Dr. Lilian I Jasper - December 2020 Trustee Indaba

19 January 2021

Dr. Lilian I Jasper - December Trustee Indaba

My Indaba centres around 5 incidents that have moved me over the past 2 months:

  1. