Trading Ashes for Beauty

Trading Ashes for Beauty

10pm on a Monday night and I was cruising back home in an Uber, tired from a day of work and an evening at class. I was watching the outside roll past like in a movie scene and I thought: How beautiful, this Singapore. How impressive, how well-planned, how attractive… and yet, how impermanent, all of these. I felt nothing for these things – a simple disinterest for the pursuit of these beautiful things in this life. As my interest started to die, I felt this deep longing for God rising up within me.

I knew that there was more, and as I asked this question, I felt a dissatisfaction within me and with the way I was living my life. I felt like I wanted and desired to do more for the things that matter most to me.

I think about the Rohingya people whom we spoke about in class, the wounded in Syria and the sick in Sudan… and I am stuck, because I cannot imagine what life must be like for those who live in extreme conditions. I wonder (quite morbidly):

What makes them live on, despite the harshness they face? What moves them to wake up each day and search for food or toil for a little bit of money, or to flee for safety? Will they ever be able to find meaning and purpose in life amidst their suffering? What makes them NOT give up on life? I believe that in arriving at this last question, I find my answer, that is, the value of life itself.

God, is there more for me than just waiting and hoping that my life will eventually fall into place?

Life must be so precious, that people would risk their lives to find it again. It is so precious that hopeless situations do not deem a life not worthy of living.

When I realise the preciousness of life, how can I not do anything?

Looking back, I realise that a certain hope in me dies whenever I question if suffering can ever come to an end – and if not – what’s the use of being concerned? This makes me wonder: Has this same feeling of hopelessness – a veil over our safe and secure lives – turned many of us to false blindness and inaction?

Corrinne May sings,
“I see the same side of the moon
That we’ll be looking on when the world turns blue
And know that time and space
Can’t come between me and you
We share the same side of the moon
And though you’ll never see all my tears shine through
I know I can’t be that far from you
If we’re both looking on the same side of the moon.”

We are not that that far from the ones in our world who suffer – not far enough to be untouched by them. Just as the veil of the temple was torn into two at the death of Jesus Christ, I ask that the veils of our hearts be torn; that we may come to realise that we are one with each other, just as Jesus has come to be with us. I pray that we will learn to see and savour the inherent worth of each human life, and see that every life has been paid for by Jesus on the cross. Christ has suffered, died and risen for every human being – such is the value of each human life itself! This gives me much hope and motivation to continue seeking God’s call in my life; to be obedient to each step He calls me to. Believing in a mission greater than myself gives purpose to my everyday suffering, my struggles and fights. Because I know that I am not a random person, I know that there is a purpose in my suffering, to glorify God in my suffering.

As for myself,  I am assured by the encouragement of God, setting me on the right path, and telling me to keep faith in my current season. I know that He is in control.

I pray to be a faithful disciple and steward of the time, resources and responsibilities that He has given me. As I continue to trade beauty for ashes, I trust that He has already planted the seeds, and out of the ashes they shall rise to bear fruit for others. I pray that I will allow God to love me and root my being in His Spirit – the source of all life and being.

Janice Toh
2018-02-08T08:27:44+00:00Discovering Self, Listening to His Call|