At the start of 2021, I had to leave my job amid the pandemic because my dad had asked me to go back home to Malaysia to help with a family affair.
By then, I had been working with my employer in Singapore for five years and I had just been promoted and given a pay raise.
I couldn’t imagine how I was going to find my next job and be able to come back to Singapore, not to mention all the bills I had to pay.
However, at that point it came down to a choice between my job and my dad.
And so, even though it was tough, I made the hard decision of going back to my hometown.
A few months down the road, when things were getting better and I began to have more time for myself, I started looking for jobs online.
I wanted a job where I could earn extra income on the side and work from home so I could be with my dad.
So when I chanced upon this link for some commission-based work on boosting sales for online platforms, I thought of giving it a go.
Before signing up, I even went to look up the company and read up on them and everything looked legitimate.
But it turned out to be a scam. I ended up losing a huge sum of money, which put me in debt as I had taken loans from a few close friends, and so I had to tell them about the situation.
The incident was also a blow on my relationship as my boyfriend was the one who first helped me out with a bit of money, trusting me that I’d be able to earn it back.
In the aftermath, we did what we could — we filed a police report and discussed our thoughts on the incident.
Even though I felt so guilty thinking about how much I owed him, we were able to talk it out and commit it to God, knowing that there was nothing else to be done at that point.
Even so, I quickly sank into a deep depression.
It felt like I could forgive everyone else involved in this incident: the scammers, friends who disappeared on me after learning what had happened, my mentors who were more concerned about my boyfriend’s state — but I just couldn’t forgive myself.
Negative thoughts began to fill my mind constantly: No one would love me anymore. I’d be better off dead so that people around me would be happier. I am worthless.
I knew that these thoughts were unhelpful, but I didn’t know how to get rid of them.
A couple of weeks before our church’s weekend retreat, I asked to see the church’s healing and deliverance team about this issue.
I had gone to them 10 years ago to seek counselling for other issues, and I knew I couldn’t resolve my current state on my own.
I also couldn’t go on carrying this baggage, as it was affecting all my relationships, not to mention my involvement in the retreat as well.
With the help of the counsellor, I identified the negative thoughts as coming from Satan, who is the father of all lies (John 8:44).
God holds on to my hand and will help me (Isaiah 41:13), He loves me and faithfully stays by my side (Psalms 117:2), He sees all that I’m troubled with, and He sustains (Psalms 55:22).
All these negative thoughts had formed a “fortress” in my mind such that it prevented me from accessing God’s forgiveness, so I learnt to tear down the fortress by “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
This meant learning to use His words and promises to counter and combat those negative thoughts.
When I feel anxious and inadequate or unworthy, He reminds me that He holds on to my hand regardless and will help me (Isaiah 41:13), He loves me and faithfully stays by my side (Psalms 117:2), He sees all that I’m troubled with, and He sustains (Psalms 55:22).
At the end of the session, I followed the prayer the counsellor taught me to release forgiveness to myself.
At the retreat, God reminded me that I am not forgotten and that He is with me regardless of the situation. As I positioned myself once again to listen to Him, His arms are wide open, waiting to receive me back.
One time, I passed by a flower shop and this image of an eternal flower covered by a dome came to mind, which reminded me of how God had covered and protected me through the scam.
He had first sent friends to warn me, and even when the worst happened, He ensured that I was able to pull through.
He also allowed me to see that finances isn’t everything, even as He has provided me more than enough to pay off the debts in two years.
Indeed, He brought a different light to this verse: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I used to think that the plans He has for me probably involves career and directions.
Now He has showed me that “plans to prosper” do not necessarily mean prospering financially — He prospers us spiritually by drawing us closer to Him so we would fully depend on Him.
Even while I was in that dark tunnel, He was there. He used this dark period to quiet me and reveal to me where He has been all this time, amidst the chaos in my life.
Today, I can testify of His goodness and love for me.
He has opened the doors for me to come back to Singapore and provided me a job that’s brought me more than what I need daily, allowing me to save enough so I can pay off the huge debts within the next two years.
His love and sustenance have come through in many other ways.
A friend helped me through the tough period by providing me a loan and giving me a five-year runway to repay the amount.
Another friend bought me dinners and gave me a small red packet to tide me through the difficult times.
My parents continued to look after me in many small ways, giving me things I needed most even though I had not asked for them.
My boyfriend has stayed with me despite the huge mistake I’d made and continues to journey through life with me. He has proposed and we are currently preparing for marriage.
As I meet God daily and spend time with Him, allowing Him to reveal truths about His love and grace for me, I’ve learnt to listen to and trust His voice rather than my own or the lies of Satan. My identity and anchor are in Him.
If you are currently in the dark valley and it seems that there is no one beside you, know that you are not alone.
God is there with you, looking out for you. You may feel that you are worthless, but He says you are worthy. You may feel that no one understand, but He does.
He is always waiting for you to come back to His embrace wherever you are. Be rested and centred upon His love.
This article was first published on YMI and is republished with permission.
- What is the greatest setback you have ever faced?
- How can you trace the hand of God in that period?
- The next time you face a struggle, how can you better rely on the grace of God and others?