“It’s okay, sweetheart. Meimei (little sister) doesn’t understand. Shall we let her have it? And Mama can get you more?”
We had said this over and over again.
But it hadn’t quite sunk in.
That when our baby, now growing into a rambunctious toddler herself, grabbed our older toddler’s cup of apple juice, there was always more juice in the kitchen.
Tears. Loud wails. Deep bawls.
Of course it took us no time to start giving our baby a cup of juice of her own.
But it made me wonder, if our older toddler’s plaintive cries and desperate need to defend her cup of apple juice was not in fact, reflective of our own perspective of what we own?
Just as how it is obvious to us parents that there is no need to fret, because there are two more cartons of juice in the fridge (and plenty more at the store!), could it also be obvious to our heavenly Father, even when we fret, that His resources can never run dry?
As we sink into recession, fear of the future has started to creep into the hearts of many. Many jobs have been lost, tears have been shed. Insecurity grows. For those in the non-profit sector, donations have slowly dried up.
During the acute phase of the pandemic, I remember thousands of dollars needed to be raised to develop, print and disseminate risk communication information to our migrant workers. Every time I received an invoice, I would pray- and the funds would come in just on the day itself- not earlier nor later.
As the work Kitesong Global did grew, so did our funding needs. Since we were incorporated in America, we needed to also be incorporated in Singapore as a charity- that cost money too. While we had a part-time staff from Canada helping with a great deal of our work, I always wondered if we would be able to sustain her next year, and the next. Ideally, she should be funded full-time.
It soon became apparent we would need staff in Singapore too. How could any of this be possible in a recession that would last a few years, when our work was to alleviate the crisis causing it?
It baffled me.
My cup of apple juice appeared half-empty. Never enough. And like my older toddler, I spent moments in solitude wrestling with the thought that my apple juice might run out.
Frustrated with some road blocks I had faced in our journey registering as a charity, I was connected to a well-known lawyer experienced in non-profit incorporation. When she mentioned her fees, my jaw dropped.
“$2500. And that’s just the pre-incorporation fees.”
A sense of needless shame overcame me. She was busy. I was wasting her time.
As she spent the next fifteen minutes telling me all about the work she did with various famous non-profits, my heart sank lower, as I tried to find a polite way to end the conversation.
Before I could, came her reply, “So I’m telling you all these stories to let you know I do do this kind of work pro bono-and there’s no need for you to feel bad because I’d like to do that for you too. Come to my office.”
Later that week, an email came in. “Just a show of support.”
What I had thought turned out to be twice the amount, more than enough to fund some special projects that had come in.
Yet, we were still a far cry from what was needed. Health campaigns cost thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands.
Since we weren’t incorporated in Singapore yet, how would we raise the funds?
A week later, I was called into a meeting at work.
Sitting across from me, the benevolent gentleman told me in no uncertain terms that his organization had arranged to undertake the costs of our health campaign for migrant workers. As a partner, they would take care of all the costs. All of the six figure costs that I had penned down regarding migrant workers for the next year would be covered.
I almost cried.
Even then, I was stretched. Without sufficient time or help, the work would not grow. The week after, a mentor called me to inform me our work had gained interest from the World Health Organization and they were interested to give us technical expertise to help us. My boss told me he understood I needed to move into this area full-time and gave me his full support.
Lord of the heavens and the earth. How abundant are His resources. How lavish is His grace.
Just as how I can’t imagine why it can be so challenging to convince our children that there is always more than enough juice at home, I wonder if God might sometimes feel the same bewilderment.
For He not only meets our needs, but exceeds them.
A few weeks ago when we brought our children “longkang fishing” (a kind of childhood activity where children use nets to catch fish in drains), two of the guppies gave birth to schools of fish. But without a proper tank, they would die eventually. With us moving homes on an average of once a year, moving countries every two years, and humanitarian work overseas still on the cards, investing in a tank felt like a whimsical indulgence.
After all, an aquarium! What excess, what luxury!
Surely it was not for us.
Weeks later, a father-and-son pair of friends brought Cliff to a fish shop. When they returned, Lo and behold, they shared they had brought the tank, pump, plants, probiotics for us as a gift! Afterwards, they spent more than an hour helping set up the beautiful aquarium in our home.
As the multi-colored school of fish swim carefree in the tank in our living room, I can’t help but see it as an ever-present reminder of the divine abundance God has, unlocked through the tiniest of faith.
After all, in Chinese, the word fish (yu) sounds like the word for “excess”, which is why fish symbolize prosperity in many Asian cultures.
As I recollect the story of the five loaves and two fishes, and how Jesus multiplied that to feed over 5000 men (not including women and children), I marvel that the story ends not with the fact that everyone had enough, but that there were twelve basketfuls left over.
As the Lord turned the course of our plans to head to a developing country next year, by calling us to stay put here for another year to help with building up the migrant worker health initiatives here with the WHO, how our hearts sank when our landlord rejected the extension of our lease.
At any time from now onwards, we could be given notice to leave.
Just the thought of moving yet again, our eighth major move in 8 years tormented me.
Yet, I was reminded, just as how He has always provided, shall He not provide again?
While I wished we had known from the start we would be staying here two years instead of one, I am learning, that the Lord of the heavens and earth, is the Lord of all.
While I wished that the funds offered would also cover the costs of staffing one or two full-time staff at Kitesong Global to help with the work, I know the Lord is teaching me greater patience, deeper trust.
Truly, even in a season of scarcity, can we impose our economy of the temporal on the order of the divine? Shall we limit the infinite through the finiteness of our faith?
These days, I look at our two growing children and remember to prepare not one, but two, cups of apple juice. I am learning, that while God has been merciful to show me His hand of providence through the series of miracles of late, it is but a glimpse of all He has for our lives.
Back in a heavenly kitchen, are endless cartons of apple juice. Back in another world, is an endless field of cherry red apple trees that glisten like rubies under the sun.
So friends, take heart. There is more than enough for our needs.
As I await in a mix of fear and anticipation at the next home He will lead us to, at how He will provide for the work He has for our next season here in Singapore, I am reminded that our Heavenly Papa always has enough for us- apple juice, an elaborate aquarium, a home, and so much more.