The Lord Gave and the Lord Has Taken Away

posted Feb 6, 2013, 5:21 PM by Elisa Lui

Miscarriage. It is a word that had never crossed my mind before; a word that I had never heard discussed at church.  Yet, miscarriage is such a common place that 10 to 25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).  If miscarriage happens more than we like to acknowledge, why has it been something we do not talk about, especially in the Christian community. One reason might be the fact that many miscarriages occur at the early stage of pregnancy and thus the couple experienced the lost before they could share their news of pregnancy with others.  Another reason could be a sense of fear or guilt the women feel about their lost. They might feel guilty or fear of others blaming her for causing the miscarriage. Lastly, miscarriage has not been discussed in church because we might not know how to grabble with this topic as Christians?

“So how should Christian view miscarriages?” I thought when I walked out from my ultrasound appointment.  How should I understand the meaning of having a six-week fetus in my womb that has no heartbeat?  Inevitable, I was in denial at first, thinking it was a mistake that would be clear up with another ultrasound in a week.  However, when all my nausea subsided and bleeding began within a week, I knew there was no mistake. I ran through in my mind all the possible causes. Was it from the stress of my seventy-hour work week for the past three months or was it from my one-year-old son jumping and kicking on my lap?

No matter what I perceive the cause was, I knew God was the ultimate governor of life and He makes no mistake.  In Job 1:21, Job reminded us that “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In God’s sovereignty, He gave me a second child and it was also in His sovereignty that He took him or her away at six weeks in the womb.  In Jeremiah 1:5, God said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”  Although the little one lived only six weeks in my womb, God knows this child inside out. God loves this child more than I do. I do not need to know the reason behind God’s doing because I trust that He has both the child and my best interest in mind. The Scripture reminded us in Psalm 84:11 that “the Lord will not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly.” Although it might be hard to understand how a mishap such as a miscarriage or a paralyzing stroke could be a blessing from God, we have to be reminded that our perspectives and understandings of this world are limited and only God can see the entire picture, including the consequences of each events.  “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Cor 1:25) Being a Christian means having a trust in our faithful God regardless of the trying circumstances in life. Unlike other religions which promise good living to those who fellow, Jesus did not guarantee an easy life for His followers. On the contrary, Apostle Paul said that there will surely be difficulties in our life, but God’s promise to us is that our sufferings are not in vain (Ro 5:3-4 & 8:28) and He will carry our burdens for us (Mt 11:30).[1]  

As much as I want to be able to hold this child in my arm and see him or her grow up as part of our family, I know he or she is at a much better place, in the secure arms of Jesus.  I remembered sharing with my husband about how blessed is this child, being able to ride the express elevator to heaven, skipping the toils of this world.  I am looking forward to meet this child one day. Although we will no longer have a parent-child relationship, we will definitely rejoice in the presence of our Lord.

[1] “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28; “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30.

Mistake 錯誤

posted Nov 14, 2011, 10:34 PM by Elisa Lui

Everyone makes mistake. It is part of being human. However, none of our mistakes is too big for God. Before we make the wrong decision, God has already known our choices. God knows the past as well as the future. Although we have to bear the consequences of our mistakes, God can transform our mistakes into benefits in our life. In Romans 8:28, God promised us that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” There are countless examples in my own life of how God orchestrated events in my life so that my mistakes eventually become a blessing. That being said does not mean we are free to make mistake, but instead we should not be hinder from the shame and guilt of our past. Even though we cannot change the outcome of our wrong choices, God can use those events to teach us about the Truth and lead us closer to Him. All we have to do is to repent and let go. Offer your past mistakes to God today and let God shows you how He will heal and complete you through them.

每個人都犯錯。這是人類的天性。然而,我們沒有一個錯誤是大的能。我們在做出錯誤的決之前,已經知道我們的選擇。知道過去,以及未來。雖然我們要對我們的承擔後果,神可以我們的錯誤變成我們生活中的祝 在羅馬書 8:28我們承諾 "我們曉 得萬事都互相效力,叫愛神的人得益處,就是按他旨意被召的人。"  在我生有無數的例子神如何精心安排我的事件使我的錯誤最終成為生活中的一種祝。這樣說,並不意味著我們可以自由地犯錯,是我們不應我們過去犯錯的恥辱和罪惡感。即使我們不能改變我們的錯誤的結果,可以使用這些事教導我們什麼是真,使我們更認的性。我們單要做的是悔改和放手。今天你過去的錯,讓醫治你,使復原

