Jordan Kwok—Newcastle, UK

Hallelujah! Thank the Lord for His immense love and grace toward His children. May His name be proclaimed among the nations, and may His glory be magnified.

The Bible tells us that God disciplines, chastens and refines His children, those whom He loves dearly (Heb 12:7; Rev 3:19a). He allows us to go through trials to lead us to repentance so that we can become holy; to purge us of our impurities so that we may become offerings in righteousness; and to test us to see if we are indeed faithful to Him (Rev 3:19b; Heb 12:10; Mal 3:3; Zech 13:9). Only through suffering can we enter the kingdom of God, and only through persecution can we live a godly life in Christ Jesus (Acts 14:22; 2 Tim 3:12).

However, we should not be dismayed, because if we can withstand these tests of faith by drawing strength from Jesus our Lord and King, then our robes will be washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. Then we can dwell before the throne of God, to serve in His temple day and night, and receive eternal blessings. The hope of our Christian faith will finally be realized (Rev 7:14–17)!

I would like to testify of God’s love and abidance during a recent test of faith concerning my health. Not only did God reaffirm and strengthen my faith in Him through this trial, but He also taught me to value opportunities to serve and draw close to Him while there is still time.

A TEST OF FAITH

In February 2019, during a routine check-up with my general practitioner (GP) for minor ongoing health issues, some abnormalities were found in my blood test results. The levels of various cells and other substances were out of the normal range, and my blood pressure was unusually high (160/100, when it should be below 120/80). A subsequent urine test revealed further problems—protein and blood leakage. The doctor asked for my symptoms, including those he had already been monitoring. We came up with a long list: chronic coughing, chest pains, lower abdominal pains, night sweats, passing of urine five to ten times a night, coughing or vomiting blood, loss of appetite, and drastic weight loss (around one stone, or six kilograms.)

After further analysis and consultation with specialists, my GP informed me that I had reduced kidney function, comparable to that of a seventy-seven-year-old. He was very concerned and pushed me to undergo more tests, such as an X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound. I was reluctant because of my fear of needles and medical procedures. However, the doctor strongly recommended that I undergo these tests and warned that I could have chronic kidney disease or even kidney cancer. Further testing would enable him to ascertain the right diagnosis and treatment.

FINDING PEACE IN GOD

It was surreal to hear that, at the age of twenty-seven, I could potentially have cancer. However, I thanked God then that my heart felt great peace. After prayer, I did not doubt that God would be beside me every step of the way and that His beautiful will was behind everything. The Holy Spirit caused me to recall God’s word:

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (Phil 1:21–23)

When Paul wrote this passage, he desired to depart and return to Jesus. However, he accepted that if it were God's will for Paul to remain, he would continue serving the brethren, growing with them in the joy of faith (Phil 1:24–26). Both options were beautiful. This passage reminded me that there could only be two wonderful outcomes from my situation. If I pass away, I could return to God and finally realize my hope as a Christian; if I remain, I could continue serving God in this world for however long He wanted.

The Book of Job describes God as the Creator, the Almighty, the King of the heavens and the earth, and the One who governs all things.

Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:9–10)

Indeed, if we believe that God is the Creator, then we would acknowledge that our lives are in His hands. If our lives are within His control, then why do we have to worry? God created the universe; to guide and comfort us in our times of difficulty is not a big task for Him.

Other than recalling God’s word and the testimonies of others, I could only attribute the peace I felt to God Himself. I thank God—I had learned from past trials that to truly rely on God’s strength and faithfulness, I must pray. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was incredibly weak—weak in faith, weak in prayer, and weak in my reliance on Jesus. In that moment of uncertainty, only Jesus could help me. Through prayer and fasting, my doubts were erased and I felt the overwhelming sense that God was beside me. I was once again reminded of God’s love for me, that I was His child, and that no matter what happened, all things worked together for good to those who loved God (Rom 8:28). Despite my unbelief and my weakness, I resolved to rely on Him for strength and not succumb to this trial.

ENCOURAGED BY BROTHERLY LOVE

On March 6, 2019, I went to my local hospital for scans and tests. Though the doctors could not reveal much, I was constantly reminded of God’s abidance during this period. Physically, it felt like I was walking through this alone, but I knew in my heart and mind I had the prayers and companionship of my brethren, family, and wife.

Thank God, several brothers and sisters encouraged and prayed with me. God indeed provides everything we need in every trial. Not only has He given us His word, His Spirit, His abidance, and His love, but He has also provided for us His church. The church is a remarkable thing: not only a collective of people redeemed by Christ’s blood, but also a family with a united heart and goal to seek the Lord Jesus. We all face our tests and trials, but we go through suffering for the edification of others.

At the same time, there is nothing new under the sun—everything we face has happened to someone else before us. No matter how young or old we are, there is always something to learn from our brethren. And so, there will always be companionship and support during our difficult times. However, whether or not we accept encouragement from others is a different matter—it can be a test of humility within our hearts. Are we going to go through our trials by ourselves, by our own strength? Or will we rely on God and His church to overcome our weakness?

