Sunday, October 23, 2005

I Thank God for you.

Dear friends,
Greetings in the name of our Father who holds the keys to life and death!
By the time you read this, Whee Ling has already returned from North Carolina safely.God has heard your intercession for her to be at peace there and to be back safely.

Thank you each and all also for all your emails; sms-es; calls and most of all, your words of encouragement and prayers for my lovely wife, Josh and me during this whole year of our journey since the discovery of my illness. Without you, and the wonderful grace of God, of course, we wouldn't have come thus far. Knowing you are there for us in your own way and knowing Jesus is there in everyway keeps me praising the Lord as long as I live. (Psm 146:2)

The past 3 weeks were rather trying for me - physically and emotionally. The persistent cough throughout the whole day with other accompanying symptoms suggestive of GVHD in the mouth together with the drug toxicity (FK 506), an immuno-suppressant agent, made me very depressed and demoralised. After a while, my heart grew faint and weary. Going for simple diagnostic investigations like Xrays, biopsies and daily blood taking made me feel very lousy. In my heart I often wondered what's next and how long do I have to go through this. My soul was in auguish and deep inside me, it was like hurricane on the inside. Many negative thoughts flooded my soul though I know God is not finished with me yet.That's why I turned down dozens of you who wanted to visit me - I needed to rest and I was just not in the mood to 'entertain' anyone in the hospital. It is very tiring to repeat the story all over again and again - even in sms. Please accept my apologies and thanks for your understanding.

In a way, being alone was really good. Reading chunks of scripture in Isaiah, Job, Psalms and Philipians throughout my almost 2-week stay in all helped me refocus all my thoughts on the maker and shepherd of my life. Reading how men of old like Job and Paul who made it through painfully but stood firm victoriously encouraged my feeble heart and mind. Psalm 6 was also very intrumental for the Holy Spirit to identify and ventilate exactly all my questions; thoughts and feelings to the potter of this clay. His word repleted all the depleted fighting strength in me. Above all, Heb 12:2 specially reminded me to 'endure' like Jesus, who for the joy that was to come endured the CROSS. What a powerful reminder! That what I am going thru is really nothing but just a glimpse of what our dear Lord Jesus went through. He carried the sins of the whole world including mine on that wooden cross! Besides,I believe, like Paul, the Apostle said, we are called not just to believe but to suffer for Him.(Phil 1:29). An elderly man once commented that God is using this illness to punish me but knowing God and His wonderful attributes assures me that He is a good God who allows Satan to test my faith; He dsciplines me to build me up in my character so that I will become more and more like Him. Discipline, like in parenting, is often miscontrued as punishment. Discipline comes from the root word 'to diciple or to train'. Thus I know He who began a good work in me will complete it - so that His purpose and glory will be greatly displayed as I rely on His sufficient grace. You are part of this priviledged journey that God is bringing me through.I have grown because people like you prayed for me to persever. To endure.Thankyou!

Right now, I want to take this time to thank some people who have specially blessed and touched me in their unique ways. 'I thank God for you' - Phil 1:3.

- Thanks my dear Whee Ling for your understanding, silent support and love during this whole journey with me. Your standing by me all the way, in health and in sickness is a very godly way of helping me experience the word 'sacrifice'. You lived it out and given more deep insights in understanding and appreciating Christ's sacrifice for me in a very real and personal way.

- Rev Patrick Wong - a dear close friend and 'big' brother who always prays for me to hang on to Jesus and to look to Him all the time. Thx for sacrificing your time to fetch me to the hospital in spite of your busy schedule where you have so many other sheep to look after. You are truly a good shepherd, a good pastor who takes after our chief shepherd. All these years, you have set a great example for me to be a good pastor.You always do things in such quiet, meaningful ways to show you care. Thx also for coming to see me especially when all I simply needed was the silent presence of a friend who doesn't pretend to understand everything that patients like me go through in the silence of our hearts. God really knows when and who to send! Even the doctors and nurses think you are my brother!

- My mother-in-law. She has been bringing me different kinds of soups almost every day during my stay in the hospital. Not only have I gained a great wife, the double joy is having a mother-in-law who can cook and make different nutritional soups. Above all, I value such a mother-in-law who not only prayed for me in the hospital, but also went to comfort my anxious and worried mum to pray together with her. Praise God for her!

- John Chng. There are so many things to say about you. You are a true friend who has been there for me all these years and especially throughtout this
myeloma-journey with my family. I remember the weekly walks we had at the beach in order to help me get some simple exercises. It's been a year and you are still doing so many things for us, especially for me. Thx you and Hui Si too,for being a great god-pa/god-mum to Josh. Whee Ling and I entrust him totally to God but we know God has also graciously given you2 to share in this special friendship and to be Joshua's god-parents.

- Dr. Melvyn Koh. Please thx your wife,Jane and your cell group for praying for me.Thanks Melvyn for such an emphathetic doctor like you. You took time to visit me though you do not work in SGH. My ears were specially tuned to the few but timely, comforting words you said. Unlike Job's friends whose advice were uncalled for, I found your words comforting & encouraging as it were the very words of God were spoken thru you and the prayers from your heart very ministering.
Someone said, "love people use things". You use ice-cream. What a big tub! Josh loves it too! Bless you as you love your patients with the love of the Lord! You will be a great healing light that will make a difference in shining for our divine physician.