The Riches of Poverty

posted Apr 9, 2010, 12:58 AM by Edward Jue   [ updated Apr 9, 2010, 1:02 AM ]

April 2010

Willard devotes chapter ten on the topic of poverty. In it, he clarifies some of the Christians’ misconception toward poverty and riches. Although he does not condemned those who takes the vow of poverty, Willard states clearly that it is a mistake to consider “material goods outside of holiness.”1 The Christian’s discipline shall focus on the “possessing, using, and trusting in riches.”2 I especially enjoy his statement regarding the liberty from being possessed by our possessions.
“Poverty as a general practice cannot solve humankind’s bondage to wealth. Freedom from possessions is not an outward thing as much as an inward one. It is something that can come from the inward vision of faith alone. This is the point of Bonhoeffer’s remark that ‘to be without desire is a mark of poverty.’ But to abandon the goods of this world to the enemies of God is to fail the responsibilities we are given at creation to have dominion to rule over all life forms above the plants (Gen. 1:26).”3
Willard calls us into a life of poverty not in the sense that we have to give up everything we have outwardly, but instead detach ourselves from these things inwardly, having wise management over them, but not depending on them to satisfy us.

As I read these words, I painted a clearer picture for me regarding my own life of poverty. Although I do not remember much about my life before the death of my father when I was three, I have learned that my father was a dentist and was the sole bread winner for both my immediate and extended family. Even thought we were not rich by any measure, we were considered to be well-off because of my father’s bright prospect. However, after my father’s death, I remembered having needed to take breaks from elementary school to work because my grandparents could not pay from my schooling. Despite these difficulties, I never considered myself “poor.” That might have to do partly of my ignorance of the wealth of material goods existed outside of my little village. However, my childhood experience did not generate in me a love or dependence for the material goods. It was only when I came to the United States was I exposed to the overpowering consumer culture. Yet, God grabbed hold of my life early on and had never kept my eyes off the riches in His kingdom.

Therefore, it was not a struggle for me when I have to leave my marketing job to work at church for less than half of what I was making. I have no doubt that God provides and I do not care about how my friends and family members look at me. Although they think I am wasting my time on a job that has no future and no promotion, they cannot see the returns being generated in God’s kingdom. When my fiancé’s parents despise me for not having money to fix my 1995 Mercedes Benz, which my dad gave me, and instead have to drive a God given 1983 Toyota that has problems every month, I praise the Lord because He grants me a car not only to serve the people whom He places in my path, but also opportunities to learn about car mechanics. Like what Willard writes about “Poverty is not simplicity,” my life is not simple, but I just learn how to “put all demands that come…in ‘their place’ and deal [with them] harmoniously, peacefully, and confidently with complexities of life that them incomprehensible to others.”4

However, Willard’s writing about poverty also remains me that obtaining this inward life of poverty is more than just being able to detach myself from the material goods; it also includes wise management of the resources given by God. Since I had never had much resource to manage, I do not know whether I would still have the same liberty from possession if I were to have a lot of financial wealth. I have no doubt that the attainment of inward poverty life is much harder for people that has a great deal of worldly possession. The temptation to exercise the wealth and the power that comes with it to satisfy ones’ desire would be much greater than what I have experienced.

May be it is because God knows that I cannot handle wealth, so He has thus far spare me from this struggle. Nevertheless, Willard’s writing has challenged me to re-evaluate two things. First is my way of using God’s resource. Due to my kingdom focus mindset, sometimes, I have overlooked the management of world resources that God have given me. How can I use them as a good steward for the benefit of God’s kingdom on this earth? Secondly, I need to reevaluate my attitude toward the affluent. I cannot deny that I have prejudiced against the affluent because I despise their worldly view and attachment to the temporal goods. Yet, as Willard mentions there is no advantage of the materially poor over the materially rich and God does not bless one and cursed the other. Going back to Willard’s point that material goods are not outside of holiness, I have to remind myself not to merely look at how much one possess, but really how that person use and trust it.

