SINGAPORE'S 56th NATIONAL DAY
Updated: Aug 7
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
I had the privilege to attend Singapore National Day parade on August 9, 2019. I took the photo of City Hall, all “dressed-up” for this special occasion. One year later, the nation could not celebrate her 55th birthday because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Only a small contingent of military personnel was involved in a parade on August 9, 2020. Never in the history of Singapore has the nation been dwarfed by a virus for so long, which is still ongoing.
What is God’s lesson for us? Let’s reflect on the sovereign power of God over the nations from the book of Job (Job 12:23). “Job shows that whatever is done in this world both in the order and change of things, is by God's will and appointment” (Geneva Study Bible).
We live in uncertain times. It is good to know that. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan or expect it to. How many plans have to be cancelled because of the pandemic? Even this year’s National Day Parade and subsequent celebrations had to be postponed to a later date in August. I had plans to take a group to Turkey in 2020 but that had to be cancelled. I know of people who are planning tours to Israel in 2022, and they hope that by then, the country will allow tourists to visit.
With or without the pandemic, we must always know that we live in uncertain times. The Bible is very clear in this aspect, as we read from the book of James:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (Jas 4:13, 14)
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (Jas 4:15)
We are to recognise our dependence on God, and to form all our plans according to His will. This is proper because we are wholly dependent on Him for life. “There is nothing on which the success of our plans depends over which we have absolute control; there is nothing, therefore, on which we can base the assurance of success but his favour” (Albert Barnes).
When life feels uncertain, it’s easy to doubt that God is really with us. But the same God who is with us during good times is the same God who is with us during bad times. Let us always remember: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Prov 16:9 NLT). Uncertain times will no longer be uncertain if God is in the plan.
Our Nation Today
What Singapore is today, is because of the Lord’s mercy and grace.
“He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away”
I am awed by this statement from Job. Job certainly knew God whom he had experienced in his troubled life. God showed His sovereignty clearly to Job. If it had not been for the Lord, our nation would have been overwhelmed by the communists in the 1950s. Back in those days, I saw soldiers setting up a roadblock in front of my house in Pasir Panjang when I was 7 years old. I was seated outside when an armed soldier came and asked me to go back in. The scene is still clear in my mind till this day.
In 1963, I witnessed a firefight (a brief intense exchange of fire between opposing military units) near the Pasir Panjang Power Station when Indonesian saboteurs were spotted in the sea. This was the year of Konfrontasi. Many of us were at Pasir Panjang Park that night and watched a boat burning, and soldiers firing at the boat from the Power Station. My most harrowing experience was the post-independence race riot in 1969. I recalled my brother telling me to keep the empty bottles upstairs and should anything happen, break the bottles and throw it at the crowd. Thank God there wasn’t any trouble in our area where we lived.
Beloved, thank God for peace in Singapore today. Let us not take our nation’s independence for granted. Thank God for making the nation great as Job says. God has given good leaders to govern this “Little Red Dot” and make it what it is today. This is God’s doing. Albert Barnes says:
“He has entire control over them. The sources of prosperity are in his hand, and at his pleasure he can visit them with famine, pestilence, or war, and diminish their numbers and arrest their prosperity.”
On this 56th year of Singapore’s birthday, we must pray for the new generation of government leaders taking our nation forward. The Bible says: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov 14:34). Singapore is a secular country, so it will fall on all the believers in Jesus Christ to have righteousness as a standard, and especially those who are Christians in the Parliament. If such righteousness is practised, the nation will be blessed. May the Lord help us to be blameless.
We pray for our elected leaders and all those in authority to steer the country wisely in the way that pleases and honours You, so that we may lead “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2:1-4).