Written by: Rina Ong (Photo by: Joseph Koh)
How God stretched my faith
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, “You of little faith,” He said, “Why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
– Matthew 14:29–32
As I meditated over this passage, I reflected on these questions over my life: “How many times was I like Peter who was afraid to come out of the boat with Lord Jesus? How many times have I doubted God and His timing in my life? How many times have I trusted in what I can do more than what He can do?” And my answer to all these questions was, “Numerous times.”
In life, our faith is challenged in many ways. However when it is tested, none of us like going through hardship. As Christians, we know that God allows trials and tribulations in our lives to build our faith in Him and not in our own abilities. We often understand this truth, yet fail to connect it with our heart.
As a first-generation Christian, my greatest desire has always been to see my entire family come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. However, a huge part of me has always doubted this possibility.
In late November 2014, my maternal grandfather fell and was bedridden ever since. His legs no longer worked like they used to and they were constantly hurting. The situation was made worse since he couldn’t move around.
I vividly remember the time where I felt God asking me to pray for healing in my grandpa’s legs when I visited him. I obeyed but eked out a prayer trembling with fear, questions, and doubts. When I asked grandpa if there he felt any change after being prayed for, he replied that he no longer felt any pain in his knees! This was my first step in coming out of the boat to walk on the waters with Jesus.
In early December 2015, grandpa was hospitalised for suspected food poisoning. However, the diarrhoea persisted for a week. The doctors immediately sent him for various tests and he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
The doctors told me that my grandfather only had a few months to live because the cancer cells were spreading rapidly in his body. When I heard the news, I cried out to God in anguish, “Why God? This deadly thing called cancer? No, this is just a dream. It can’t be true.”
For two weeks, I visited grandpa daily. There were several times my friends — especially from the Christian community — visited him and bought tonic for him. We would often pray for God’s peace to be upon him. I would always take the chance to ask my grandpa if he felt anything after being prayed for, and he would always reply with a single word, “Peace.”
On the morning of 1st December 2015, a still, small voice commanded, “Lead your grandpa in the sinner’s prayer,” As I processed the sentence, I felt like God was saying to me, “Would you come out of your boat and walk on the waters with me? Would you put your trust in me and not in your own abilities?”
Amid the lies and deception that were raging in my head, I chose to listen to God by inviting my grandpa to recite the sinner’s prayer. I remember texting my friends and requesting for them to pray alongside me as I took that step of obedience.
In the afternoon, a friend and I managed to lead my grandpa in uttering the sinner’s prayer. It was a miracle! He has never believed in any god his entire life. God proved faithful to me and showed me that He works for the good of those who love Him.
Two days later, I visited grandpa again in the hospital. Grandpa shared with me about how he had personally encountered the Lord Jesus the previous night. When asked about Jesus’ outward appearance, he said that he appeared in human form with a bright light that shone across the whole room. After which, we listened to a Chinese gospel song “Path of Grace” as we broke out in tears. I knew God ministered very deeply to him that night and that God’s presence was in the hospital room.
I asked myself that night, “What if I had bought into the lies and deception of my mind? What if I did not invite grandpa to receive Jesus into his life?” The answer would probably be that grandpa would not have come to know Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour.
Grandpa went home to be with the Lord last month. While it has been a difficult season of mourning for the family, I am now able to stand secure that grandpa is in the heavenly realms with Lord Jesus. I know that he is no longer suffering and is no longer in pain. As much as I miss grandpa and his presence, I know that he is in the embrace of my good and loving Father.
Through my grandpa’s journey with cancer, God challenged me to walk on the waters with Him. God has shown me that I can wholly trust in Him, knowing that His ways are higher than mine. My faith in Him has strengthened and I have begun to trust that He really does make everything beautiful in His own time.
We may not have all the answers to our questions or fully understand what God is doing, but God is constantly calling us to get out of the boat to be with Him and trust that He knows best.
“My faith rests not in what I am or shall be or feel or know but in what Christ is, in what He has done and in what He is now doing for me.”
– Charles Spurgeon