This understanding will help me as I prepare to begin a new family with my fiancé. As we pull our resources together, we have to learn how to live a life of inward poverty while being a steward of God’s provision. Furthermore, Elisa and I can incorporate into our current ministries among the college students the value of inward poverty and clarifies their misconception of poverty as giving up all their possession. In the long run, I pray that God will change me, so that I can cultivate a love for the affluent, and so that I can share with them the heavenly riches for an inward life of poverty.

1 Richard J. Foster, The Spirit of the Disciplines, (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 203
2 Ibid., 194
3 Ibid., 202
4 Ibid., 204-05

Connecting the Dots

posted Apr 6, 2010, 9:37 PM by Elisa Lui

January 2009

It came as a shock for my family when my mother suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1993. Of course, it was not a surprise for God. HE knew it all along and even made preparations for it. My family just did not know at the time. Now almost sixteen years later, I am beginning to see in retrospect the sequence of events God plotted leading up to this climax.

Two years prior to my mother’s stroke, I was looking for something to do for my first summer in the United States. When a volunteering program from a local hospital came up in the school’s announcement, I convinced my friend to apply for it with me. There were positions available throughout the different medical departments, but my friend and I were assigned to the Adult Day Care Center. Little did I know then, this divine assignment was God’s preparation for me of what would be coming two years later.

The Adult Day Care Center was a place where stroke patients spend their day time while their family members were unavailable to take care of them. In addition of lunch, the patients received physical, occupational and speech therapy in the center. The center also hosted a series of activities for the patients such as group exercising class, art and cooking classes. Since the Adult Day Care Center was located in a Russian immigrant’s neighborhood and most patients spoke Russian only, many of the staffs at the center also spoke Russian. However, there was one patient, Mr. Chan, who spoke Chinese only and was not able to communicate with any of the staff. Naturally, I was assigned to be Mr. Chan’s personal translator during the two summers I volunteered at the center.

Working with Mr. Chan required a lot of patience because his speech was impaired by the stroke and it often took a long time and a lot of guesses for me to figure out what Mr. Chan was trying to say. However, this training of patience became invaluable when I have to interpret for my mother after her stroke. Another priceless lesson I learned from my volunteering experience was how to take care a stroke patient. From observing the staffs at the center and working directly with patients with various disabilities, I not only acquired the skilled to assist stroke patients with their daily needs, such as going to the bathroom, eating and brushing teeth, I also became familiar with the range of physical therapy exercises for the different parts of the body.

All these skills and knowledge allowed me snapped into action instantaneously when my mother returned home from the hospital two months after her stroke. I knew exactly how to help her to sit up on her bed, how to hold her as she took shower and what exercises to do with her. In many ways, my volunteering experiences also helped prepare me emotionally -- alleviating the distress I would have had if I had never encounter stroke patients before.

Yet, God did more than just training me as a caregiver for my mother, God knew my mother’s medical expense would put an impossible financial burden on my family. Although none of us knew at the time, God already put in place a plan three months prior that would cover all her medical expenses until the day she meets the LORD face to face. Three months before my mother’s stroke, my father obtained a part-time job in a hospital. As a staff, my father and his spouse had full medical expense coverage, including all medications, diagnostic tests, procedures and hospitalization. Moreover, this particular hospital offered its staffs and their spouse substantial medical coverage after their retirement if they worked for more than fifteen years. My father finished his fifteen years of service just before he was diagnosed with cancer. I cannot tell you what a blessing this job has been for my family. Since my mother is on medication for the rest of her life and needs to undergo medical exams on a monthly basis, the financial implication would have sent our family to bankruptcy. Nonetheless, God told us HE would never forsake us and will always provide a way out for us in all our challenges.

Although God engineered what seemed to be a tragedy for my family, HE did not just abandon us; instead, HE made careful provision for us ahead of time enabling us to experience HIS grace. One might accuse God for making amusement for Himself out of our suffering. Certainly not! From my mother’s stroke, my volunteering position at the Adult Day Care Center to my father’s job in the hospital and all the little episodes in between, God planned them all for a purpose – to purify us so that we can be closer to the image of Christ. If we began to exam carefully the events in our lives, we would see how nothing happened out of coincidence and begin to draw connections between them. It gives me great excitement to see how the current anecdotes of my life will relate to the events of the past. I encourage you to start drawing the connection between the dots in your life. I guarantee you will be as amazed as I am.