- Winston Lin. Knowing you since my first hospitalization in SGH till now has been such a blessing. Thanks for all your prayers and visits and for sharing your life with me. Your love for God is amazing for a young man like you. Your love for your pre-believing friends reminds that God can use all circumstances to advance the gospel. I also appreciate you greatly for reminding me that Jesus, our key shepherd who is constantly watching over me. That helps!
Friend,you will graduate and become a good and great doctor very soon as you learn to be like Doctor Jesus, our great shepherd!

- My whole family - sisters, brothers; nephews and nieces. Our family has never been so much closer all these years than now. In affliction and suffering, many ones of us have come to know Jesus personally. Each had been ushered into the kingdom of God slowly but surely through the years. The suffering we went through especially during the 10 years when Steven was in trouble had caused our family to come to pray together, standing together,resulting not just in the family becoming closer through prayer, but also seeing not just our parents reconciled and turning to God, but also the salvation of our eldest sis in KL coming to Jesus after 27 years! The Almighty God has heard the cries of our hearts.
Many hearts have yet to open their doors but thru my illness and our monthly family prayer meeting, I believe God is going to open wide the heavens for the rest of them to enter into the gates of heaven. Knowing my very own family is there for me during this crisis gives me great joy and strength to carry on for the sake of the cross. Thankyou for all the lovely cards and calls that your lovely children have sent and made. In sickness or in health; in riches or in poverty - we have seen it all - Let His name be glorified through this Ong family!

By the way - Happy birthday Angie! Thx my dear sister for giving me your stem cells for my bone marrow transplant. Dr.William shared the good news that the engraftment has been totally grafted. My blood group has also been changed from O+ to your blood group AB+. So if Philip observes that I may be behaving more like you now, just tell him not to fall for me! Send him to Dr.William for counselling!

- Now I cannot leave the experts out....... Dr.William Huang and his team of professional experts in the SGH bone marrow transplant team (Drs.Goh Yeow Tee; Micky Koh; Koh Liang Pui; Yvonne Loh; Colin;HO Lin& BMT co-ordinator Sister Jing Jing) as well as all the caring nurses and pharmacists in Haematology Centre and ward 72/SGH including the cleaner Shanti. Thx Dr.William for not just your professional care and duties, but also for your friendship. I see a man of God who serves His master physician and patients with His love.

Wow - this King of king's award can go on and on. My heart has been so moved by so many especially in this past year....I feel the love of God the love and care of all these mentioned and by many of you whom I have not mentioned here in writting as well. Time and space do not permit me but I am grateful for the friendship we share in Jesus, our best friend. Amen?!!

I like to end with this..... 2 nights ago, Josh and my niece, Arabella who stayed over at my place had devotion with me. I was sharing with them on hearing God's voice through impressions, visions and meditation on God's word. When we closed in prayer I asked them to ask God to speak to all of us. Josh saw an eagle in his mind. One that's flying elegantly. Immediately he said, "i remember the verse in that says the eagle soars. Just then, I hear the words 'be patient'as the Holy Spirit impressed upon me and at the very same time Josh exclaimed "Wait patiently!". I told him that Jesus was speaking to him and He finally heard the Lord speaking. Josh was so glad that God really can speak to him in his spirit using the word as he has always been wondering why he cannot hear God's voice since he cannot see or touch Him.You should see the excitement of this little child exhibiting his childlike faith!
Just then,Arabella shared that the eagle is looking for food. "Looking for food",Josh laughed.But with the simplicity and sincerity of her heart, she just said what she thinks the Lord revealed to her.Such childlike faith. I learned so much from them - simple faith! And God used them to remind me that in order to soar I need to wait patiently upon the Lord like Isa 40:31 promises. I must look into the word all day long,chew it, meditate upon it and receive it into my spirit in order to soar like the eagle. God is so gentle and loving to use these two little children to speak to me in particular.... to rejoice in my tribulation and not let the thief steal away the joy of Jesus in me, even in the midst of suffering.Please pray that I will always hold every deceptive and negative thought captive in Jesus' name!(Phil 4:8;)- wrong thinking can rob us of our joy daily in Christ.

Now that the Lord has kept my mind in perfect peace again as I learn to let my mind stayed on Him - I will persevere on. I will endure. I will overcome - as He overcome - even death on the cross. Please pray God will not let me suffer long but through each phase, grant me strength to ENDURE and learn the precious things He wants me to learn thru this and long for the fruit of longsuffering and patience.

Romans 5:3-4 "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance , character; and character, HOPE.

You know, death is not scary. It is actually a glorious enterance into our Maker's glorious presence to be with Him eternally. Humanly speaking,the scary part is the process of dying and the suffering - that haunts me. Please do not get me wrong. I am not thinking of dying yet. With this ailment, God has opened up my eyes to see and my heart to feel for many in my life who are lost. I think there's still so much we want to do and achieve in life. But when afflicted with a condition like mine, suddenly my whole wholeview changes. There's nothing more important than hungering to know my creator as I cannot bring anything into the box when one passes on. Nothing - everyhting will be burnt and turned into ashes. Therefore, as long as the Lord gives me breadth, I want to tell of the goodness of the Lord in my life. I fear not death,for our lives are in God's hands and our names are written on the very palms of His Great hand. With such a peace and joy and blessed hope in Christ,I renew my trust and entrust my whole being and family to Him once again - for in Him we live and have our being!

Indeed, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe." - Proverbs 18:10

Thx for 'listening' friend! And for all your love and prayers - you helped me live for Jesus more courageously! I thx God for you!