a suspicious ‘cloud’ near my pancreas, so a retest was needed to focus on my upper abdomen. I was scared stiff. But I reminded myself that God is in control and I shouldn't be afraid. I shouldn’t worry as the results were not certain yet. Even if the results didn’t turn out well, God would help me fight my battle.
The results turned out fine in the end! The rescan revealed the suspicious ‘cloud’ wasn’t a tumour, but my intestines bunched up in a cluster! Changing out of the hospital gown, I fell on my knees and wept. It felt like a new lease of life. Although the two months of waiting for the truth about my health condition was awfully difficult, it broke me and drew me closer to God. It was during that trial that I experienced the sweetest intimacy with God, as I learned to turn my worries into worship of Him.
1. In what ways have you seen God take care of you and your concerns?
2. What are some worries you have? Why do you think you struggle with them? Take time to pray and surrender them to God in worship.
Read and reflect on these passages for more about God's character in the midst of challenging situations: Psalm 46, Habakkuk 3:17-19 & Luke 12:22-34
Memorise one of your favourite Bible verses about God’s character. Write it out, Instagram it, or save it as a voice memo. When challenges come, pray those words aloud and take courage in the power of His Word.
God, thank You for being excellent, pure, and true. When worries sweep over me, turn my thoughts towards You in worship, for You are bigger than all my troubles, and I place my trust in You. Amen.