The encouragement and prayers of brethren reaffirmed that, indeed, there is love in God’s church, as well as the sense of mutual care and mutual faith. One new insight that I gained was that some, especially our close friends and family, worry much more about us than we do. Not only should we accept encouragement in times of trouble, but we need to have the courage to comfort those who love us. Sharing how we have been encouraged by God’s word, our faithfulness towards God will bring comfort to those around us.

GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT

On March 21, I met a consultant nephrologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for some discussions, analysis, and further routine tests. My symptoms had yet to subside, and my blood and urine test results were as before. This consultant echoed much of what my GP said, but the way he delivered his message was quite alarming. However, as he spoke, I felt as though the Lord, my Shepherd, was walking me through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4). God indeed comforts us in our times of difficulty. He is always there, and He lives inside our hearts. Whether or not we recognize and submit to this is a different matter. We must realize that we indeed are weak—we cannot walk through this valley by our own means. But with God in front of us, what do we have to fear? Do we fear evil? Or do we fear God?

After reviewing my test results, the consultant booked me in for an urgent kidney biopsy to be done within two weeks and handed my case over to a more senior consultant. My biopsy was booked for April 5. Since I have a fear of needles, the thought of having a huge needle going into my back was frightening. As the date of my procedure loomed closer, I prayed for God to comfort my heart. Once again, God reminded me of His word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9a). In this passage, Paul describes imploring God to remove the thorn in his flesh (2 Cor 12:7–10); I was going to have a "thorn" in my flesh too! But what is most comforting is God’s reply to Paul. No matter what role we play in church, or our financial and career status in society, we are only human, full of weaknesses. Paul boasts about his weakness. In our bodies of flesh, we will inevitably face difficulties like illness, pain, and suffering—but God's grace transcends all. Nothing is outside of God's control. Though we may suffer physical and even spiritual harm, God’s grace is sufficient. God can turn these hardships into opportunities for us to grow spiritually (Rom 5:3-4), enabling us to depend on Him all the more, just as Paul did (2 Cor 12:9–10).

Praise God, the biopsy went smoothly, and both the nurse and the consultant helped me to overcome my fear of needles. A sister suggested that, since I may be allowed to play my music in the theatre, listening to hymns during the procedure might help. However, everything happened relatively quickly. If you ever have to undergo a biopsy, it may sound scary, but it is not as bad as you think. After some bed rest, my blood pressure was still raised (around 160/100), but all my other vitals were stable, so, thankfully, I was discharged that evening.

Consultation on the biopsy results was on April 17. Although the possibility of cancer was still there, my wife and I were comforted by the fact that the hospital did not contact us earlier—had the signs pointed in that direction, my case would have escalated faster. Nevertheless, we were ready for any outcome, without expectations. The senior consultant told me the news: I have a chronic autoimmune kidney disease, where my immune system attacks my kidneys, resulting in reduced kidney function. Not only this, but my body was severely deficient in vital vitamins and minerals, which explained many of the symptoms I was experiencing. Thank God, had my high blood pressure not been diagnosed, my condition would have gone undiscovered, exposing my kidneys to high risk. The doctor prescribed me some medication to treat the kidney disease, and some supplements to address the other symptoms. God’s grace indeed is sufficient.

WORK WHILE IT IS STILL DAY

What I learned through this whole experience is that life is short. If the diagnosis had been cancer, then my life expectancy would have shortened. This is what we must realize today. The Bible reminds us that our lives are nothing but a vapor, like a passing shadow, and withering grass (Jas 4:14; Ps 144:4; 1 Pet 1:24). We are on earth for but a moment.

The beloved hymn, Work for the Night is Coming,[1] relays a strong message: work while it is day, because when the night comes a man can no longer work. Jesus conveyed this message in more detail when He healed a blind man using His saliva and clay. During this miracle, he said to His disciples:  

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:4–5)

Today, we must bring our faith back into the context of why we are here. Our Omniscient God has sent His children into the world, at various points in space and time, to serve Him and fulfill His will, and to shine His light into the darkest corners of men’s hearts. Wherever we are, there are always opportunities to preach and glorify His name. However, we often become distracted by various worldly cares—our hearts become infiltrated with desires and idols, luxuries, and comforts. Through this experience, God brought my focus back to the one essential thing in life: God Himself.

While we have the opportunity, while it is called today (Heb 3:13), let us endeavor to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deut 6:5). In our hearts of worship, let us hear His voice and follow Him more diligently (Jn 10:27). In our daily lives, let us put Jesus at the forefront of our minds, to consider Him (Heb 3:1) and remember all He has done for us. In our servitude, let us strive to become more faithful and humble (Mt 25:23; Lk 17:10).

Serving God is a grace; not everyone has the opportunity to serve in the way they want. Some may yearn with all their hearts to serve God but never get the chance. So while it is today, let us treasure this grace in which we were called (Eph 2:8–10). While we still have the chance, let us urgently work on our weaknesses, relying wholly on the Lord’s strength, as the sons of God (Rom 8:13–14). Who knows what tomorrow may bring, so let us turn our hearts back to God today (Zech 1:3, Joel 2:13).

May all praise, honor, and glory be given to our heavenly Father, for He is good. Amen.


[1] By Mrs Harry Coghill (1836–1907).

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