From Pain to Praise
Untrained in music, unschooled in songwriting. Yet when cancer-stricken and winner of Trinity Broadcast TV's "Let's Worship" Music Video Contest Yvonne Cheong opened her mouth to praise God, new lyrics and a new melody flowed out.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctor advised on a mastectomy. My world fell apart in that instant. Fear gripped me. I wondered if I was going to die from the illness, and what was going to happen to my family. I have four precious children, the youngest was in Primary Three then.
The days that followed were filled with tears, fear and anxiety as I went through tests, counseling and rounds of consultations on the treatment options. I struggled with the decision whether to undergo mastectomy. I felt myself crumbling as I tried to juggle many things at the same time — my cancer, family, and managing a very stressful time at work.
One afternoon, unable to bear any more, I locked myself in the car and cried my heart out in desperation to God. Many questions clouded my mind. "Why, God, why?" Totally exhausted, disheartened and in anguish, I could only whimper to God for His presence and comfort.
Then strangely, I began to sing. Completely new lyrics and melody just flowed out from my mouth. I was surprised. It was like the Holy Spirit was giving me the words and tunes, because I am neither musically trained, nor have I ever been in a choir. It was a miracle from God.
As I pressed in, God showed me the verse in Isaiah 43:1-2. God was assuring me that He will be with me in this trial of fire. I need not fear. I will not be burnt by the fire. I will not be overcomed by cancer.
When I started to sing with the verses in mind, out came the chorus. In between tears, I half-jested with God, "God, You cannot just give me the chorus, You must give me the verse too. It wouldn’t otherwise be a complete song.”
In that moment, I saw an image of God, seated under a white pavilion in a garden, surrounded by beautiful blooms of flowers with different colors — lilac, red, blue, pink, and yellow. There was a path in the garden leading to where He was seated, and He was beckoning me to walk towards Him.It was such a beautiful sight! When I entered the pavilion, God held my hand and embraced me. I knew I had entered into His Sanctuary.
That was how the first song — In His Sanctuary, was birthed.
In His Sanctuary
As I walk, into Your Sanctuary
I will see, you face to face,
I will gaze, into Your beauty
As You hold my hand in Yours
And through this land, you walk with me
And through this fire, you keep me safe
And through this land, you walk with me
And through your fire, you've set me free
It's You, it's You who hold me Father
It's You, it's You who hold me close
Oh Lord, You’ll never ever leave me
Oh Lord, you’ve always heard my cry
It's You, it's You who loves me, Father
It's You, it's You who brings me hope
Oh Lord, You’ll never ever leave me
Oh Lord, in Your Sanctuary I'll be
(Inspired by Isaiah 43:2) All rights reserved.
I cried uncontrollably like a baby in the car, completely overwhelmed by God’s love for me. The song brought me so much comfort and hope to face the trials ahead. I never knew so deep down, my soul can be so ministered by His song and Words. God has answered my cry for His help in the most unexpected way. Through this song, I found the courage to go through the mastectomy.
But my trials weren't over. In the next nine months, I would undergo another three rounds of follow-up surgeries.
It was a very trying period. Many uncertainties and challenges at work confronted me, while the pain of my condition gnawed at me. Many nights I would suddenly wake filled with fear. Often I would kneel down by my bed, crying out to God for help. Each time, I would encounter His love. It was during this period in the valley, that I wrote the most songs in praise of Him.
My car became my recording studio. As I shut in with God in the car, He will give me a new song. Like Moses' altars marking what God did, these songs from God were like precious altars built to remember God journeying with me through my trials. They gave me tremendous strength to go through each operation and challenge.
In the three years, God's love has birthed 40 to 50 songs, including one — Band of Sisters, which I wrote for my Connect Group members, who were unwavering in walking with me. Pastor Bee Leng also came alongside and supported me. Together with my Connect Group, we dedicated a song based on Psalm 121 to her.
But many of the songs stayed just with me or among my circle of friends and contacts. I asked God, "What am I going to do with all these songs You have given me?"
His answer soon came. In 2019, God opened a divine opportunity for me to share His songs. One of the worship songs I wrote was selected for National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)'s charity concert, and I was to perform solo for it. This meant I could sing a worship song in a secular concert to an audience of 400 people, and was even invited to share my testimony, giving God all the glory!
But there was still the issue of the music arrangement. Unschooled in music, I did not know how to go about this nor did I have a band to work with. But God knew my worries. He provided a masterful music director, Joy Khau, who turned out to be a Trinitarian. When I heard the band play her arrangement, I teared. God had brought the song to a whole new level that exhibited His grace and strength.
The song I sang was Seasons of Life. It is a thankful tribute of how He has loved me and walked me through the seasons of my life.
Seasons of Life 生命的季节
Clouds in the blue sky, leading me in every step of my life 蓝天白云 带领我走下去
Through every season, you are always by my side
The blooming and withering flowers echo the beautiful rhythm of life
In the mountain's high and the valley's low, you guide me through the winding roads
高山低谷 你牵我走过崎岖路 啊
The Spring comes, see how beautiful the flowers bloom
In Summer, your light shines through the earth
In Autumn, your gentle whispers surround me
In Winter, with you, I have no fear
You walk me through every season
Your hands shielded me from the storms
You are with me in every season
Your smile warms my heart
No matter what lies ahead,
You are the one who gives me strength
Allowing me to face the challenges ahead with courage and assurance.
With you, all things are beautiful!
有你 是多么的美丽 啊..
I have been able to share God's love through my testimony and His songs at Cancer Support Groups meetings, my Connect Group's Christmas Party, and even a wake. I became a vessel to share His love, bringing comfort and hope to those who are sick and do not know our hope in Him. Many were touched. One patient encountered the love of God just before she passed away from cancer.
The biggest blessing was seeing my sister come to Christ on this journey. My cancer diagnosis led my sister to discover hers in the nick of time. She could not refute God's divine intervention and found God's sure hope. Her acceptance of Christ was followed by my brother-in-law's. An aunt who was ill accepted Jesus too, just before she went home to be with the Lord. I was overjoyed when a friend, whom I have been reaching out to for seven years, also started a relationship with Jesus. She too saw how God was so real in my journey and experienced His miracles and favor herself during trying times.
God has definitely turned the cancer from a curse into an opportunity to share Christ. Not only is my faith in Him strengthened, my walk with Him is closer. I now have a new found boldness to share about Christ to others.
When Trinity Broadcast's "Let's Worship" Music Video Contest came along, I was thrilled. I have a chance now to share a song, in video, with my oikos. I secretly wish that God will put together His team to arrange the music for all the songs He has miraculously given to me. It will be exciting to see how God is going to use these songs to draw more into His love and embrace!
Joyful Praise Worship Video
(To view more winners of Trinity Broadcast's "Let's Worship" Music Video Contest, head to Trinity Broadcast TV.)
Reflect & Respond
What is your response in the midst of trials? Can you trust that God is with you to help you overcome? Will you seek His presence and comfort? Will you allow Him to come into your situation? If you do not know this God, find out more here. Join us in our zoom Altar Call or Guest Reception after our online services to chat with someone, or email us. Our online services are available on Facebook and Youtube. English services occur every Thu, 7.30pm, Sat, 5pm and Sun, 8.30 and 11am.
How has God walked/ is walking with you through challenges, and turned/ is turning things around for good for you? Who can you share your testimony with?
What can you praise God for despite your trial?