By Pr Ay Nee Ng
If I were to take one garlic head and shake it in a jar, do you believe that the peel will fall off? Impossible? It was so until I tried. It is possible! When we talk about something impossible, we refer to something too difficult to accomplish or to resolve. But nothing is too difficult. Do you believe it? Who would have thought that just by shaking the whole garlic in a closed jar, it would peel itself without bruises? It took a repeated number of times shaking the jar before the peel came off, but it was possible. What about this Malaysian lady who, with her husband, faced the impossibility of developing the PfSPZ vaccine to immunise people against malaria? Difficult or not, things can be done if we have the right set of mind and attitude and God in our lives.
Who would have thought that you could still buy a land while in prison? Jeremiah was one such person that had the right frame of mind and attitude to believe in the impossible made possible by God. He knew His God—he had a walking, talking relationship with God, a real intimate relationship. Do we have that? The Word of the Lord came to him in Jeremiah 32:7-8 telling him to buy the field at Anathoth when Hanamel, son of his uncle Shallum, came to sell it to him. What do would you do if you are in prison and do not know when you will get out? Would you buy the land? If so, what would you do with the land? Jeremiah might have had similar thoughts at first, but he obeyed the prophetic word of the Lord because he knew the Lord God Almighty. As he obeyed, he was affirming God’s prophecy of yet to come. He was not an ordinary man. He was a man of God and believed every word that proceeds from God’s mouth is truth and will come to pass. It is possible with God “for no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).
Jeremiah 32:16-26 says:
16 After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord:
17-23 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey. They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them.
24-25 See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed’.
26 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’”.
Is anything too difficult for God? Nothing is too difficult for our Lord. We are first hand witness of His mighty provision and deed. SGC Centre stands as His promise of more to come. His mighty hand and outstretched arm is on us; He has sealed His calling on our lives and given us directions. He will provide and guide us. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for God because the impossible is made possible through our Lord Jesus Christ!
“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’” (Matt. 19:23-30; ESV).
This is such a beautiful picture of someone showing such concern for someone else’s fears. Jesus turned on His disciples, looking at them wishfully and earnestly with sympathy and love. He knew their reasoning among themselves although they did not speak out so as to be heard by Him. Can we relate to this? How many time we have doubts and fears in our mind but we dare not say it out? It is the uncertainty that we are not good enough for God!
The disciples were experiencing such fears because, if this seemingly righteous rich man was finding difficulty in coming to the kingdom of heaven, then what about them? There was no reason to fear. Although their countenances showed fear, Jesus soothingly allayed their fears, and claiming their full attention for a spiritual truth, He said unto them: “With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible”. It is utterly impossible for a man that sets his heart upon his riches to get to heaven. Wealth itself is not bad, but when it grips us to the extent that greed consumes us, then it is a problem. Christ used the expression: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”, to denote this difficulty, altogether unconquerable by man’s power. Only God’s Almighty’s grace can enable a man to get over this difficulty.
Who Then Can We Be Saved?
If riches hinder rich people, don’t pride, rebellion, independence, and sinful lusts in those who are not rich hinder them too? What about drug traffickers, like Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who after serving ten years in prison were just executed on Wednesday 29th April 2015 in Bali? “Who can be saved?” the disciples said. “None”, says Christ, “by any created power”.
We tend to rely on our own natural abilities and strength. But humans cannot save their souls or rise superior to the snare of riches that comes with self-independence, self-achievements, or rebellion. The Bible tells us we can’t serve two masters, mammon or God–there needs to be a choice. Wealth entangles people, and the natural person is unable to extricate him or herself from the lowering effects of its pursuit and enjoyment. Only with God’s grace all things are possible. With His grace and providence, the rich man may be delivered from his dangers, keep an unspotted heart, and use his riches for God’s glory and his eternal good. It is also by God’s grace that any sinful man can be delivered and cleansed to live for God’s glory.