The Lesson on Acceptance

posted Apr 6, 2010, 9:32 PM by Elisa Lui   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 9:36 PM ]

December 2008

On April 7th, 1993, my mother suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the right side of her body and impaired her speech permanently. She asked God numerous times “why me?” She could not understand how a loving God would allow such tragedy to happen in her life, especially when our family just migrated to the United States and my parents were struggling to pay the mortgage while providing for the family? “It is not fair!” She yelled to God. She was anger at God for not intervening when HE had the power to so. The day before her stroke, she began to have difficulty speaking and she went to see a doctor, but the doctor just told her to get more rest and sent her home. Why did not God give the doctor the wisdom to hospitalize her? My mother was convinced that she could have been spared from this devastation if she was hospitalized that night.

The months following the stroke were the most agonizing time in her life. The sorrow, the pain, the helplessness, the loneness and the frustration she felt at that time were beyond any words could describe. What used to be a simple task such as walking, dressing and brushing teeth was a new challenge for her. She could no longer take care of herself and must rely on the assistance of my family.

Yet the most difficult part of this ordeal was her inability to express her feelings. Since the stroke caused a blood clog between her left and right brains, she lost the ability to say and write out her thoughts. She wanted to share with others the emotions inside her heart, but God even took that away from her. Her friends came to visit at first, but with time they stopped coming because they did not want her to feel embarrassed when they did not understand her baby talk. She spent countless days sobbing to the four walls of her bedroom.

I wish I could say her faith in God motivated her to live, but that was not true. What kept her going was her hope to recover completely. She spent hours each day exercising with the belief and expectation that she would soon recover fully. She asked God to heal her, but one, five and ten year passed by and she hardly made any progress. She still couldn’t say much more than a few words, nor could she move her right hand and the lower parts of her right leg. Her optimism quickly faded into disappointment and depression.

It took God over fifteen painful years to help my mother to accept her disability as part of HIS plan for her. Although she still does not know why God engineered this stroke in my life, she no longer needs to know the reasons. In Matthew 7:9-11, God said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” My mother trusts that our heavenly Father would not withhold anything good from her. HE did not heal my mother because her disability was HIS gift to her.

Today, my mother sees the stroke as a blessing, which allow her to enjoy the love and care of a very close family even to this day. She views it as a blessing to her children because it helped my younger brother and I to grow up maturely at an early age and provided the circumstance for us to receive scholarships for our college educations. The stroke has also strengthened her marriage by teaching her how to totally depend and submit to my father’s leading and causing my father to truly lay down every bit of his life to care for my mother. Most importantly, God used the stroke to draw my mother closer to HIM and allowed her to grow spiritually. The joy and peace in my mother today makes her the wealthiest person I know because many people are still searching for the contentment she obtained.  Learning how to accept God’s plan in our life is often difficult, but my mother has mastered it with a grateful heart.


posted Apr 6, 2010, 9:25 PM by Elisa Lui   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 9:26 PM ]

June 2008

這裡,有一個窗口讓您看到外面燦爛的陽光。您可以感覺到來自太陽的的溫暖和聽到抒情歌唱的鳥兒。您看到外面正在盛開中的美麗鮮花, 您非常想走到旁邊嗅它們的香味,但是您發覺您不能通過這個窗口出去。雖然,您曾嘗試一切,您仍然被困在房間內。但慢慢地,您可能會發現這個窗口變得越來越 大。您最終逃脫了!

當您走到花的旁邊,你才發現原來不是窗口增大了, 其實是你縮細了。正當您鬥爭通過窗口的期間,你的身體不知不覺地萎縮了。

現實是不會改變的,但我們是可以比改變的。改造的過程是非常耗費 時間和痛苦的。但是我們的天父很有耐心地等待我們的心,所以他的燦爛與香味可以更加美麗和甜。感謝上帝沒有給我一個大的窗,因為只有這樣我才能可以從一個 小的角度來面對巨大的現實。我尚未完成縮細的過程,但每一天這裡的窗口看來是比前一天更大的。終有一天我會逃出來,而不需要再回頭看...因為會有另一個 窗口在我面前等待我。這裡,被稱為「現實」。

Spiritual Transparency

posted Apr 6, 2010, 8:35 PM by Edward Jue   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 10:30 PM ]

April 2010

In Oswald Chambers’ essay The Ministry of the Interior, he reminds believers to be servant of God instead of worker of God by first focusing on the inner sanctification with the Lord through prayers.

