But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this
all-surpassing power is from God and
not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Glorious Turning Point

Twenty-20 surely began differently for us. We welcomed baby Nathan at the end of 2019 after Christmas, I had a month of confinement which ended with me and Wei En having bad episodes of diarrhea and vomiting respectively, and for the first time since we came to Singapore, we had our own reunion dinner without our parents and relatives.
Without making the road trips back to our hometowns in Malaysia, this Chinese New Year definitely felt quieter and less festive. We barely gave out any ang bao, but time flies when you are managing a newborn. I felt more tired than I were during confinement because of the regular breastfeeding and having to managed Nathan’s cries, but this is not more draining than what was to come.

My elder sister returned home after spending a few days in KL with our family. We were excited for her return, as she would be able to tell us how the rest of our family was doing back home. CNY is a big thing in our family – we will spend more time together as our siblings from all over the places will gather in our parents’ house and the kids will flip the house upside down. It is also during CNY that we get to talk more with our nephews and nieces, and know how’s everyone doing. Most importantly, my parents are happiest when they see everyone back, and they will feed us continuously with their home-cooked food and tidbits.

However, as soon as sister got back from Malaysia, she turned unwell. She started having high fever and cough. In our family, she is one of the strongest in health and we rarely see her coming down with illness requiring more than 2 days of absence from work. But this time it was different. After visiting the company dr, she was still coughing badly, and had high persistent fever for coming to 3 days. I could tell that she was not getting better and it would be better to see a doctor to re-assess her condition. She took my advice and went to the GP again. Few hours later when I texted my sister to find out how she was doing, she told me that they were referring her to A&E, and an ambulance was already on the way to pick her at the clinic. In my heart, I was thinking it could be pneumonia, and a chest x-ray would be necessary to confirm it, and the best place she could do it on a Sunday would be A&E. Knowing my sister, I knew she would feel a bit scared because in her entire life, she had never entered a hospital for treatment, and she probably had never imagined herself being transported to a hospital via an ambulance.

Immediately, I packed a few of her essentials, kway teow soup, and took a Grab car to the hospital to meet her. Hubby and Joshua were in church, and I figured they should not come along as Wei en had to take care of Joshua, while I entrusted baby Nathan with my newly hired helper. At this juncture, Singapore was already picking up many coronavirus cases and all hospitals were geared up in their efforts to reduce transmissions. No children were allowed to come into the hospital for visitations, and strict hours of visitations were imposed.

As I reached A&E, I tried to identify when my sister was. My heart skipped a beat when they brought me to P1 area. Sometimes, my medical knowledge can let me think about the worst. My experience of working in hospital informed me that it was not good, for P1 is a resuscitation area and only very ill and unstable patients are placed there – for resuscitation and close monitoring. The walk to P1 area felt so long. Finally, I saw my sister. She was on nasal prongs, her breathing was laborious, and she felt lost. I looked at her vitals – her blood pressure was low, her heart rate was beating above 100 bpm, and her saturation was not too optimistic thus the nasal prongs for oxygen. The doctor updated me of her condition. I saw her chest x-ray and was horrified – bilateral consolidations in her lungs. In another words, both of her lungs were infected, and she was having a severe pneumonia! I was wondering how on earth someone healthy like her, with no other medical condition, could get such a bad infection in the lung. My sister asked me to explain what was going on and I did. This place was foreign to her; the condition was foreign to her; the treatment she was going to receive which involved injections etc were unfamiliar to her; hospitalization was something so remote in her mind before this, the billing issues, eligibility of subsidies and the medical insurance coverage were not something she had thought about. 

Subsequently, she was sent to the general ward for pneumonia treatment. I comforted her that it could be nothing worrisome, just let the healthcare workers do their job and we pray for her speedy recovery. For the first time in her life, my sister stayed in the hospital. That evening, I informed the church and asked for prayers on behalf of my sister. We need prayers to tie us through this, and I felt sad leaving my sister alone in the hospital overnight.

Over the next few days, she did not seem to improve. I could see that her breathing got more effortful, she was getting more tired, the fever never went away. No positive cultures to pinpoint the cause of infection, and the treatment remained empirical. Each day, the oxygen support continued to escalate. From a medical point of view, I knew I had to prepare her mentally by telling her what to expect if things continued this way. I needed to tell her she might need more invasive therapy such as mechanical ventilation in ICU in this acute period until her lung capacity improved.

