In my weaknesses, people can see God’s strength

In my weaknesses, people can see God’s strength

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1 January 2011

In my weaknesses, people can see God’s strength

I was admitted to hospital in September 2002 for respiratory problems, after a long bout of flu. It was quite an experience, to say the least, because it could have been a life and death situation for me. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I got through that critical period and I could feel the Lord’s presence throughout my stay in hospital.

For me, the shadow of death lurks closely due to my physical condition. I have Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder affecting one out of every 3500 boys. The disease causes one’s muscles to weaken and degenerate, leading to severely weakened limbs. I was diagnosed with the disease when I was six years old, which by then I already had difficulty running, jumping and climbing stairs. I could still walk until I was ten years old; after that I had to rely on a wheelchair to move around. I could not do many things normal people take for granted. Even on a wheelchair, I had trouble pushing myself around as my arms are weak.

As a young boy, I naturally questioned God why I was different from other kids. Why was I like this, why me? Why couldn’t I do what my friends do, like kick a football or play on the slide? Thankfully, the grace of God and the Bible gave me the strength not to be angry and bitter about my condition. In time, I realized that there were basically two choices for me: I could blame God for giving me this affliction, get angry at the world and be miserable all my life. Or I could choose to count my blessings and put my trust in the Lord to help me through the obstacles of life.

I thank God that although I couldn’t walk, He had given me a loving and understanding family. He had also given me a cheerful disposition to help me look beyond my disabilities and focused on His other blessings. I felt that through it all, my patience was ‘well-trained’; I am now less anxious, not quick-tempered, and more gracious to others. Even with this disease casting a shadow over my life, it doesn’t get me down because of the promises of our Heavenly Father. And we do have a whole Bible of assurances that more than defeats all the negative thoughts, which have reared their heads more times than I would have liked. But again, Jesus said if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can just tell the mountains to move and it will be done. This is the motivation that helped me through my many trials.

As I got past my 21st birthday, which was a wonderful blessing, I started to have breathing problems because of the deteriorating muscles. Most DMD sufferers have problems with breathing by the time they hit their twenties, so even a small illness like the flu can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia. Most DMD patients have a relatively short life span (about 28 years) but I know my days are numbered by God, the greatest physician in the whole universe. At my age, being alive and well is indeed a great bonus!

The day I was admitted to hospital in 2002 could have been my last. I had a strange sense of peace instead of fear as I believed that if it was time, then God knows best. Therefore, even though I do not know about tomorrow, and how much time I have, all I need to do is to put my trust in our Lord Jesus, and in Him we have eternal life. Accepting that death is inevitable has an impact on my faith. Since Christ has conquered death when He was crucified, what more do I have to fear, if I put all my trust in Him?

Psalm 23 has been my favorite. God has promised; “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It was with this assurance that I got by my critical time in hospital.

Wonderfully, as the Lord willed it, my breathing improved and I felt God’s healing touch every day. The doctors also introduced me to a breathing apparatus that aids those with weak lungs. That was another blessing from God, since with the machine I could now enjoy a degree of quality-of-life.

My faith was strengthened during the week-long hospitalization in 2002. I found a new direction in my life. I felt that I was being led to encourage those who are in similar situation, as well as to encourage their families. Maybe that is God’s calling for me, to encourage and to refresh those who have Muscular Dystrophy. I want to be an example in living a life of cheerful acceptance, of treasuring a God-given life, of really counting every blessing in life. Most importantly, I want to share the gift of salvation by showing other patients how Jesus can be our friend in our disabilities.

After I was discharged from hospital, I joined the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS). I am one of the oldest patients in MDAS, (I can be called a dinosaur in terms of my age!) which says a lot about the grace I have been given. Through my frequent online chats with the other DMD patients, I always point them to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I understand the difficulties they face each day, their struggle for normalcy and acceptance, their fears and their need for an anchor in the storm. I’m thankful that I can share the love of Christ with them.

In closing, I would like to quote 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 which has been a source of encouragement.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

For me, I am most certain that through my disabilities, God’s power can be seen by others. What I am not, He is. In my weaknesses, people can see God’s strength. We rely not on ourselves but only on Almighty God! Isn’t the Lord wonderful?

Author: Eugene Hwang (Eugene went home to the Lord on 18 May 2013. He was 32 years old. Eugene’s mother worships at the 7 am Sunday Service.)

First published in The Courier, January 2011.

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