“That is the meaning of personal sanctification, and that is why the barriers of personal testimony must be broken away and effaced by the realisation of why we are sanctified – not to be fussy workers for God, but to be His servants, and this is the work, vicarious intercession.”[1] In this quote, Chamber makes a distinction between a worker and a servant. The difference, according to Chamber, is the ability for one to let go of oneself, one’s own ability and one’s pride to be completely filled with the Holy Spirit to be at a point where one can actually begin to feel and look from God’s perspective.

“One of the first lessons learnt in the Ministry of the Interior is to talk things out before God in soliloquy – tell Him what you know He knows in order that you may get to know it as He does. All the harshness will go and the suffering sadness of god’s Spirit will take its place, and gradually you will be brought into sympathy with His point of view.”[2]

What Chamber is trying to illustrate is the importance of complete transparency of oneself so God’s glory can be shown. Unlike workers of God who tries to bring glory to God through personal testimony or a calendar filled with ministry, Chamber challenges believers to be like Jesus who calls exhibits the character of a God’s servant.. “The Spirit of God must have a deep indignation at the preaching of holiness that is not the holiness of Jesus. The holiness of Jesus is the most humble thing on earth.”[3] Instead of boasting about the great accomplishment of a ministry and preaching on our own holiness, Chamber calls believers to be humble.

This humbleness entails even a total relinquishment in prayer life. As Chamber points out that it is often easier for us to judge and complaint about other’s wrong doing than to talk and pray to God about it. Even when we do pray for others, we tell God what the wrongs are and what He should do. Chamber makes an insightful statement that “the knowledge of where people are wrong is a hindrance to prayer, not an assistance. ‘I want to tell you of the difficulties so that you may pray intelligently.’ The more you know the less intelligently you pray because you forget to believe that God can alter the difficulties.”[4] When we try to feed God more of our own opinion, we are a worker instead of a servant. Although we claim we are making an intercession for others, we are in fact directing God how to perform His job using our own discernment. In other words, we are using our own ability and intelligence again instead of allowing God to act according to His plan.

Humbleness starts from a re-elevation of our inner self. Are all our ministry obligations bring glory to ourselves or to God? Chamber suggests that if we search carefully, “we will be covered with shame and confusion because of our miserably selfish, self-centered Christianity.”[5] God does not need our help. What He desire is our submissive hearts that can wait patiently for the opportunity to participate in His work. Often time, that means performing the hidden work of an intercessor. Being God’s servant is to be transparent so God’s glory can be seen through us, not by us.

[1] Oswald chambers, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 2000), 515
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.

Possessed Nothing

posted Apr 6, 2010, 8:29 PM by Edward Jue   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 10:30 PM ]

February 2010

In The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, Tozer used the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac to illustrate the teaching of Matthew 5:3 (NIV) which states “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” As Tozer pointed out, God had created all the wonderful things in the world for human to enjoy, but He has reserved a special place in our heart for Himself. Yet, often we filled this special place with the material and emotional blessings from God instead of Himself. As a result, we were drawn away from Him. Tozer noted that God saw the danger in Abraham of placing his beloved son, Isaac, in the shrine of his heart and God stepped in to save him by testing him.

Although the bible did not describe in detail the agony Abraham had gone through internally, Tozer suggested that the struggle would be comparable to what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.[1] For Abraham, Isaac was more than his son of old age; he was the promise from God and the line for the future Savior. He was more precious than anything Abraham had, including his own life. It was exactly this reason, God took him through the journey of wrestling, emptying, detaching and foregoing the “things” in his life. Abraham’s willful obedience to God even up to the moment of raising his hand with the knife was no easy task, but it was the precise step and necessary timing for God to “correct the perversion that existed in” Abraham’s heart.[2] It was the means and method in which Abraham became empty and blessed at the same time because what he gained was an eternal closeness with God that could not be shaken by the world any longer. To put it in Tozer’s word, “He had everything, but he possessed nothing.”

In the bible, one can see many other examples that echo Tozer’s statement. From Job, Esther, King David, Apostle Peter to Apostle Paul, God tested each of them with different circumstances so they could clear out the worldly possession in their lives and be blessed with God Himself. If these saints did not abandon their lives, they could not have become the blessing for many others. “Whoever loses his life for me (Jesus) will find it.”[3] To enjoy the riches of the Kingdom, one must possess nothing. It contraries to the teaching of this world, but is the key to the true blessing of eternal joy, peace and hope in God.