As an ICU pharmacist, I have taught my juniors about intubation many times, and gave mini-talks on ICU care. But when I had to tell my sister about it, explained to her the procedure and what to expect, it was actually very heart wrenching. I remember my sister telling me she really hoped to avoid going into ICU. It was heart-breaking for me, I did not expect my sister’s condition would be this bad. It was very heart-breaking, because I felt so painful for my sister for having to go through all these invasive treatment but they were all necessary. It was very heart-breaking, because although I know God is sovereign and will surely heal my sister, my heart still feel painful for my sister. At this time, my parents were already in Singapore. They were worried about my sister and thus drove to Singapore to visit. They were saddened by how sick my sister was, and was asking me a million of questions such as if she was given the best care, were the doctors and nurses competent, why did my sister end up this sick, could it be coronavirus etc etc. I confessed, I was overwhelmed by my sister’s illness and the need to manage my parents too. I could not lie to my parents about my sister’s condition, yet I could not tell them the possibilities of what could happen because they would be so so sad. 

My heart sank on the night I told the doctors I felt that my sister would be better if she could be sent to ICU. I have seen my sister deteriorating over the days, I have seen how hard she tried to catch a breadth and it only became harder, I have seen how tired my sister had become – it was as if she had been running a long marathon on the bed. She was so breathless, struggling so hard to remain conscious and respond to our calls… The medical team also made the decision to refer her for ICU care, as she was too unstable to be managed in the general ward. I assured her that putting the breathing tube in to replace her own effort of breathing would help her, she would not be so tired if she was on the ventilator. With tears, I prayed with my sister at her bedside, and we invited our mother to pray with us in Jesus name. The tears just fell uncontrollably as I prayed, though I know God would take care of my poor sister, my heart still felt so so sad. I entrusted my sister into God’s healing hands, and assured her that God would be by her side through it all, and so were we. I could tell that my sister was fearful, but at the same time, I could tell that my sister was calling upon God ceaselessly in her Spirit. With that, she was pushed to ICU.

She was pushed into the isolation room in ICU, and the ICU team was preparing to intubate her. I saw the familiar intubation kit, push carts, medications  – they felt so scary at that moment, because I knew they were going to be used on my sister. I asked them if I could have another 5 minutes with my sister before she would be totally sedated, the doctor kindly agreed but urged me to be quick as my sister was tiring out. I quickly ran into the isolation room. My sister was trying very hard to talk and she told me she felt so so cold. She was actually having a fever… I wept. I said another prayer for my sister, holding hers and my mother’s hands. I asked God for His abounding grace to be on my sister and He would give her the peace for what was to come, and that she could hear God’s loving voice despite the pain that was to come. I assured her that she is greatly loved by God, and God will not forsake her. I told her I love her – something I have never told her, and I thought there would never be an occasion I would say such thing. We then left the room, as the team of doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists, all fully-suited, went in to intubate her.

I have never cried so so much. My eyes were painful, my breasts were engorged, my body was so tired and drained from all that happened, my heart was sorrowful, and my spirit was praying ceaselessly that my sister would experience the individual calming interaction with God in this process.

My parents were shaken. I could tell that my outwardly-strong but innerly-vulnerable father was in despair, and he broke down in tears. My mother was weeping since the day my sister was admitted to the hospital, and more so when she was pushed to ICU for intensive treatment. They were still processing all that were going on, and the fear of potentially losing their precious daughter overwhelmed them. I could only comfort them, telling them that sister was in good hands, and Jesus would help our sister.

