ADVENT21: Testimony on Joy

by Andrea Chong, illustration by Gabriella Spykerman

2021: A Very Challenging Year

2021 has been challenging to say the least. This year, I was confronted with great heartache – the kind that makes you cry yourself to sleep, cry in the toilet, basically just makes you become a wet mop. Not to be dramatic, but it definitely was one of the worst things I had experienced in the short 20 years I’ve lived. It was the heartache of being torn in two ways, desiring what I wanted for myself, and yet wanting to follow God’s will for me – which did not align with mine at the time. I must admit, many times during this season I felt rid of joy, lifeless and desolate.

Amidst Ongoing Frustrations, God Never Turned His Face Away From Me

During this season, my prayer was filled with frustration, helplessness, annoyance, that things wouldn’t go my way. “Jesus, why do you have to do this to me? Jesus, I don’t understand what you’re doing. Jesus, I hate that this is happening.” In hindsight, it was only in this brokenness and heartache that Jesus’ love was able to penetrate the walls of my heart for Him to reveal Himself and His love for me time and time again. Despite the frustration I had in prayer, the Lord never ceased to invite me to spend time with Him. Often, after throwing huge tantrums at Jesus, I was invited to sit in silence, to think and calm down, and realised that even in all my screaming and crying, the Lord never once turned His face from me in anger. This was the first realisation that no matter the circumstance I encounter, no matter how I react to it, I am infinitely loved and unceasingly held in the arms of the Father.

God Ministered to Me Through Those Around Me

The Lord continued to minister to me in the ways He knew would speak to me most. My community of kingdom friends continued showing up for me time and again. They never grew tired of listening to me tell them about how upset I was, what I was struggling with, even if they’d heard the same thing the day before. He blessed me with friends who checked in on me regularly to ask how I was dealing with everything. Jesus blessed me with mentors who were filled with His spirit and wisdom to tell me exactly what I needed to hear. These little moments were evidence of God’s grace. They were reminders to me, even in the toughest of times, that even when I struggled to be present to the Lord, He was present to me.

Then One Day… A Little Miracle, from Desolation to Consolation

Then one day, months gone since I first stepped foot into this trying season, I recognised a little miracle had transpired in the depths of my heart. It was during the School Of Christian Leadership, after a session on desolation and consolation. The speaker listed out all the characteristics of being in desolation, and I had checked all the boxes before: empty of hope, focused on suffering, lacking peace and struggling to accept God’s plan for me. But now, I recognised I identified much more with the characteristics of being in consolation: recognising God’s goodness despite struggle, being able to claim and experience God’s closeness, peace despite suffering, transparency to my support network, desires to dream for God, and most importantly security in God’s love for me amidst the uncertainty in my life.

One Thing I Am Sure Of – God Loves Me Tirelessly

While at some moments, it was beyond difficult to feel joy even in the midst of friends and laughter, I was blessed with so many moments of grace which reminded me of His overwhelming love for me. Even on the toughest days, the Lord assured me that He would always show His faithfulness to me. Although this testimony was difficult to write, I knew the Lord was calling me to proclaim His goodness over this season of my life. A reflection I wrote while in the season was “this season really be trying and tiring but one day it’s gonna turn into a fantastic testimony of the Lord’s goodness I just know it.” I thank Jesus for allowing me to hope in His goodness, to be confident of His love for me even when it was so difficult to – for being my enduring joy. I conclude this testimony with an excerpt of a little testimony I wrote in the thick of the struggle – “although I still don’t know what Jesus asks of me in this time, there’s one thing I am sure of – that Jesus is on my side, and that He loves me tirelessly. He reminds me that I will never have to worry about a life without Him.”



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