It is my custom to write a reflection to end each year before stepping into the new year ahead. But during the end of 2014, I was on a brief vacation in a Southeast Asian country, and it was already past the threshold of the new year by the time I returned. As a result, I missed the reflection all together. But it's now the Chinese New Year (thank God for the ridiculousness of multiple new years within a year!), so I'm seizing a second chance to make up for this neglect.
The past year has been a very challenging year for me, as I was faced with a moral situation right from the beginning of the year and had to decide if I wanted to take the right course of action or stand down when it was time to be firm on an issue of integrity. As a result, the year started off horribly, and it became even worse when I chose to make what I felt to be a right decision given a critical situation.
There were some important lessons that I learned from this experience. Firstly, I learned that we must never underestimate evil and the extent of dishonesty and immorality in this world. When we come across something that falls short of the dictates of our conscience, it is important that we must summon every ounce of courage within ourselves to decidely sever ourselves from evil associations even if it threatens to come back and bite us. This may mean our getting harmed, even killed, in the process, but we cannot put a price to righteousness.
Secondly, we must never assume that "righteous" people around us will defend us when we are in trouble. More likely than not, even people whom we look up to for their sense of morality would distance themselves from us in a spirit of self-preservation when our reputation is threatened. The journey towards the cross is often one that we must walk alone, or at best, with only one or two others who are willing to die with us. The others may never (want to) find out the exact truth; they just want to stay out of trouble.
Thirdly, there is always a resurrection after the death when we make the journey with a clear conscience. Even if some mistakes have been made in good conscience along the way, God has a way of redeeming and defending us. Perhaps His aid does not come in a very visible way, but He does turn up at the most unexpected moments. In His own way, He restores and vindicates us.
The year that began so painfully ended beautifully because there was a resurrection. It ended in a way that I never expected it to. At the same time, it was important that I learn certain life lessons through this irreplacable experience. I realise that when God allows us to have people in our lives who bring us pain and suffering, it is never accidental or wasted; something valuable always comes from the depth of such experiences.
The greatest virtue that I have acquired this past year is COURAGE. Had I never encountered difficult people and difficult situations, I would never have to summon the courage to transcend and fulfil what God wanted me to do, always depending on others who were not meant to be fulfilling my divinely allocated task. One year later, I am now a much braver man and I'm willing to take important risks to fulfil what I feel God wants me to. It has been a very difficult journey but it was worth every bit of the sweat and the tears.
"The greatest virtue that I have acquired this past year is COURAGE. Had I never encountered difficult people and difficult situations, I would never have to summon the courage to transcend and fulfil what God wanted me to do, always depending on others who were not meant to be fulfilling my divinely allocated task."
With courage and, hopefully, faith, I await the onset of the year that is 2015 (which I already find myself in). This may be a year that requires more courage and tenacity to cling on to God. Those who are studied in politics and economics foresee a trying year for everyone around me; perhaps the courage I have attained from the previous year is to be offered to those whom I meet this year.