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, (Las Vegas: IAP, 2009), 20
[2] Ibid., 21
[3] Matthew 16:25 (New International Version)

Need & Want

posted Apr 6, 2010, 8:23 PM by Edward Jue   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 10:29 PM ]

February 2010

What is the difference between “need” and “want”? A question provoked by the readings. As I read Genesis 1, I tried to see what were the things that were needed and what were the things that were desired. God wanted to create light, day, night and time. HE did not have to make any of these, but HE desired to because HE saw these things as good. However, I noticed that in all subsequent creations God made from HIS desire depended on the provision created before. For example, before God created animals, HE created plants, so the animals could be feed. Before God created plants, HE created water because the plants needed water to sustain life. Then, what did man need?

In Genesis 2:8, God said it was not good for a man to be alone and God created a helper for him. In other words, man needs a community. Although if we follow the logic of how a man is made from the image of God and if God is perfect, then man is a perfect creature and should not have any needs. However, as I can see from the bible and in my own life, man does need company. In the lecture, we discussed how it is impossible to define oneself without another. In order words, it is impossible to define the uniqueness of who I am without have another being. When God created Adam, he was perfect, but he was not able to distinguish himself. Even though Adam had a body, soul and spirit, he was lacking something and that something was social interaction. Adam needed another human being to interact with and that was the reason God created woman. HE created woman not only so that man has someone to develop social skill with, but to bring out the completeness and beauty of man.

The need for man to have a community is seen throughout the bible. When Jesus sent out HIS disciplines, HE sent them in pairs.[1] The bible also taught us to pray together with at least one other person.[2] To me, God created this need of community in man in order to reveal and complete the greatest and perfection in HIS creation. I experienced firsthand when I met my fiancés, Elisa. For the first time, I could understand the joy, peace and perfection Adam must have felt in seeing Eve. When God created woman, HE took part of man’s inner being and gave it to woman. Women in my opinion were much more emotional and gentle than men and that was what men needed. On the other hand, God gave man more physical strength and a leading role so woman could rely on man’s protection and decision making skill. Only are they together could God’s design be completed.

Elisa and I are the same way. We both filled each other’s gap and complement each other so that God’s greatness could become whole. I have always felt something is missing in my life, a sense of dryness. I feel like somehow my sense of emotion and caring are missing. It is hard for me to feel how other people feel and I find it difficult to know how to care for others. This might have to do with my upbringing. Since my father passed away and my mother was forced to leave my siblings and I when I was three, I never received the love and care a child needed. Although my grandmother cared for my needs in the material sense, she did not fill the yearning of parental love I had. As the oldest child, I was given the role of my father immediately after his death. I was told and expected to act as a role model for my younger siblings and provide for their needs.

However, nobody saw my own need. I continued to strive to live up to other’s as well as my own expectation of who I should be as a “father” for my siblings. I did the best I could accord to my own conscious. I loved my siblings, but only out of responsibility and obligation. My love was conditional and very much self-centered. I love them as long as they listen to my commands and followed as I instructed them. I also lacked any social skill. Since social skill requires giving and taking from other parities, I was always giving and never receiving.

Many times I thought life was very unfair and I questioned the Heaven why I lost so much in life. However, that all changed when I met Christ after I was adopted by a Chinese couple in San Francisco. Rather than seeing how I have lost so much, I realized how much God made it up in other aspects. Most importantly, God revealed HIMSELF to me. HE also provided my adapted parents and gave me the opportunity to grow up in church so I can experience what real love is. As I saw how people give without expecting anything in return, my definition of love changed from being a responsibility that comes as part of a trade agreement to an act that does not count wrongs or results. Growing up in church also allowed me to develop my social and caring skill.

