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The Present

March 19, 2020 by Flo Au (Hong Kong, China)

I am more than thrilled when I received the invitation to write again for The Upper Room. I love to write, and I particularly like to write for The Upper Room as I can openly share my feelings and belief without the need of thinking about how to polish my work, what language features and rhetorical devices I should use. Everything can naturally come from within, from the bottom of my heart. So, I do treat it as a present from God for me to write here.  

In recent days, the place I live in has been quite chaotic with an air of fear, discomfort, and agitation. We have been suffering from months of social movements with divided opinions among the locals—resulting in broken relationships between friends and families—and then now the series of unfortunate events has not yet ended. It has come to the spread of coronavirus. Because of such a highly contagious virus, most of us, adults and children, are trapped at home to avoid gatherings—due to the suspension of school, work and other social activities. Whenever we go out now, we need to wear masks, put our glasses on and prepare hand sanitizers in our bags. Indeed, watching news these days, I have found such fear and worry has even spread to other places, where they have confirmed diagnostic cases of the virus. I remember a few months ago, some of my friends talked about relocating to other places. Now, it seems that there is actually nowhere to go. The whole world is in a great panic with virus and other different problems like wildfires and pest issues.  

“Live in the present. Live for today.” These words have been lingering in my mind these days. Some people provide the reason for such a line—only the present time is real. Yes, it is so real that we cannot escape from it, and it is so real that the pain is so intense and imminent. Now we all behold the hope that this present moment of virus and chaos can pass away soon and the order can be restored. Apparently, the present fails us. How can we live for today without grimaces and grumbling? I am thankful that I am a Christian, which to me means that I know the truth and possess hope. This to me means that during difficult times—which do exist all the time and I do whine and sigh incessantly like everyone else—at least I can lean into a lighthouse. In fact, I can dwell in it to seek warmth and solace in the darkness, and then regain some energy to move forward. I do not need to think, as sometimes our own thinking will just lead us further into our own anguish. Life can then return to being simple moments of tranquility because of the truth, hope, and promise embedded in God’s word. I see God’s truth, hope, and promise in Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (NRSV). And in Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (NRSV). This is what I have been experiencing. May God lead all of us, regardless of nationality, gender, age, and all other categories, out of the darkness and give us strength to walk on his path. Amen.

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The Upper Room magazine's mission is to provide a practical way to listen to scripture, connect with believers around the world, and spend time with God each day.

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