“I’m in Jakarta. It’s so funny how you always reach out to me when I’m thinking about some life-changing decisions.”
As I scrolled through the messages that Joy had sent me and stopped at this one, a wave of regret came over me.
Over Chinese New Year, the strong prompting to message Joy hit me. I made a mental note, but forgot about it in the frenzy of the festive period while also juggling to care for my three children.
On February 15, that reminder returned, but I procrastinated again. What I did not realise was that the hesitation cost me the chance to catch Joy before she fell into a coma.
Joy is currently fighting the complications from lupus and straddling the gates of life and death.
Jing (my affectionate name for Joy) and I have known each other for 28 years, and we share a rather unique friendship. As two individuals with vastly different interests from food to fashion, it is hard to believe we are best friends.
We started on a bad note because I cried too often in class in primary school. Having to sit beside me and watched me cry was baffling for her.
In fact, we only started to talk because of a classmate who refused to share colour pencils with us. She spoke out about the classmate’s selfishness as she had a set of 24 colour pencils and could not spare one or two.
And no, we did not get any colour pencils that day. That is Joy for you — as the voice of reason, she would always stand up for what she felt strongly about, and in a kind and respectful manner.
We were in the same schools all the way to junior college, sharing the same classroom for almost half of our lifetime in the education system.
We witnessed each other’s first heartbreaks, failures in math exams, our struggles with puberty (usually me more than her) and our encounters with God.
From classmates to sisters in Christ
“You’re like my messenger from God. I always want to ask you what He said.”
When I came to know the Lord, Joy was happy for me, though surprised at my decision.
I invited Joy to church and still remembered when she rushed out of the chapel during worship to the toilet, complaining that the music was too loud and she could not breathe.
We spent the entire service in the toilet, and only returned when my pastor came looking for us. After asking if Joy was feeling alright, my pastor went on to share the gospel with her.
Joy said the Sinner’s Prayer, but later shared with me that she had agreed because she did not want to disappoint my pastor.
My response to her was: “Well, you said it and God has heard it, so He will honour His word through your prayer. “
Throughout the years of our friendship, we have had many intimate conversations. For instance, Joy shared with me that she wanted to live a life without regret.
She desired to provide for her family and treat them well, especially her parents.
She pursued her passion for the arts and took the bold step of taking violin and piano lessons in her late 20s while working alone in Hong Kong.
She wanted to travel to 30 countries before she turned 30, which she did.
She worked hard and made an honest living, with her only indulgence being food and books.
Her joys in life were simple too. Joy was the name she chose for herself — in reference to the happiness that she sought from the simple things in life.
I continued to pray for her as we moved along on different trajectories, from our varsity years to working life.
There were times when I would feel a prompting to connect with her again. That’s when I would find out about her struggles, the crossroads she was at and her search for direction.
Hence her nickname for me — the messenger.
Sometime back, Joy took a sabbatical to rest from all her hustling and travelling for work.
She took that time to reflect and plan, setting goals for her work and personal life in the years to come. She started working again last year and was well until a few weeks ago.
Even as she lies in her hospital bed now, I remember this familiar verse from the Bible.
“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)
Joy is fighting for her life
As a medically trained individual, the reports and updates we have received from her family have not been all optimistic.
I write this with hope that Joy will wake up to read this and shudder with embarrassment because of how I have shared about her life on a public platform.
She is definitely putting up a good fight with this disease. May the grace of God continue to sustain her.
For the devil comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy, but Jesus has come to give life and life abundantly.
In my own reflection, God challenged me and asked me how I would stand in the gap for my dear friend at an hour like this.
Friends have rallied in prayer over Zoom calls and walks in the hospital. I believe our prayers sowed will not be wasted.
I extend that same invitation to you as you read this, to raise your prayer swords and partner with us in interceding for Joy.
If you are facing a similar challenge in your life, may you gather courage to rise up in prayer.
For the devil comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy, but Jesus has come to give life and life abundantly (John 10:10).
While we may never fathom the reason of why this has happened, we believe God’s purpose will be revealed in perfect timing.
The perfect love and plan that God has for Joy, her family and friends is one we can rest in, knowing that He has her best interests at heart.
Jing, I pray that you do not need me as a messenger anymore because God is speaking to you at your bedside.
I pray that you will experience His assurance and His healing provision, for a miracle touch to restore your body and warmth that will envelop your body.
I love you so much and can’t wait to hear your chatter on our usual date for your birthday in 2 weeks’ time.
Would you join Joy’s loved ones in praying? Pray for:
- the power and glory of God to be displayed.
- a miraculous healing for Joy.