Haze in Singapore 2013: Responding Like Everyone Else?

IMG_5070Okay, there’s no denying it. It’s the worst haze our country has ever experienced and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Like everyone else, I do not enjoy the smell of smoke, the itchy eyes, the stuffy nose and the dryness in my throat. Like everyone else, I do not like being cooped up at home without being able to open my windows, wondering if my next electricity bill would look like the ever-rising PSI. Like everyone else, I also would like to slash-and-burn those who have slashed-and-burnt for commercial gains without much thought that their actions would cause much discomfort to others way beyond their own national boundaries. Like everyone else, I would very much like to post something on Facebook and Twitter, to have my share of voice online.

Yes, it would have been very easy to be like everyone else. And I must admit that I have grumbled and complained under my breath as I experienced the discomfort in my body and the environment. Each time I look out the window or drive through the hazy conditions, it is depressing and discouraging. An automatic response would be to join the fray and the chorus of complaints, to play the blame game, to look to the government for deliverance from this awful plight.

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That is why I struggled when prompted by the Holy Spirit this morning that I am not to be like everyone else. He told me that I did not have to gripe nor complain, that I could instead choose to keep my eyes on the Lord and to praise Him regardless. He reminded me that the skies may be hazy but I carry the brightness of His glory within. The situation might be gloomy but His joy is not dependent on that at all. He encouraged me to take comfort in His Word rather than be affected by the dismal posts and pictures on Facebook.

I don’t know how long this haze will last — even the governments do not know. If weather conditions remain the same, the haze could be around for weeks (months?!). What was made clear to me by the Spirit is that life goes on, and those who proclaim Jesus as Lord are to respond differently.

As Christians, we are not to be like everyone else. Stop blaming the governments. Stop pointing fingers. There is not even a need to respond to rude or offensive remarks, much less make the same and be found no better. Sure, have fun and have a good laugh at some of the better PSI jokes. But don’t stoop so low as to demean another.

As Christians, we can pray, trusting in the One who holds all things in His mighty hand. Pray for rain as Elijah did. And keep praying until the heavens open. In the meantime, hide in Him as our Protection, even as we do our part to stay indoors and to don those uncomfortable N95 masks. Be careful and responsible but there is no need to live in fear. Discern the various health advisories coming from every direction. Not everything you read is true nor accurate.

As Christians, look to God, for in Him alone is our salvation and deliverance. There is absolutely no point in tracking the PSI so religiously. As with everything else in the world, it will fluctuate from hour to hour, from place to place. Only God is unchanging and stable, and He is the One we must keep our eyes fixed on. Thank God that our government is taking active steps. Pray for them too and refrain from questioning or judging them. You are only concerned with irritated eyes and noses. They have to manage the sentiments of an irritated country and other irritable factors – both internal and external.

As Christians, let’s remember to bless. To this end, instead of becoming angry with our neighbors, let’s begin to bless them. Yes, bless them! I know this sounds ridiculous. For a start, stop posting all your hate remarks on Facebook. There is enough going around without Christians having to add to it. If you have to vent, cast it upon the Lord and let Him handle it. We are not to take things into our own hands. But we are called to forgive, and we are called to bless.

As Christians, rejoice! And again I say, rejoice! Have a good sense of humour and lift one another’s spirits. Don’t fuel each other’s discouragements and frustrations. Don’t commiserate in each other’s misery. Instead, rejoice in the Lord (not in the situation) and keep drawing strength and hope in Him. Choose to praise and to thank Him! It may not change the PSI but it will sure change the way you handle the situation. As I posted on Facebook, “Through the daze, maze or haze, He is still worthy of all praise!”

As Christians, the work of the Kingdom continues. Nothing, not even the haze, will stop God’s move in the hearts of people. Don’t allow the slight inconveniences to deter or distract us from a higher purpose. Let us not stand in the way by responding wrongly through unkind words and negative behaviour. Instead, this is an opportunity to be a testimony for Jesus!

As mentioned above, I struggled when the Spirit flooded my heart with these points. It is so much easier to be like everyone else. But I am glad He reminded me. Pastorally, I am concerned with how some may be responding to the haze situation. As I am inconvenienced and affected, so are many others. Yet, how I choose to respond will also set an example – whether good or bad – to others.

Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me so gently, reminding me that I bear the name of Jesus. Enable me to respond rightly, especially when it is tempting to react as others do. Lord, You are in total control of the situation. I look to You and You alone! Deliver us, O Lord!

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