My plan had always been to join the Navy as a full-time National Serviceman (NSF).
And as things would have it, I was posted there after Basic Military Training (BMT). Only a small number of recruits get picked to join the Navy with each BMT batch.
That meant I escaped a more punitive and physically strenuous life in the Army. Certainly, the amount of tekan (punishments) and physical training we had in our one month training phase in the Navy was significantly less than I had experienced in BMT.
It was a culture shock for me, and I took awhile to register the fact that I had such a different lifestyle and schedule in the Navy compared to my Army friends.
When it comes to His gifts, all we can do is fall on our face and receive them with awe and humility, never taking the Giver for granted.
One day, heard from my close friend about the intense training programme he was in.
He was training to become a combat engineer – one of the vocational units in the Army known for the great deal of saikang (unpleasant tasks) that comes with the job.
But it wasn’t just the intensity of the training that startled me. Learning under demanding commanders, a punishment was meted out for every mistake in training. But the harsh environment failed to instil discipline amongst his peers, only frustration.
As I heard about his tough time in the combat engineers, I thought back to how the indiscipline of my peers (and myself included) in the Navy would sometimes go unchecked, and how our superiors would often threaten to take measures for our poor discipline but hardly did.
As I reflected, I realised that God has been so merciful to me even though I deserve nothing.
He granted the desires of my heart, and graciously prevented me from having an experience as negative as my friend’s.
I thought about how God showed me the same mercy in BMT. I completed my training by His grace, though I was on the verge of having to repeat BMT because of a sprained ankle. On top of that, I got into the vocation I had expressed interest in during my training phase. I had the idea that certain medical issues I had would diminish my chances of making the cut. But God made a way.
Everything seemed like a fairytale – too good to be true – as I thought of how everything was so nicely aligned for me. I was just so, so blessed.
I felt worthless but I didn’t know how to respond to it beyond suppressing it.
When I thought of my friend in the Army, I simply couldn’t understand why God would bless me over others? I felt I was least deserving of it because I had done and gone through so little compared to others.
I struggled with feeling inadequate and undeserving. I felt worthless but I didn’t know how to respond to it beyond suppressing it. But the more I bottled these feelings up, the further I was from understanding God’s grace and love for us. I slipped further and further away from the truth that Christ values me in His eyes.
I simply had to get this struggle with feeling worthless off my chest, so I confided in my friend about it. And as we discussed this issue, he reminded me that this heavy feeling of inadequacy was likely satanic in nature. The evil one wants to keep us thinking that we are too filthy to approach God because of our sins and rebelliousness.
As the conversation went on, I began to see that my value is found in God and who He says I am.
The idea that God still loves and blesses us despite all our shortcomings will always be hard to grasp, especially since none of us deserve it. After all, we would find it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to love someone when he or she has constantly wronged and betrayed us – let alone bless the person!
But as children of God nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). When it comes to His gifts, all we can do is fall on our face and receive them with awe and humility – never taking the Giver for granted.
It is normal to feel unworthy of what God has done for us. The reality is that we deserve death, yet God chose to give us life and life abundantly. But this knowledge should push us to gratitude – not guilt.
The evil one wants to keep us thinking that we are too filthy to approach God because of our sins and rebelliousness.
Never let feelings of inadequacy sour your relationship with God.
Let His love always remind us that our true identity and value is found in Him – in what was done on the cross for all of us.
And for those who have been blessed abundantly: Be a blessing to others, so that others may also be built up by what God has given us.
God is always faithful. He has His eye on the sparrow, which are of less value than us (Matthew 10:29). So if He watches over even them – how much more so us?
So let us keep returning back to His unwavering love whenever we feel inadequate. It is crazy to think God wants to bless us bountifully though we fail so often. We are all deserving of punishment rather than His favour. But this is our God!
He alone determines our worth.
* Author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.