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Redeem The Time for Life Is Short!

By Tan Teck Shi

Teck Shi (1st from left) with fellow Gracians in the Judean wilderness. The group joined the Jerusalem University College for a study trip to Israel in 2018.

In the course of my work as a family physician, I’ve seen first-hand how serious illness and growing old are realities of life.

I encounter this too in my own life. As part of the ageing process, my body has its fair share of aches and pains. Whenever my body complains, I’ve often sought much comfort in 2 Corinthians 4:16, which I’ve always thought speaks more to older folks like myself:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Those who are part of a weekly jogging group I’m in will know that because of my knees, I have downgraded from jogging to walking.

However, the fact is that illness can strike anyone, both young and old—the only difference is timing. We do not know how long or short our time on earth is, only the Almighty knows.

Illness strikes

In early May, my daughter Michelle, suddenly developed a high fever, slight cough, and general tiredness. Initial tests ruled out Covid-19 and dengue. After six days, her fever and cough symptoms worsened, and she began feeling chills, severe headaches, and felt like vomiting.

As she was under quarantine, Michelle was sent to the hospital by ambulance, with the staff in full PPE. The sight of the ambulance staff in their full PPE gear unsettled even me and that’s when the stress of the Covid pandemic really hit home. She was later diagnosed with lobar pneumonia, or chest infection, and put on an IV drip for dehydration and antibiotics. She stayed in the hospital for four days, and she was discharged and quarantined at the hotel for another 16 days.

As we were not able to physically see her, we kept in touch with her through WhatsApp video calls, and I was thankful to be able to spend time as a family and have dinner together “virtually” every night. After about three weeks, she was finally home, and we praise God for her recovery.

Through this period, I kept the prayer meeting group posted on the developments. I am grateful for the prayers, and WhatsApp messages checking on Michelle’s condition and offering encouragement.

As members in church, we are called to show genuine love and care for one another.

In Romans 12:10, we are called to “love one another with brotherly affection” and to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (v.15).

In the body of Christ, James 5:16 says “… pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working".

We should continue to watch out for one another, pray together and exult one another. We can also attend the church prayer meeting virtually via Zoom. Praise God that we can pray for one another’s infirmities.

Temporal bodies

My daughter’s recent illness and my own physical condition have made me reflect on our limited time on earth.

Our current bodies are just described as “tents” in 2 Corinthians 5:1. Tents are meant to be temporary, are fragile, prone to leaks when it rains, and easily torn. So while we can exercise, watch our diets, see our doctors regularly—even the best specialists—and take our medications, illness can still strike anytime.

As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “we walk by faith not by sight”. We trust God even for our health, for our current bodies are only meant to be temporary, regardless of what we do.

But while our physical condition may deteriorate, our inward man is being renewed to be Christ-like, as we dwell on God’s word, digesting it and letting it change us through the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Redeeming the time

Ephesians 5:15-16 also reminds us to be careful to “walk not as unwise but wise” and “make the best use of time because the days are evil”. We redeem the time by making it our life’s aim to please God, for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 9-10).

This includes persuading those who do not know Christ that knowing Christ personally is the only way to escape the terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11a). Ever since I became a Christian, I have always felt an underlying desire to share Christ, and my hope is that the same desire resides in you too.

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