A few hours later, the nurse allowed us to visit my sister by standing at the glass door. I asked my parents to stay at the lobby to wait, for I knew they were not ready to see the condition my sister was in. In the ICU, I saw the familiar tubes and machines, but the unfamiliar sister. She must be feeling so uncomfortable with the breathing tube inserted through her throat, the feeding tube through the nostrils, the urine catheter, and the big catheter at the neck area. The propofol was running at 200 mg/hr, a very high dose of anaesthesia, but my sister was still struggling. The fentanyl was running at 100 mcg/hr, also a very high dose of analgesia. For someone who cannot even take alcohol well, the doses given to her were very high and she could still struggle – she must have felt so awful. I wanted to bolus a few more doses of propofol and fentanyl to end her struggle, but I realized I was not a pharmacist there but only a patient’s relative. The nurse kindly allowed me to enter with protective gears. I went into the room and came to my sister’s bedside. I surveyed her hands, legs, face, and every single part I could see – but there was nothing I could do. Having covered ICU as a pharmacist for so many years, I thought I knew all these stuff well, but the emotional aspect of dealing with an ICU patient who is your very own loved one, was not something I was well trained in. It felt so raw, so toxic, so awful, so helpless, and you could only pray and pray. I prayed with my sister, holding her hands that felt so cold. I kept rubbing her hands against mine to give her some warmth, but they still felt so cold. The ventilator settings showed ARDS lung protective ventilation, and I believe they would paralyze her later to totally knock her out. The doctor also prepped me for the worst, as they were considering ECMO, the last resort, if her oxygenation remained bad. I told God that I was not prepared to lose my sister, although heaven is a better place. I hope she stays, for now at least, if it fits into God's perfect plan.

That night, for the first time in my life, I asked my non-believing parents to pray to Jesus with me. We have been praying all these years for our parents to know Jesus, and I believe this is especially important to my sister. My sister has been a faithful child of God all this while, and I am sure this trial is not punitive but to reveal the great glory of God. Indeed, that night, I saw the glory of God as my parents humbled themselves and prayed with me. The forces of darkness was gradually broken through the cross carried by my sister. I could see the helplessness of my parents, they just hoped that our Lord could save her, even if it means they were to pray to Him. Indeed, the end of man is the beginning of God. 

I received a call from ICU early in the morning. An infectious disease doctor informed me that my sister was tested positive for coronavirus. I was stunned. Very, very, stunned. How could it be? She had no exposure with people who returned from China, neither did she travel there. How could it be possible? In addition,there were not many cases in Singapore at that time, and how would my sister contribute to the statistic? The doctor told me that they had started anti-HIV medication, Kaletra, on my sister, but this therapy was not proven as it was still in investigational phase. But they gave it to my sister for whatever its worth, as her condition was critically ill and unstable.

Soon after I put down the call, the epidemiologist called to get more information about my sister’s contact and travel history for the past 2 weeks. After that, MOH called. I remembered receiving multiple calls from so many parties – CID, MOH, and the hospital. They could call multiple times a day to get some information. As I updated my family about my sister, everyone was shocked. My eldest brother who was on the way to the airport to fly to Singapore could not board the plane, as he had to report himself to be screened, for he is a healthcare worker. His family was quarantined, so were my eldest sister and her family in KL. I was informed that no visitor was allowed to visit my sister from now. Moreover, MOH was sending ambulances to my house to bring us for screening. They would be sending me and baby Nathan to KKH, while my husband and parents were sent to TTSH for screening. However, they decided not to send Joshua and my helper for screening. Before we knew it, the ambulances were under my block and the people with protective gears were at my door. Things happened too quickly.

I asked them to give me a few minutes as I prepped my family on what’s going on. My parents were obviously fearful, and worried. They asked me what would happen. Actually, I also did not know what to expect – eg how long will we be sent away, will they admit us, will we be quarantined there or somewhere, what is happening to Joshua and my helper if none of us were at home over the next few days etc. However, all these seem trivial compared to the need to look to God. I asked all, including my non-believing parents, to be seated at the dining table. I prayed for my sister, that by God’s grace and perfect timing, she would improve and recover. As nobody can now visit her, she must have felt lonely in an unfamiliar place. I asked God to have mercy on her, and let her feel His presence more strongly than ever. I also prayed for my parents that peace be upon them, and assured them that  God would surely protect our family from the virus. I also asked God to watch over Joshua and my newly hired helper -- although I fought very hard to bring them along with me, it was rejected. I could only entrust them into God’s loving hands. After praying, we parted ways and went with the ambulances.

I updated our church for prayers while I was in the ambulance with Nathan. I believe God heard our prayers in tears and would not let us undergo trial that is beyond our capacity. Though I am weak and helpless, my heart had peace that transcends all understanding, only because I know God’s plan must be perfect, loving, and very good, no matter how horrible our circumstances are and how incomprehensible things could be. He will surely lead us with His pleasing and perfect will, only do not lose hope in Him. He is still in control. I were more certain than ever that God is bringing my parents closer to salvation through our circumstances.

