Paul Paul

My students used to call me “HuiHui”.  I am also fond of addressing others in this manner such as NaNa and SamSam.  In this sharing, I introduce you to two people, Paul and Paul, whom I learn some valuable life lessons.

I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and appreciated the author’s pursuit of excellence in his calling as a neurosurgeon as well as his learning of life, death, and meaning amidst his personal struggles against cancer.  “The question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living” (Kalanithi, 2016, p.71). I learn from Paul to treasure my breath as God’s gift of life (Genesis 2:7). When I am anxious feeling like one in the midst of a riot (Acts 19), I can take a deep breath and sense God’s presence in my life.  He knows and is in control. I am tasked to complete His calling while I breath, live, move, and have my being. It matters to God how I begin and end each task, with gratitude, integrity and commitment, being mindful of the people, the process, and the end product. What a great read!

I am equally impressed by the apostle Paul’s pursuit of excellence in his calling as a missionary as well as his learning of life, death and meaning amidst his struggles against persecution and hardship.  In his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.  I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plot of the Jews.  You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.  I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20: 18-24).  In the eyes of the world, humility and tears may be deemed as signs of weakness.  However, Paul was glad to boast of his weakness (2 Corinthians 11:30) as it manifests God’s grace in his life (2 Corinthians 12:9).  When I am overwhelmed or distressed, I often break down in tears. Paul’s farewell address gives me a new perspective in my current struggles.  With great humility and many tears, Paul chose not an easy path, but instead strived to please God by submitting to His Lordship and relying on His guidance.  Learning from Paul, I am not ashamed of serving the Lord with humility and tears when I am stretched and tested through trials and tribulations. With humility and tears, those who follow Christ may be pressed but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Biblically speaking, finding meaning in this mortal life with an eternal perspective is not an exercise of one’s willpower, but a transformation with the renewal of the mind (Romans 12:1-2).  
Kalanithi, P. (2016). When breath becomes air. New York: Random House.

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