Seeing Opportunity in Times of Crisis 

Olivia with husband Moses and son Isaiah

by Olivia Tian

The past few months have been nothing short of eventful. Many have termed this as unusual times. COVID-19 has definitely been a hot topic of discussion among all of us. Our lives and routines have been disrupted and many of our plans have been shelved. While many of us may choose to bemoan our situation, perhaps it is also a good time to take a step (or many steps) back to look at the bigger picture.

Ever since the WHO declared COVID 19 a pandemic, I have been thoroughly affected. I am a doctor and will be working on the frontlines when I return to work from unpaid leave. This is because I gave birth to my daughter Lucia Regina on 16th October 2019. Unfortunately, she was stillborn. Initially, I had planned to go on unpaid leave until she would have turned 6 months old. I decided to stick to my plans as I am also currently studying for my Masters’ exam. I definitely do not have a crystal ball and did not foresee this pandemic. But in retrospect, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to focus on my studies during a time when leave is frozen and previously accumulated leave will be potentially struck off. Even though I still carry sadness with me (and probably will for a very long time to come), I still thank God for this period of rest and recuperation.

Lucia’s passing was difficult for us as a family. To this day, my husband Moses and I still wonder why we had to lose our daughter. However, we have heard accounts of how her passing moved my sister’s friend who had been away from the church, to attend and offer Mass for her soul. We have also been told by others how they have been touched by Lucia and are reminded to pray more. Perhaps, God has a greater plan and our little angel has brought people back to church. In our sorrow and grief, I’m reminded that God is constantly using our daughter for His purpose and that her life wasn’t in vain.

This year’s Lent has been like a desert for many of us (me included). Masses are now online and as much as this situation isn’t ideal, I think that these online Masses are avenues for evangelisation. I have been sharing photos of my son Isaiah gladly filling the role of an altar boy in our home on social media as a way to share about how we live out our faith. This has given me an opportunity to share with my tutor who is a Protestant about how we are getting through this difficult time. Getting a two and half year old toddler to sit through an entire Mass is a mammoth task. One Sunday after trying to get Isaiah to sit still repeatedly and feeling tired from running after him, I angrily asked God, “Why do I have to go through this?” Just then the final hymn, Old Rugged Cross (which is Isaiah’s favourite Lent time hymn) started playing. Amazingly, Isaiah stopped in his tracks and decided to sing along. I felt that it was as though God was telling me not to worry. He would care for my little one. I realised then, that I have been trying to deal with many situations my way, but all I needed to do, was to trust in God and to surrender my worries to him.

With social distancing measures in place, Zoom, Google hangouts, and other online meeting platforms are now our new norm. Prior to that, we still chose to gather in our homes for cell group meetings. There were times when we had to question if we really wanted to continue meeting in person or if we should make the transition to virtual platforms.

When my community members chose to stop meeting in person, I realised that it was not out of fear but out of love as they wanted to protect my son Isaiah. This reminded me of what St. John wrote in his letters, “there is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18). When I was feeling conflicted about holding home-based cell groups, I offered it to God asking for wisdom. We decided to defer our decision while continually monitoring the situation. However, God took that decision out of our hands as Circuit Breaker measures were announced and we had to move to online platforms instead.

Now with the current circuit breaker measures in place, our weekends which used to be filled with community activities and family commitments, are suddenly left free. My husband and I now have to deal with having our little boy running around the house due to school closures. Instead of getting upset and fearing that our child will not be properly stimulated, I see this as a good opportunity to teach Isaiah about being adaptable and flexible in dealing with the various curveballs that life throws at us. Hopefully, this will be a good time of bringing the family closer together as we attempt to teach our children about what we value and be an example to them in dealing with crises by truly surrendering everything to God and letting Him take control.

Most importantly, in this time of uncertainty, I’m particularly reminded of what was written in the book of Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). May we constantly turn our faces to the Lord, trusting in His plans and knowing that we are secure under His protection.

On a lighter note, when life throws you lemons, make lemonade!

May everyone be kept safe and healthy during this period!

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