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The writer (left) celebrating the 83rd birthday of her father Vincent Dicom on July 19, 2016 with his good friend Fr Anthony Naden. Behind them is her brother Ashvin. Vincent Dicom passed away the following year, just four days short of his 84th birthday. Photo courtesy of: Agvina Dicom

Reflection: On which side of the coin are you during this Covid-19 pandemic?

We’re starting a new series where we publish personal reflections from readers like you. This is a space for you to tell us how God has been real in your life. You can write about how a sermon spoke to you, what a Scripture reading revealed to you about God, how an incident reminded you of something Jesus had said or done. This is your space. This article is the first in this series and the writer is one of our readers.

By Agvina Dicom AUG 4, 2020

When I was a child, my dear father would vividly share his memories of the Japanese occupation in Malaya during the World War II. He was a young boy then, barely eight years of age. He recalled of those days as being a period of uncertainty and fear, and how everyone was trying their hardest to adapt to the drastic reforms that were introduced by the Japanese military invaders. There were movement restrictions and curfews, food rationing was necessary as provisional supplies were scarce and there were many rules and regulations that the people were forced to adhere to. Defiance or rebellions against authority was intolerable and deemed punishable by death.

Listening to his sharings reminded me so much of the biblical stories of Moses – the great sufferings of the Hebrews under Egyptian oppression, the many plagues that were summoned upon Egypt and the stubbornness of Pharaoh in submitting to God’s commands to free His chosen people.

Very often, this made me contemplate on how those who went through these terrors of war, slavery and plagues would’ve felt. Never would I’ve imagined that there would come a period in this lifetime, where I would come to witness and experience a similar kind of anxiety and a feeling of loss of freedom and normality – until came Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic was an eye-opener to the realities and truths of life in this world. It was like sitting in the middle of a sinking boat where each person’s fate depended on the luck of the tossing of a coin. The sinking boat was the wide global panic and struggle of the world’s nations to overcome the increasing mortalities of human life, while the tossing coin having two different sides to show when flipped was just like the two different sides of earthly life.

In my daily journey throughout the pandemic period, I had the opportunity to see and experience both these sides.

There was the side of kindness and compassion where I witnessed a number of people who were understanding, patient, considerate, and brave in saving lives and reaching out to aid the needs of the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, the unemployed, the migrants and those who were mentally and emotionally troubled. These were the ones who gave their time and went out of their way to help those confused and struggling amidst the sudden changes of norm.

And then, there was the other side, the side of greed and selfishness. Here, one can witness self-centeredness, indifference, emotional manipulation, opportunistic behaviours of taking advantage of another’s misfortune, greedy profiteering from exorbitantly priced medical and food supplies, abuses endured by those living in social confinement with their abusers and the list goes on.

I pondered these things in my mind and at night when I lay down attempting to sleep, my thoughts were on all those who were suffering silently in their own miseries. Surely the Lord knows and sees their tribulations? Why does He allow such hardships to take place? Some say, the pandemic is God’s punishment and wrath. Is it true? Or is this viral outbreak a mishap of human doing, which the Lord foresaw yet allowed to pass, so that we may take responsibility for our actions and acknowledge the consequences of relying more on our human intelligence and not His divine wisdom and counsel?

In my heart, I would say “So many are the questions I have for thee, O’ Lord”, and each time I said this, He never tires to answer me through His Word. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who Love Him” (James 1:12). And what of they who are trapped in dire predicaments? Again, His Word echoed “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

And there it was the greatest challenge faced by every single one of us during the time of social isolation – the absolute surrender of oneself to God, regardless what our situations may be. In moments when my faith is tested, I myself have honestly found it hard to totally entrust myself unto God’s Hands and I’m still in the learning of how.

The happenings during the Covid-19 crisis gave me a chance to reflect on my own character, on the behaviours of those around me and on how we treat others who interact with us throughout this period. There are days when one feels hopeful and encouraged, and there are days when one’s spirit is downtrodden. On such days, I try to remind myself of this verse “Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to Whom you Belong” (Ephesians 2: 19-22).

My dear father often used to say “The best times to see a person’s true colours are during the times of crisis”, and his words resonated so well to a quote from an American story teller, James Lane Allen who said “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”

And so, just as the coin is tossed to choose a side, so we too have a choice during this pandemic crisis – to either choose to do good and give God’s Light unto others or to be inconsiderate and conduct self-serving acts. By God’s grace and fortitude then, may we always choose to do all things that are good and kind.

Feel free to send us your personal reflection for publication. Length should be between 300 and 800 words. Please email it to journeywithusasia@gmail.com.