Now, while I was in hospital, I was definitely very very blessed and encouraged by all my family and the many friends and colleagues who stopped by and spent some of their time hanging out with me. The visits definitely made my stay in the hospital a lot more enjoyable, and like I mentioned often to them, left me with very little time to feel bored.
But it still didn't take away the fact that I could very possibly be dead by the end of the following week. It could be any number of things; the cancer suddenly spreading, complications during surgery, catching some other disease, the possibilities were endless, in a rather morbid, unwanted sort of way.
It didn't help that I was also starting to wonder about my faith, whether it was real or not, whether I had fallen away and not realised it, whether by my lifestyle, I had removed myself from being before God. It goes without saying, of course, that I was hardly living the most exemplary life. Sure, I looked and acted Christian, but there are definitely things that I wasn't proud of, and which I kept very well hidden.
It also didn't help that the last sermon I listened to in church before getting hospitalised (or at least, the last one I really remembered) was one of the hellfire and damnation ones that our church has been putting a bit more emphasis on recently (and a good idea too, if you ask me, since we've been focusing so much on God's grace and mercy that we sometimes forget His holiness and judgment). And I was really starting to worry that even though I thought of myself as Christian, perhaps it was only what I thought, and that the reality before God was that I had drifted away and not even realised it, and that if I died and found myself before the throne of Him above, I would find out, to my horror, that my name was no longer in the Book of Life and I would be banished from His presence.
Naturally of course, when people were around, this issue was put away in the back of my mind, but sometimes, when I was by myself, I would wonder. And pray. And wonder if the prayer was enough.
I had been thinking of telling Pastor Kee Oon (my YA pastor) when he came to visit on Saturday, but we had such fun talking and laughing that it completely slipped my mind. And so my fears were unaddressed.
At least, until God intervened.
Thing is, before Pastor Kee Oon came, he had been getting prompts to give me a passage from the Bible. And it was a rather specific one too, but like I mentioned, we had such good fun joking and stuff, and it also slipped his mind to mention it to me. But after he left and went back, the prompts started getting to him again. And he told me later he thought the verse wasn't the one he had thought of telling me, which probably had something to do with healing or how all things work for the good of those who love God. But the prompts got stronger, and the next morning, he sent me a message telling me that the Holy Spirit had been telling him to tell me to read a passage in Isaiah.
Now, for those of you who do know me, you would know that I am not particularly spiritually sensitive. In fact, I can be incredibly dense when it comes to this sort of thing. But as I read the passage, I started to tear almost immediately after scanning through it once, and it became extremely clear to me that God was speaking directly to me from a book that was more than 2,500 years old. This is the passage:
But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour...
- Isaiah 43: 1-3a
And just like that, all my fears of thinking that I had abandoned my faith and was no longer in God's favour disappeared. And even knowing that I might die by the end of the week was not as distressing as it had been.
And since the surgery was successful, it feels that I have been redeemed a second time, this time in the physical sense, and that I am now living, essentially, on borrowed time. It'll be up to me (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to make sure I use this time for something worthwhile in the name of God.