Monday, April 16, 2012

Foremost: Looking back on my ICC Year

I thank God for the opportunity to join the Torchbearers youth camp1, a proper way of ending my ICC2 year. The camp's theme couldn't have been more appropriate: 'Kaw Na, Wala Ng Iba. The theme verse was Psalm 73:25-26,

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Asaph wrote this psalm. It's among my personal favorites, and I recite it—rather, sing it to—myself often. But who is Asaph? We know from Biblical accounts that he served as one of King David's chief musicians (1 Chronicles 25:1-2), and that he wrote 11 other Psalms. Other than that, we don't hear a lot more about him in Scripture.

Psalm 73 is interesting in that Asaph struggled with the question: why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Asaph understood that “God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (verse 1), but he got “envious of the arrogant as [he] saw the prosperity of the wicked” (verse 3). While the rest of the people were hungry and poor, the wicked had eyes bulging in fat. Their deaths were painless. They spoke of oppression. They were wealthy and at ease. Seeing this reality almost led Asaph to stumble (verse 2). If God is good, why did He let these happen?

Asaph's confusion and bewilderment vanished when he came to God's sanctuary (Psalm 73:16-17). By God's grace, he was given a new perspective—that God is everything to him. God is his greatest good, his greatest passion, his greatest desire. Siya na nga, wala ng iba.

We must, like the psalmist, make God foremost in our lives. But first we must see Him as supremely valuable and beautiful. On our own, that's impossible. The Bible calls all of us dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1). It takes the Holy Spirit's regenerative work to bring our spiritually dead souls to life—only then can we see our utter sinfulness and respond in faith in Jesus Christ. The cataracts from our eyes will be removed, so that we can now behold Him as our supreme treasure, our greatest joy, our all in all.

O, how this Psalm has been used by God to encourage and rebuke me this academic year! Have I desired anything greater than God? Many times I have. Like Asaph, my flesh and my heart have failed, not once but so many times, as I struggled with my sins. And yet God has, through Jesus Christ,  strengthened me and forgiven me time and again.

I praise Him for sustaining me throughout my ICC year, the best so far in med school. I'm thankful for the privilege of serving him in Agape, our local Christian fellowship in Medicine. I'm thankful for every single exam I passed, every answer I blurted out in small group discussions, every patient I met and interacted with in the clinics (even if some of them thought I looked like Aiza Seguerra), every place I've been to. What a great year this was. I have mixed feelings that it's all over, and that Clerkship is just a couple of weeks away.

But I am grateful above all because my experiences this year have led me even closer to knowing and savoring Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself for up for me (Galatians 2:20).

1. I've long since graduated from the 13-21 age bracket arbitrarily set for camps like these. I've been going as a youth worker instead, as some of my closest friends in church are. We're more involved in the organization and planning of the event, rather than being mere participants. The kids call us kuya and ate.

2. Integrated Clinical Clerkship. Otherwise known as Third Year Medicine Proper in other schools. Also known as the period with the least stress and the longest hours of free time.



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