While the Covid19 fatality rates may be low, it has caused a severe crisis and disruption in many sectors of society. And as countries join the list of cases, this is being multiplied across the world. It is a very severe crisis. We know that many businesses are very badly hit.
U.S President John F. Kennedy employed this phrase in some of his campaign speeches: "In the Chinese language, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity.” This idea became mainstream in the Western world in the 20th century and I am sure some of you would have heard or even employed this idea.
However, Chinese linguists and etymologists will disagree with this idea and explain that it was a mistranslation. This said, one reason why this idea may persist is because of one’s anecdotal observation of life. Or simply, it has moral value and power to encourage listeners during times of adversity. We did a lot of look-back during our Bicentennial last year. Taking our war years as an example, many opportunities arose from those 4 years of Japanese occupation which had a far reaching impact on the destiny of our church and nation. The cross-denomination solidarity within churches here would not have been the same without an ecumenical theological school like Trinity Theological College, which funnels many of our pastors and theologians. The idea for such a school was seeded in Changi Prison as church leaders were incarcerated and hobbled together during that period. And of course, the defeat of the British here and elsewhere in Asia signalled a post-colonial era of political independence. Out of the ashes, Singapore has succeeded quickly and brilliantly.
Even if the use of this idea as from a linguistic illustration is untrue, is it biblical? A book which spans a few millennials of human history will surely contain many accounts of "opportunities in crisis” and indeed that is so. The story of Joseph is littered with many turn-arounds. Joseph himself represented the story of how a life that was cast aside could, in times of crisis, find a larger significant and leadership voice. Or take the life of Jacob. He used many crises to advance his destiny, and his life in some way also represents that of the people of God.
More than anything else, a trust in God's sovereignty and control over our lives and human history can give us a different perspective towards setbacks as we believe that “all things work for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
If we think about the Cathedral, we can easily observe what lower attendances may result in; in terms of lost ministry opportunities and possible challenge to our financial health. In the midst of this, we have started new initiatives. As we live-stream our 8 am Service, a new channel is created for our worship service to reach out to many more, beyond those seated in the Nave. We have become more conscious of the need to upscale our approach to teaching through better use of video and online tools.
The new App has seen a significant increase in the use of SAC resources. Literally it is a season to “think out of the box.” Dots are being joined which are connecting SAC members to gifts and voices across our Cathedral and beyond this, to a wider world. Indeed, paraphrasing Isaiah 55:11, His Word that goes out from our mouths shall not return empty but accomplish that which He has purposed. Amen.
Personally, each of us are facing various challenges as well. Those with businesses and companies will be facing complex challenges. It can be a very stressful and depressing time for some. Let’s continue to pray for one another. May the Lord give you wisdom and strength to find new opportunities in your crisis.