How the pandemic changed my life

Posted on 7 Jun 2020 by Joy Gan

We take a lot of things for granted sometimes — that we’ll get up every day and the week will look roughly the same – fetch the kids to school, cook the meals, work part-time on the side, run a Bible study midweek, and do some ministry at church. Well, at least that’s what my life used to look like.

Late December 2019, the 1st novel coronavirus case was reported in Wuhan, China. Since then, 5.2 million people globally have been infected, and more than 335,000 people have been killed. Malaysia began detecting its cases in January 2020 and on the 18th of March, the government declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) to contain its spread.

Everything now has gone online — the kids’ schooling, Bible studies, church, and parent council meetings. No more visiting friends across the border or interstate, no more traveling overseas easily, no more going out as a family for exercise. Life is now filled with lots of zoom meetings, using the laptops, going out only when absolutely necessary to get essentials, and wearing a face mask everywhere.

Besides one’s freedom severely restricted, I really miss being able to meet up with people over coffee, seeing friends face to face, giving a hug to those I care for, and doing whatever I like without any constraints or concerns of catching the virus. Yes, the pandemic has certainly changed my life.

Providentially, just before the MCO was announced, we held a women’s event at church on the topic “Truly Woman – God’s good design”. One of the electives we ran was on “Prayer and Suffering”. Perhaps one could say God prepared me for the pandemic by giving me this topic to think through and share with others. As I was reflecting on why a pandemic resulting in such global devastation happened, some questions came to my mind. Is God judging the world? Is it to teach us that we’re not in control and God is? Is it to drive us to depend on Him more? Is it to humble the nations and remind them to repent before it’s too late? Is this to drive Christians to keep being a light to the world?

Admittedly, I still don’t have all the answers. But what I shared at the elective on “how to suffer well” is something I’d like to share with you.

1. Know God truly as you spend time in His Word.

Before the pandemic, I was always rushing from one thing to another. My life had a packed schedule, and I’d always be up and about. Reading God’s Word was something I would only do because I had a Bible study to prep for.

Now with the MCO, I’ve been able to spend more time in God’s Word, relishing more opportunities to open the Scriptures and being reminded of God’s character, learning from the lessons of the Israelites, being thankful to Christ for his great sacrifice and grateful for the transforming work of the Spirit.

2. Lay aside our sin, endure and look to Jesus.

The pandemic has exposed my idols, my pride, my ungodliness and my general “living for myself-ness”. God has used each time I meet up with the mums’ growth group, hear the Sunday Sermon, read the Bible personally or with the kids, to hold fast to Christ alone and to yield to His rightful Lordship over my life. Although it’s been painful that God keeps exposing my sin, I’m thankful for His Spirit and Word that enables me to endure as I look to Jesus, my great high priest.

3. Love God’s church

My Zoom sessions with the Mums Growth Group discussing Sunday sermons (left) and our regular Tuesday meetings (right)

The pandemic has allowed me to meet new friends in the Mums Growth Group, to reach church members via hangout/zoom whom I normally wouldn’t have much time for, and to serve in a different way (well, at least until the MCO is lifted!). Even now, I’m trying to work out how to teach a Sunday School lesson to kids in our church via video (and if you know me well, I totally dislike being in front of a camera or video). Nonetheless, I’m praying for God’s wisdom in adapting to a different way of serving and loving God’s church, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn new things.

4. Share the gospel

The pandemic has also reminded me that life is fragile and uncertain. It has put people’s lives back on the agenda and helped me see the need to make the most of every opportunity to share Christ, who is our only comfort and hope in this life and the one to come. It has meant actually scheduling time in the calendar to connect back with old friends, or seeing how I can help them practically, and then asking God to use those opportunities for His glory.

Friends, there are 2 ways the pandemic can change us. We could descend into a pit of despair and drown in self-pity, or we can remember God’s sovereign hand in everything, and know that He works all things according to His plans and purposes, for the good of making us more like His Son.

May we always look to Christ, our salvation, strength and hope, and may we serve Him faithfully till the end.

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”- 1 Peter 4:7-11

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