The Mighty Power of the Grace of God Can
- work upon rich men’s hearts, rebellious hearts, or any sinful heart to take off people’s affections to their worldly substance, their self-independence, their rebellion, and their pride;
- cause them to drop their trust and confidence in riches;
- influence and dispose their minds to distribute their riches cheerfully among the poor, to largely and liberally supply their wants, and even part, when necessity requires it;
- change their hearts,and cause their souls’ desires to be after true riches of grace and glory;
- bring them to see their own spiritual poverty, their need of Christ, and the gift of salvation by Jesus;
- cause them to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Christ, by suffering the loss of all things for His sake;
- carry them through a thousand snares safe to God’s kingdom and glory.
Our Lord’s answer in Matthew 19 implies much more. Although, humanly speaking, it was not possible that a company of poor, despicable men could stand against the united force of great and mighty men. God was able to uphold them and to make them useful and comfortable amidst all the opposition and persecution they could encounter until God’s grace had finished His work by and in them.
Impossibility is conditional; it can be overcome by God’s help alone. In the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8), we have an example of how a rich man was disciplined and transformed. The day when Zacchaeus met Jesus Christ, he came down, ate with Jesus, and was born again. The impossibility of a tax collector being saved was made possible with the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we receive the impossibility? With despondency? Or with hope in God’s power?
There are four kinds of people.
1. Garlicky people: They are tight and composed as a whole clove of garlic. In difficult situations, they go through hard shaking. They remain composed, but their layers peel off.
2. Onion people: When the layers come off, there is some pungent smell. When being around them, you sometimes sense their pain and agony. It makes you cry and empathise with them. In the end, they are peeled to be useful.
3. Carrot people: They are nice to look at. They are bright, chirpy, and healthy for you. They got the Word. They are also righteous and good but sometimes tough with you. Once you bite into them and have a taste, you realize they are good. Eating more prevents cancer of the soul.
4. Banana people: They are yellow on the outside but white on the inside–sometimes timid, square, and fearful. They may get mushy, but they are actually pretty tough people. When they are ripe, they have clear thinking and are very straight and honest people. But once they are bruised by difficulties in life, they become a bit mushy and lose their flavour.
Who are you? All these four kind of persons need the Lord Jesus Christ to turn their situation around. Every one of us faces some sort of difficulty, some impossible situation, or difficult person in life. How then do we respond to the situation or person? Do we have the frame of mind to trust that God can turn our situation around and make the impossible possible in our lives? Do we believe that every word, every prophetic word spoken over us, can come to pass because nothing is too difficult for God? “For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37). Jesus also said: “Heaven and earth will pass away but My word will remain” (Matt. 24:25; Luke 21:33; Mark 13:31).
What would you do when all things, including life, hope, and a future, are stripped from you, and your life is waiting to be pardoned from a death sentence? Although impossible to believe, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran turned their lives to God after 10 years of being drug traffickers. Andrew, then at age 21, and Myuran, then at age 24, became believers in Jesus Christ and helped the prisoners at Keroban jail in Bali to rehabilitate. It was impossible against all odds, but it was made possible with God. Chan and Sukumaran repented, knowing they had done wrong, and made a public apology, ending their lives in a purposeful manner.
On May 1, 2015, Cindy Wockner and Daniel Strudwick from News Corp Australia Network reported in “The Daily Telegraph” as follows.
That the men’s lawyer Julian McMahon, on Thursday said that he had heard from chaplains who had been with the men until the last three minutes that both Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34, had conducted themselves in an extraordinary manner.
Mr McMahon said that both Chan and Sukumaran did their absolute best in the last years of their life to make things better for other people.
Sukumaran had even convinced guards, in the week before he learned he was to be executed, to let him set up art classes for eight fellow prisoners. His mother Raji has brought him the art supplies. It was around the time he celebrated his 34th birthday—a picture taken of him with his cake was to be his last. Mr McMahon said both had become wonderful young men.
They took great pride in the fact that important Australians and ordinary Australians who have no public profile supported them, because it validated for them the very hard work that they went through to lead good lives in the prison.
Living a good life in prison is not easy, but Chan and Sukumaran did it.
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isa. 59:1). May God give us faith to place our hope on His promise given in Isaiah 41:10, which says: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous”. By His grace, impossible or too difficult situations can be turned around for our favour. Let us not trust in promising appearances or outward profession, but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!