As we reached the respective healthcare institutions, they assessed us and decided to admit me, Nathan, and Wei en; while my parents could be sent home/ quarantine center for quarantine after swabbing for the virus. Just then, I received a call from my helper – in her barely competent English. I could tell from her tone that she was scared, as she told me some police officers were outside my house and had asked to enter the house. I took a look at the home camera and saw a few people standing outside. I told my helper that nobody was to come in because only Joshua and herself were at home, and they should call me directly if anything urgent. Soon, I received a call and they claimed to be from MOH. They had come to issue home quarantine order (HQO) to Joshua and my helper. They needed them to sign the HQO. I told them Joshua and my helper are incompetent to sign – Joshua is not even 2 years old, and my helper cannot even read or write English. I asked to read the terms in the HQO – and was told that both of them were to remain in the master bedroom for 14 days. They could not come out, or would be deemed to breach the law. I was stunned. How about their meals? They said, “maybe you could ask the maid to order delivery”. I was very angry. How could I ask my helper who could not read English to order delivery? She does not have a functional data phone. Even if there is delivery, they cannot step out of the master bedroom to get the food from the door. I told them to leave my house, and I would settle the rest. After putting down the phone, I asked the Dr at A&E to please bring my son and helper along for screening. My son attends a childcare and is having some nasal symptoms, so is my helper. How could everyone be screened except them? Wouldn’t the parents from my son’s childcare be concerned knowing he stays with his aunty who has been tested positive with coronavirus? Feeling helpless, I asked God what should I do to help everyone, what should I do to help Joshua and my helper. God had mercy on me and showed favor through the doctor. The doctor assessed my situation and deemed it important to screen them as well. Immediately, he called the ambulance to go and fetch Joshua and my helper to KKH. We were then warded to test for the virus - Nathan and myself in one isolation room, while Joshua and my helper in the isolation room beside me. I could hear Joshua's voice from the other side of the wall, but I could not see him. However, I was very comforted - if God made it this way, this would be the best arrangement for us at the time being.

God did not give us another wave of trial. We were all tested negative for the virus. Wei en, Joshua, and my helper were discharged home on the 3rd day when two results came back negative for coronavirus. Nathan, however, had diarrhea and the dr wanted to keep him for further test to ensure it is not coronavirus. I stayed with him for another night before we were discharged and sent home by Certis. We received HQO for another week.

As I am writing this, my sister is still in the hospital isolation ward because of the persistent presence of virus in her body. She has recovered tremendously and is stable to be discharged from ICU. If God allows, may her virus be eradicated totally and she can be discharged home soon. She’s more loved than she knows, and more missed by us that she knows.

As I reflected on what happened, my heart is full of thanksgiving and I see the faithfulness of God through it all. When He allows trials into our lives, He is also walking with us through the trial, strengthening us with His promise. In fact, He has already prepared His children for the trial that is to come. God is right when He promised no temptation has overtaken us that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide provide a way out, so that we are able to endure it (1 Co 10:13). 

When my sister was heavily ill, the whole church was mobilized to pray earnestly for her and my family. God also convicted me that their prayers and my prayers in tears were not wasted. God will not despise a broken and contrite heart (Ps 51:13). In the entire process, God has sent many people to help and comfort us in many different ways – some outwardly, while some quietly assisting us in the background. I told my sister, perhaps I am made an ICU pharmacist for such a time as this, and for her. Over the years, God has equipped me with acute and critical care experiences so that I know what to expect, and able to work under pressure. If not, I believe I would have crashed when things happen one after another. God also builds my networks in ICU, and I have made good friends over the years. When my sister turned very ill, these friends and bosses offered help by giving me timely update about my sister, helping me to connect with relevant people who were taking care of her, and helped with my parents’ screening. They offered me words of consolations and prayed for our family.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremian 29:11)

I would never forget how God provided ways to comfort and encourage my sister while she was battling in ICU alone. The doctors told me that she was resisting against the ventilator as they weaned down the sedation, as such, they were unable to reduce much of the sedation due to her agitation. With high sedation it would also mean she would continue to depend heavily on the machine for breathing. I wished I could be there to talk to my sister and comfort her, but none of us could go near her due to our circumstances - we were all quarantined and nobody was allowed to visit her. As I prayed for my sister, God opened ways through a friend made in ICU at my workplace. She could help to send voice clips to the team of doctors in charge of my sister. I recorded an audio clip and wrote a message for my sister, mainly to comfort my sister and encouraged her to hold onto the hope in Christ. I also consoled her that all these would not be in vain, and God would use her suffering for God’s good intentions. I also told her that our parents were not resistant towards Christianity through her ordeal, and she needed to co-operate with the medical team by not fighting against the ventilator. Few hours later, I was told that my sister had listened to the voice clip, and she gave a thumb up. That night, I felt so encouraged and I believed my sister too. Indeed, God had mercy on us and He gave us signs of His continual presence. Over the next few days, the team told me that my sister was no longer agitated, it was as if she had calmed down tremendously and they were able to wean down the sedation. Her ventilator requirements also reduced day by day. Her condition was also improving. Indeed, when we turned to Lord, He who reigns above all will take charge and show us He is sovereign despite human limitations and helplessness. When nothing seems to work, pray. Prayers will truly move our loving Father’s hands.

Not only so, when crisis like this hit our family, our church brethren also stepped up and love us in every possible way. Some helped us with daily groceries; some helped by sending audio speaker to the hospital so that Christian songs and hymns could be played in the ICU room as my sister was all by herself; and some also helped to send the handphone and spectacle to my sister when she was no longer sedated and able to sit up. I am thankful that when the society was thrown in fear because of the increasing infected cases, it is such actions of love from faith in Christ Jesus that shines so brightly. In trial, the genuine love of brethren was so evident, and that was the best way to evangelize to my non-believing parents.  

As I recounted what happened, Wei En and I confirmed many things together. Just end of last year, we were praying how we could serve as a family unit, how could we be versatile in our serving despite having young children, and how we could continue to grow spiritually. I realized we are serving a family ministry. While I went to the hospital, ministering to my parents, and take care of my baby, my husband will look after Joshua so that I can focus on the things I need to do. When I was tired or received some setbacks while ministering to my parents, my husband would be there to support me by giving me the vision, and encouraged me by telling me how he had walked through similar route ministering to his once-devoted Buddhist cousin who is a Christian now. We also realized our perspective towards many things have changed because of the Gospel we received.

For example, before my sister was admitted to ICU, I was running between hospital and home at every 4-5 hours interval. I needed to rush home to express breastmilk or nurse my baby because I could not bring Nathan along with me. Sometimes, I could not come back in time because of circumstances. My milk supply was abundant during confinement, but it slowly decreased over time as I could not nurse regularly. However, I realized I was not as uptight as I used to be, when I first had Joshua. God had renewed my perspective that being able to nurse my baby, though important, was not more important than being there with my sister and my parents. I had decided, if my milk supply became insufficient, I would readily give formula milk and not feel any guilt about it. Nathan will grow up nonetheless, because it is not my milk but the Word of God in his life that matters – the Word of God makes him wise, not my milk. People asked me to avoid hospital as I have a newborn, the rising fear of coronavirus and risk of other infections in a hospital setting should be considered. Being a medically trained person, I totally understand the risk and the concern was not invalid. But strangely, I am not afraid. The perfect love of God drives out any fear – my sister needs me, more than anyone else, more than Nathan.

When we were in isolation in hospital, I was physically drained looking after Nathan all by myself. He cried every 2 hours, needed to be breastfed every 2 hours, and the diarrhea did not help the situation. Being in isolation means the nurse would not check on me regularly to reduce the risk of exposure to infection. At one point, I thought I was going to die from exhaustion. Looking back, it must be God strengthening me through my period of isolation with Nathan. I looked at Nathan who was sleeping in the hospital bed, he was only 6 weeks old. This scene felt so familiar, because Joshua was also hospitalized at a very young age of 2 months plus for meningitis.

It further dawn on me that our children indeed grow up in an era that is more turbulent and dangerous than before. I remember Nathan was inside my womb when I had to attend WORLD conference in Hong Kong, a place known for violence and unrest due to demonstrations. However, God preserved us nonetheless. Though both of them went through “much” in such a young age, God convicts us greatly through their encounters. Firstly, they are indeed remnants living in end times. Therefore, their focus cannot be worldly but on the kingdom of God. They have to preach the gospel even more earnestly than us, and do the work of Lord with the conditions given them. Secondly, these two sons do not belong to us, they belong to God. God, who brings them to life at such a time as this, will also raise them up – though we love them and care for them as parents, we can only entrust them to the Lord because He cares for them more than us. Thirdly, because they do not belong to us but Lord’s, they have to be sent forth for the gospel work. If not, they will be absorbed in the unnecessary worldly chase. Thefore, as parents, we need to teach them the Word of God and live a life of faith that is not abstract.

Through my sister’s illness, we further confirmed that God is indeed a timely God. He will not be a minute early, neither will He be a minute late. In the entire course of things, I witness a God who is so timely, such that His intervention will always bring about the results He intended. My parents would not be broken and humbled in the face of my sister’s ordeal, had God intervened and turned my sister around earlier; my parents would also be too devastated to even want to pray with me, if God had intervened much later. Indeed, who can fathom the wisdom of God? He is great beyond our knowledge, and He never disappoints.

In James 1:2-4, we are reminded to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God, it is a privilege and honour to be deemed worthy of this trial. Your promises give us strength in trying moments, it drives us to love genuinely so that people can see the glory of God through your people. You refine us through Your carefully-crafted encounters. May our faith be refined through your loving fire, and we emerge as your children with endurance, character, and hope in God.

Romans 5:2-5
Through him [Lord Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
To me, ICU will never be the same anymore. I can relate to what Pastor Vincent said, "In our world now, we cannot eradicate all kinds of viruses, we cannot have full righteousness, we cannot make others understand our most genuine weaknesses. However, when we experience this situation first-hand, we realise how real spiritual blessings are.” 

Thank God for the glorious turning point.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Is the Bible trustworthy?

It is no surprise that people these days do not place highest regard on Bible (Scripture). Instead, we place highest regards on what we can see and feel, and make important and critical decisions in life according to the acquired knowledge we have, our intuition, or information gathered over the Internet. Over the years, we see people in and outside of church moves from trusting the inspired Word of God to trusting non-Biblical resources, including themselves. While there are many reasons to this observation, I would like to share one reason why I was deterrent of the Bible.

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Being a self-acclaimed "intellect" myself, I used to struggle with many things about the Bible, especially when the Bible claims of things that do not reconcile with my acquired knowledge, feelings, or reasonings. In addition, I tend to wrestle with certain claims from the Bible when it challenges my scientific mind, some examples include the many phenomenon in the Bible like Joshua 10 "the sun stood still, and the moon stopped...." -- how can it ever be possible? How is the Bible  faultless, reliable, and errorless when there are many contradictions? These doubts towards Bible deepen as reports on "did the Red Sea really part?" and questionable fall of Jericho wall appear as archaeological findings unravel bits and pieces that do not quite echo what is recorded in the Bible. I used to struggle with passages like how Jesus cast out demons on a child (Mark 9:14-29). The reason being, in my view, the people during that historical time did not know that the boy was experiencing a seizure ( in clinical term), and I could easily abort it with a dose of anti-epileptic -- but Jesus stopped this "seizure" with His Word.

Image result for social media vs bibleOver time, I read less of the Bible, while exposing myself to other non-Biblical resources which I relate better with. They include my personal experience, sharings from others through various channels, what my spiritual mentors said and my feelings. I rarely go to God and ask Him to deal with the doubts I have of His holy book. It is no doubt that people do not read the Bible as much these days, for they do not trust the Bible enough to anchor all aspects of their lives onto it. As a result, when believers face problems, they follow what the Bible says when it is something they can trust, while following other methods when the Bible claims of things which they cannot really accept or trust.

How trustworthy is the Bible?

In 2 Peter 1:21, it is said, "for prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

This verse has huge implications on us if we believe it, for Peter is telling us that -- when the Bible speaks, God speaks.

Peter was a mere fisherman, how could his letters be the Word of God? Certainly, it is not what Peter said isolated-ly that mattered. Rather, it is what God was working through human agents like Peter to write those letters that mattered. The Bible is divinely inspired by God, in that Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) worked through human authors such as the apostles, prophets, and their distinctive conditions, such that the written words are the very Word of God. Not that human is errorless, but God, being errorless, did not allow human to err even with their finiteness. This echoes the "omni'" and sovereign attributes we know of God. Even the apostles themselves recognize each others' letters as authoritative, calling the letters Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). Therefore, the Bible is trustworthy because God remains the ultimate Author.

