Dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus says in Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it”.

After the appointment with the Cardiac Clinic in NUH on the 4 May for treadmill and heart scan, followed by another appointment on the 7 May to review the results, I thank the Lord that blocked arteries and a probable heart condition were ruled out by the doctor. My faintness from time to time could be due to the brain not having enough oxygen or a sudden drop of blood pressure, and the chest pain could be due to insufficient supply of blood to the heart and muscle strain. However, the doctor recommended a cholesterol test to be taken if I wanted to be assured of a clean bill of health to live longer.

An excerpt in Wednesday’s Straits Times carried a piece of foreign news: in bold in the margin it said, “Long life’s due to genes, says the expert”. According to Dr Barzilai, people who want to live to 100 should not worry about their lifestyle because whether they do or do not is likely to be determined by their genes. Those who lived very long lives are genetically programmed to do so. Living a healthy life might increase life expectancy by a few years only, but would not help to live a much longer life. He went on to say, “In five to ten years, people will take a pill, starting at 40 and their lives will be longer”.

Is life in our own hands, in the longevity expert’s hand or in God’s Hand?

God is in control:

Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.

Our lives are in God’s Hand; He is not only aware but is in control of everything that is happening around us. Though we are dust in our make up, God did not look down on us to cast us away. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints: how much more the living, and God has acknowledged your preciousness by sending His Son to die for you. God’s taking notice of every little detail in our lives can be illustrated by what Jesus says, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows”.

God unites us to Himself: Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Our earthly lives are in the Hand of God and as long as He wants us to live, we live and nothing will separate us from Him or from His love. The physical death is an inevitable event to come to each of us but it is only a temporary separation. All believers are united with Him in His death and resurrection. Our sinful and evil propensities died with Him on the cross and we rose with Him in the newness of life. If Christ is holding our lives in His Hand, what is it that we may be afraid or to be frightened of? Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Let not your heart be troubled”.

E is for Eyes on Eternity

My dear readers,

1. Victorious in Death

She was the ever loving Mummy to our three daughters (and granddaughter). She would never have left us, except that her Lord sent for her. In the words of Job, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). We thank and praise God for His wise appointment. Today it may not be altogether understood, but one day it will all be made plain.

For Mum, she had suspected her time was not far off. When her aortic leak was discovered some years ago, we were alerted to the possibility of an aneurysm developing. When it was revealed by X-ray studies that indeed a 6-cm wide balloon had formed, and causing symptoms, surgical intervention seemed inevitable.

Mum, without hesitation, took the decision calmly (as she always did), chose her surgeon and hospital. Man proposed, God disposed. She was ready, but not her body: her body systems were failing one by one. The signs were evident. On the third post-operative day, the “outward man” gave way to the “inward man” (2 Corinthians 4:16). It was victory in death – “absent from the body… present with the Lord” meant instant and glorious victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:57).

2. Mum will be remembered lovingly

Not only lovingly but longingly by those who had worked with her: during her years with the Maternal and Child Health Clinic (in British “City Council” days 1953–64), over ten good years. Then she opened her own Cytology Laboratory (1966–1995), the first in Singapore, employing a staff of nine girls (some were sent by her to Perth for training). To all categories of staff, she extended to them warm and motherly care. The same applied to her domestic staff, through fifty years.

Solomon’s words in Proverbs 31:10-15, 20-28 is a fitting description of Mum: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. … She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple: Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

3. What was the “Cause of Death”?

Technically, the procedure was faultless. But Mum’s body succumbed to “systems failure”. In the past few years, her hearing progressively failed. Then other systems followed. As the Apostle Paul said, “…though our outward man perish…”. This refers to the physical person, which is in the “dying process” as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3), nevertheless, in Christ, “…the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). That describes every believer’s sure hope.

So for the past few years, a progressive and spreading “systems failure” had caused Mum to lose weight, and the function of her digestive and excretory systems: her “outward man” could not withstand the stress of the 8-hour surgery. The physical process took its toll on the entire body: it was a “losing battle” for her 83-year-old frame.

“In Adam all die… in Christ all… alive”

Looking back, it was good and timely that God called: Mum had “fought a good fight… finished her course…” (2 Timothy 4:7). To let the body recover from the surgery was to send Mum back into the former “unequal contest” of trying to cope with “failing systems” of heart and circulatory system, ears, digestive systems, bones and joints of the locomotor system, and other systems – perishing under the continual stress and strain, wear and tear, an unequal contest of “sure defeat”. The Creator knew how best to give Mum the needed rest. As I recall, all her simple daily routines eg. taking her meals, cleaning up, moving about – all required “double time” or “triple time”, and left her exhausted.

Today, Mum is at rest in “Abraham’s bosom”, waiting for the coming “Day of the Lord” and the change promised all those “in Christ”. On that day, Mum and all other “sons of God” shall be wondrously transformed to be like the Lord, with new bodies (1 John 3:2) – alive and well for evermore! Our God is able! Praise the Lord.

(Dr SH Tow’s wife was called home to be with the Lord. Below is a testimony Dr Tow has written in Calvary Pandan BPC weekly about her homegoing.)