I’m a 19-year-old polytechnic student who had an ordinary life just like most of my peers. 

I had a good education, a wide social circle of friends and a part-time job that gave me a stable allowance. I also served in church, leading a cell group and attending church services regularly. 

My life was just as ordinary as anyone else’s – until the most unexpected curveball was flung my way. 

On one weekday morning in the middle of my March holidays this year, I was awoken by a call. 

My sister, aged 15, had collapsed in school in the middle of recess, and her teachers were in the process of giving her CPR. 

As soon as the phone call ended, my parents and I rushed down to the Emergency Department of Singapore General Hospital. 

By the time we reached the hospital, doctors were already in the midst of delivering advanced cardiac life support.

I was allowed entry to the resuscitation room, and there was where I saw my sister for the last time alive, her heart beating only because of the ventilators.

The doctors’ efforts to save her were futile, and my sister was pronounced dead in less than two hours from the time I received the call. She had no pre-existing medical conditions.

Seeing her lifeless body in the hospital was an experience I never thought I would have to go through. The pain was indescribable, and the sorrow overwhelming.

This tragic incident brought my life to a standstill.

Difficult thoughts, dark days

My sister was someone very close to my heart.

She was someone who shared the same family experiences that I did and understood how I felt at home.

A person I could confide in, knowing that the things I shared with her would be kept top-secret.

A family member who could always be found sitting at the dining table, doing her schoolwork.

Suddenly, all of that was gone.

Ever since that day, and for months to come, I had many thoughts running through my head.

  • “How could someone so young die for seemingly no reason?”
  • “God has plans for us, but was it God’s plan for her to die?”
  • “Why is it that as I choose to serve God and His Kingdom more, He still allowed such a painful experience to happen to me?”
  • “Does God know how I feel when He allows such things happen?”

Already having been clinically diagnosed with depression a few months before this happened, my emotional and mental wellbeing went downhill after my sister’s sudden passing.

I spent many sleepless nights with those questions running through my head.

A lot of my time was spent questioning God for why such things could happen to my family.

No matter how much others tried to console me, I was lost in my grief.

Furthermore, I couldn’t find someone who was around my age, who had experienced a similar death of a loved one, who could relate to how I felt.

Looking back, I realise that such seasons make it easy for us to doubt and blame God.

Being a church leader didn’t make me less susceptible to those feelings of doubt and grief.

It’s easy to say that God is good when we are in seasons of having plenty, but in seasons when God seems so distant – it’s a different story.

God meets us where we are

Nevertheless, even in such moments when I felt like God wasn’t there for me when I needed Him, I am thankful I was still able to make it a point to seek Him.

Grief is something that definitely takes time to journey through, and each one of us grieves differently.

By God’s grace, He placed spiritual mentors and leaders around me, people who I am close to, to point me back to Him.

Still, it wasn’t easy. I spent many days and nights contending with God, seeking Him each day and asking God to reveal more of Himself to me – to help me cling on to Him.

People may fail us. Life’s events may hurt us. But the truth of God’s Word remains constant even when circumstances change.

What I learnt was that even when it seems like no one on earth understands how we feel, God does.

As our creator, God knows us inside out – this was something I was constantly reminded of.

I was also comforted by Psalm 34:18 which reads: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

People may fail us. Life’s events may hurt us. But the truth of God’s Word remains constant even when circumstances change.

This verse is now one of the promises that I hold on to.

I know that even though grief may be overwhelming, God is never far from me – He understands and is close to me.

But how about the other question: Why does God let unexpected things happen to us?

Another verse spoke to me, as I weighed this question in my heart.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God’s plan is perfect. It’s easy to say that when we are doing well.

But in my experience, it took much wrestling with God and time spent crying out to Him to recognise that His ways are better.

In times when we find it senseless to praise God, all the more must we choose to lift our hands in faith to recognise that God is good.

We need to look at what He has already done, and focus on what He is going to do. God is not done with us yet.

God is still good

By doing this, God helped me to see that He is a God who is faithful.

Though my sister passed on to be with the Lord, many had the opportunity to hear about this Jesus who my sister had a personal relationship with. 

Indeed, by God’s grace, my cousin and uncle who attended the wake accepted Jesus into their lives!

Even though my sister is no longer on this earth, her legacy of what she has done for Christ still lives on till this day and will carry on.

Her life was a living testimony of the goodness of God.

In this season, I have learned to walk by faith and not by sight.

Though circumstances may be difficult, God holds the world and universe in His hands. He holds us in His hands.

I now understand what it means, that God is one who comforts us (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Though some seasons are more painful than we want it to be – to the point of even experiencing the death of our loved ones – our seasons are not going to waste.

We are being grown and pruned, to be a canvas of God’s masterpiece.

I still am in the process of grieving, but I thank God that even in this process I can find comfort and strength in Him.

If you are in a season like this – struggling to see how God is working in your life; maybe even facing your loved one’s death – may I suggest that God is still working for our good and for His glory.

In His time, He will reveal His plans for us, which are far greater than any we can have for ourselves.

One of my favourite songs, Seasons, put it this way:

Though the winter is long
Even richer the harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs
Even greater,
Your promise for me
Like a seed,
I believe that my season will come

Indeed, God uses every season to help us grow towards Him.

So let us cling on to Him with an expectant heart, having faith that He can use even the worst situations to transform our lives in ways we do not expect.

  1. What is the saddest you have ever been in your life?
  2. What got you through that period?
  3. What are some promises of God you can cling to in dark days?
  4. When you face difficult times in the future, what is one promise of God you will hold on to?