Easter: God in the midst of Chaos

We all have to go through struggles in life and I have my share of troubles. But having been a Christian now for 30 years, I must say that my faith has helped me to pull through on many occasions. The fact that Jesus had to suffer on the cross is comforting as it shows me that God is not a faraway, impersonal entity that is unable to empathise with our suffering. The good news of Easter is the fact that it didn’t end with his death on Good Friday but with his resurrection to life again on Sunday.

We just had our Good Friday gathering yesterday where I delivered a talk on earthquake and tsunamis. I won’t go through all the things that I said. But essentially, in preparing for the talk, I found myself thinking once again about the issue of suffering and life. I shared some first hand stories from some of our friends who have gone to Japan to assist in the relief effort. One story was told by a Japanese Christian lady who had just lost her brother:

He picked up his daughter with his car, and they headed for his daughter’s child’s kindergarten. They made the fatal mistake of trying to pick up her child instead of escaping themselves and trusting the kindergarten to watch over the children. The schools in Japan are trained to protect the children in their care at the first sign of danger. So her child was already being taken to higher ground while they were headed for the kindergarten. Sadly, they got caught in the traffic jam that trapped many. As danger approached, the father ordered the daughter to get out of the car and seek safety in a nearby 3-story concrete building. She did so, but he was still determined to go to the kindergarten. The daughter relates the last words she heard from her father while talking over their cell phones were: “The water’s come!” and then he was cut off. The tsunami slammed into the car and swept it away. She has searched in vain for her father and their car, but has not been able to locate either.”

These heartbreaking stories bring home the fact that suffering and disasters happen to everyone and certainly, faith in God does not necessarily make us immune from disasters. This is something we have to grapple with as long as we live on this earth. Although the Bible has always assured us that God is always with us, it doesn’t promise us a life on a bed of roses. Instead, it promises that when trouble strikes, God comes alongside us to strengthen us so that we can ride through the storm.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

As I watch videos of the Tsunami like the one above, I am struck by several thoughts.

Firstly, I am struck by a sense of how small and helpless we humans really are. Disasters like these really do remind us of our mortality. When life is good, we might believe that we have control of our lives but when the very foundations under us begin to tremble, it really makes us realise how fragile life really is.

The other thing that really struck me is fact that at the end of the video, some people where running away from the flood waters only when it actually arrives at the doorstep. I really do hope that everyone in the video escaped to safety, but I am left wondering why they were hiding in their houses up till the last minute. Was it because they didn’t know the Tsunami was coming, or was it that they were trying to believe that it will not reach them?

Anyway, the good news for most of us in Singapore is that probability that we would ever be struck by a Tsunami is very very small. The worse kind of flood we ever get is like the ones we get at Bukit Timah after a heavy downpour. However, metaphorical Tsunamis are unavoidable in life. As a doctor, I am often confronted by patients who have been swept up by some sort of Tsunanmi in life. The prognosis of such conditions depend on many factors but principally those who do well are those with inner strength and good social networks. Certainly, those who are deeply religious tend to do better too.

As I watch the videos, I am reminded of a children’s song I used to sing as a kid in primary school which goes like this:

The wise man built his house upon the rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the wise man’s house stood firm.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the foolish man’s house went “splat!”

The song is based on the words of Jesus, who admonishes us to build our lives on a firm foundation, ready for the tsunamis of life when they hit.

Easter is much more than hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs. Easter is about one man in history who overcame death and promise that if we would give our lives to him, we too will take the same path he did and rise from death to new life. Easter is about new beginnings and the chance to start over again. It is about a God who loved us so much that he would give his only son in order to win us back to Him.

If you would like to discover the true meaning of Easter, may I invite you to attend one of the many Easter services that will be happening all round Singapore tomorrow. Perhaps someone has already invited you to one and you are still contemplating on whether you should go. Go lah, if anything else, it will really make your friend very happy. If you don’t have anywhere to go, you can consider coming for the Easter Service at my church tomorrow. Do write to me at [email protected] and I would love to meet up with you.

May you all have a meaninful Easter!


Venue: St John’s St Margaret’s Church
30 Dover Avenue (Opp Singapore Polytechnic)
Time: 10am (advised to come at 9.30am)