Very few people know this, but I am a man of many fears. When I was growing up, I constantly feared that I was not capable of achieving any form of success in life. In secondary school, I was plagued with self-doubt and felt I was not smart enough to excel in school. After I somehow managed to scrape into law school, I found myself in a highly competitive environment where virtually everyone around me was a former Humanities Scholar or a GEP student – I dreaded speaking up in class and making a fool of myself in front of these intellectual superiors. Even when I began doing well in law school, I feared that one day my “lucky streak” would end and I would come crashing back to reality, which was mediocrity. In sports, even though I was blessed with natural sporting ability, self-doubt and fear of losing would almost cripple me during competition, and I did not excel in competition.
Yet, I have long felt that God constantly placed me in challenging and uncomfortable situations where I had to daily confront my fears. For example, despite feeling so inadequate about my abilities, I found myself in the most competitive department of one of the largest law firms in Singapore. Despite my fear of speaking, I ended up being a litigator, where I regularly attend Court to speak for hours on end, persuading the judge about the strengths of my clients’ cases. Even after being in practice for over 17 years, I do not feel truly comfortable in my profession.
In church, despite not liking the sound of my own voice, I found myself involved in worship ministry. And despite feeling that I am unable to take care of my own finances, I was given the opportunity to serve the church in the capacity as Treasurer.
Over the years, I have learnt that the only way I could cope with my fears and feelings of inadequacy was to (1) commit my plans to the Lord; (2) be diligent to do my very best; and (3) leave everything else in the good hands of our Father. I have learnt that although God has not taken away my fears, His grace and His peace are sufficient for me. And I have experienced God’s grace and favor whenever I humbled myself before Him and cast all my cares on Him – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty Hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
In my moments of greatest need, God has also revealed Himself to be a gentle and caring Father who is never slow to give me a word of assurance to overcome my fears and who attends to my every need. Earlier this year, when I was agonizing and struggling with a work issue, I prayed fervently for God to intervene and take control of the situation. When I opened the Bible, God let me to Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” A few months later, when I was praying about my struggles with a difficult employee who was threatening to cause trouble, God led me to Psalms 94:18-19 – “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” How comforting it is, to know that the God we serve is a caring and faithful God, who knows our every need!
I continue to have many fears, but I am no longer a slave to fear. I know that I am a precious child of God, who is my faithful source of strength and comfort. And I have learnt that I can effectively overcome my fears by laying them at the foot of the cross. So can everyone who turns to Him.
By Shem Khoo, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 11&12 November 2017)