Being breathed out by God, the Bible is inerrant and trustworthy in its affirmations on faith and living, while not in particular seeking to affirm archaeological and scientific facts which bothered me for the longest time ever. In 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness."

I realized that in Joshua 10, the sun and moon appeared to stand still to Joshua at that point of time, it is as truthful as it seemed to him. When it happened, Joshua did not know the modern findings we will uncover today. Our current culture is different from that of Biblical times, and we carry our own perspective in reading the text. When we take this phenomenon reported in the Scripture as error, it is with respect to a reference point (e.g modern science). Description and reality can be very different. Similarly, description of the Red Sea parting and the reality parting of the Red Sea can be different. However, both are nonetheless pointing to the fact that God is intervening and working for His people. It is a matter of understanding the parts in light of the whole (the heartbeat of God), which is why we should not be impeded by the parts we do not know now, but continue to study the Word until we grasp the intentions of God in that text.

What about the contradictions in the Bible? 

The Scripture touches on historical and science-related matters, but it does not seek to affirm scientific infallibility. Similarly, the Bible recorded devil's speech or lies told by human such as Abraham's in Genesis 12 and 20, but it is not to affirm them. Neither does the Bible teach math like in 2 Chronicles, when describing the dimensions of the structures involved. It is not an archaeological, astronomical, mathematic, or medical book aim to teach in those areas. Nonetheless, the latter existed in history, reported in phenomenal language as truthful as they were to the author, yet it was not technical.

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Fundamentally, the Bible is not meant to teach everything it touches on (e.g history, geography, math, science...), but on our faith and living, as written by Paul, ".. for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness". The Bible is inerrant in its affirmations, using the prevailing literary convention of authors' time, with the referent being God's purpose of writing that text. In essence, the Bible drives us to act upon the Word (obey), not mere information provision. Because the Word is the authoritative Word of God, we are called to test and approve, and obey after having understood it.Using various phenomenas, the Bible teaches believers to be "thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17, 2 Peter 1:3), and is thus completely adequate for this purpose.

What then can I get from the Bible?

The Bible, inspired Word of God, is like a road map to God. It is not a dictionary. It gives you an approximation of who God is. For instance, if you turn right, you will get to the destination. But it does not give you the exact description of how nice is the turn. If you follow it, trust upon it, it will surely lead you to God.

A famous theologian Barth once said, "Faith in Christ means trust, agreement, and knowledge of God." Trust is the main driving factor - trust the record, trust the spoken Words of Christ, and trust that God is superintending in the process of forming the Bible despite limitations of human. The knowledge is not the main driving factor but one of the supporting structures.

How do we view the reliability of the Word of God determines how we will interpret the Word of God, which subsequently impact how we walk with God. Indeed, the Bible carries tension, and has difficulty we cannot explain, which is why Holy Spirit is given us to help us understand the Word.
"The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments..."(1 Corinthians 2:10-15).
Placing highest regard on the Scripture (Bible), though sound absolute and old-school, is nonetheless the most important way to safeguard our faith in Christ in a counter-Scripture era we are in today, where feelings and human reasonings trump.  For we are fallen creatures (Romans 3:23), none of our feelings, discoveries, advancement in science, and knowledge can be the perfect benchmark to question the trustworthiness of the authoritative Word of God. When confronted with discrepancies which we have yet to resolve convincingly, we should humbly admit that we do not have all information readily and are truly limited. But by God's grace and persistent wrestling with God, they may be made available or reconcilable in future. Moreover, we also read the Scripture with our current existential thinking which can be different shades from the writer’s, so is the way we all perceive and describe the world to one another. There is indeed a lot to study and explore in understanding what God is affirming through the Biblical text. 

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So God taught me one thing over time - when we cannot understand the Bible, or when the Biblical statements sound unreasonable to us - do not let our logics trump. Go to God, wrestle with Him, and study His Words diligently with the church. Slowly but surely, God will open our hearts and minds to know Him better through His very own Word. You may be surprised, the living and active God may correct your presumptions and understanding through the Scripture itself.  

It is no wonder that Moses called God's Word - Life. 
I come to realise, I get God and life through the Bible.

Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not idle words for you - they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess - Deuteronomy 32:46-47