Although I can say that I am a more caring person today than before, I still continue to have struggle in caring for my adapted parents. Since I never felt connected with them, for a long time I was taking care of them out of the intention of repaying them. Even though it is still very hard for me to feel connected with my adopted parents today, I sensed that my attitude toward them has changed. I now love them because I love God and I am following His command to honor my parents. There is still much work God needs to do on me to make me a caring person. However, I am grateful that God is providing me a helper, an emotional and caring woman that can help me to see the needs in others. The difference between man and woman reminds me of the difference between the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament is like the man which is more harsh, less emotional, more rigid and more about rules. The New Testament is like a woman which is softer and more about grace. Jesus said that HE came not to demolish the laws; rather HE came to complete it. As woman completes man, Jesus completes the Old Testament. Similarly, the church is like the woman and Christ is the groom and they need to join together as one so that the church becomes the body and Jesus as the head. In this way, they can become a whole being and God’s glory can be shown in even greater magnitude. Therefore, the need of man for a community is an instrument that fulfills God’s desire to receive glory from HIS creations. HE does not need it, but HE desires it.

[1] Luke 10:1 (New International Version)
[2] Matthew 18:19-20 (New International Version)

Discovering Shame

posted Apr 6, 2010, 8:08 PM by Edward Jue   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 10:29 PM ]

March 2010

In one of the section of the book, Anderson discusses the importance of having the capacity to feel shame. He points out that there is healthy shame which set up the boundaries and guidelines to prevent us from committing wrongs.[1] However, there is also another kind of shame which is a type of self-abuse that cripples one from doing good.[2]

I found this analysis very intriguing because I have never given too much thought on the different types of shame. I agree with Anderson that the capacity to feel shame in itself is a blessing from God. It is not much different in concept as the capacity to feel pain. The reason when we feel pain when we burn our hands is because God uses such feeling as warning sign to prevent us from harming our own body. Without the capacity to feel pain, we would be hurting ourselves without being aware of it. Many people with leprosy who no longer can feel pain often lose their fingers or toes because their bodies cannot sense the warning signs. Similarly, I concur with Anderson that the capacity to feel shame helps one to know what is wrong and produce discouragement for the person to repeat the same mistake.

For me, the capacity to feel shame had produced in me during my childhood the motivation to do well in school. After my father passed away and my mother left, I felt that as the oldest, I have to be the role model for my younger siblings. I did not want to be looked down by neighbors. I felt shame if I fail to perform well in school and in taking care of my younger siblings. This capacity of feeling shame helped me to thrive in school and provided for my younger siblings. The same capacity to feel shame fuels my continuation to love and provide for my siblings and my biological mother even to this day. If I did not have this healthy dose of shame, I would have abandoned my siblings and mother after I moved to the United States since there is really no need for me to show them my love.

Contrary to this healthy shame, I had also experienced shame in a self-abuse way during my high school and college years. Although I was a good student, never skipping class, I did not do well in school at all. I felt extremely shameful for my poor performance. As a result, I considered myself useless, incapable and simply stupid. This negative self-image continued to follow me when I took many years before finishing my college degree and was not able to find a good paying job while my friends were making substantial salary and driving nice cars.

Yet, God slowly removed the self-abuse shame in me, so that I was completely transformed from within. Just as Anderson mentioned that recovery from shame was discovery, I was able to release the self-abuse shame as I slowly discover my identity in Christ.[3] As I realized I was made in the image of God and thus have God’s character embedded in me.[4] I felt enabled, empowered and free from the value others placed on me. Instead of feeling useless, I felt not only useful, but also proud that I have the detachment from the worldly and temporal things. I might not have a good educational background, a nice car or a good paying job, but I do not feel shameful. Even though many people, even Christian believers, think I am being a fool and have no ambition for working in church, I do not feel ashamed. I am not depending on these worldly values to survive. Rather than investing my time and energy for this world, I think I am a brilliant investor by investing my tangible and fleeting resources for the intangible and eternal Kingdom of God. I do everything for God’s delight, not for the world’s pleasure. This is the purpose Jesus has purchased my life with His blood – to live my life for Him.

After reading Anderson’s investigation of shame helped me to identify the different types of shame I have felt in my life and differential the positive and negative impact of shame. This understanding will not only allow me to recognize the type of shame I feel in my own life, but will help me to identify it in the people I serve. I believe the capacity to feel shame is a blessing from God when we use it as the boundaries of our rightful actions and thoughts. I hope that I can assist others, whom are in my fellowship and whom I’ll be serving in the future, in discovering the blessedness of healthy shame so that we can recognize sin, able to repent and be ultimately closer to God.

[1] Ray S. Anderson, Self Care, (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Seminary Press, 2000), 147
[2] Ibid., 154
[3] Ibid., 161
[4] Genesis 1:26-27 (New International Version) “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

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