Maturing in our Faith
By Alex Ling & Jasmine Tan
Hello Bethel family! We have missed you during this past year. Between learning to live life with a newborn at the beginning of the year and the isolation brought by the pandemic later on, it has been a rare blessing when we were able to spend time with you—and even rarer that we could see you in person. Unfortunately, this will not change for us with the new year. Alex was offered a postdoc position in Boston, and we moved there in December. As such, we have been asked to write this LIFEline as a chance to say farewell and to reflect on our reliance on faith through life’s many transitions.
There has been much that required our faith over the past few years. When we moved to Minnesota at the end of 2017, we had been married for less than a year and had been unexpectedly uprooted when Alex’s PhD advisor moved from the University of Chicago to the University of Minnesota. We had little idea what to expect in this new place as we searched for a new church, new friends, and a way to continue our disrupted careers. We are in a similar position now as we begin anew in Boston, though with considerably more warning and choice in the matter this time. Of course, our biggest transition over the past few years has been our transition into parenthood with the birth of our son, James—bringing with it all of the joys, insecurities, and tiredness involved with such a venture.
Perhaps the most difficult part of all of these transitions has been dealing with uncertainty. Questions about whether we would be happy or successful in our new circumstances. Would our son be healthy? Would we be good parents? It would be nice to say that we shrugged off such worries with unshakable faith in God’s Goodness, but we did not always do so.
Over the years we have spent many sleepless nights anxiously worrying, often about things beyond our control. Most of the things we worried about have turned out fine, even fantastic, in the end, but some of our fears have come true as well as well as some unexpected tragedies. Alex lost years of work when his thesis project from Chicago couldn’t be continued in Minnesota. Our childcare plans for James were thrown into turmoil when COVID-19 made international travel difficult, preventing Jasmine’s parents from staying to help as we had planned and forcing us to take months of unplanned leave from work. Alex’s cousin unexpectedly died two weeks before Christmas and mere hours before his nephew’s birth, devastating his family at a time when the pandemic makes gathering for support difficult.
We point out these difficulties not to suggest that our life has been hard (we are incredibly blessed in many, many ways), but because such events have matured our faith in ways that those many blessings did not. They have reminded us that we cannot, and should not, expect God to always shield us from life’s adversities.
Our faith is much better than that.
Our faith is in God’s good and eternal plans for our salvation. No adversity can change that. However difficult or easy life becomes, however massively our plans fail or succeed, we will be with God and His people for all eternity in the new creation. And, of course, there are many blessings in this world as well, such as the blessing we’ve had in knowing you. Though we lose that blessing for now, it is only temporary. Until we see you again in eternity, may God bless you all with His wonderful and eternal hope.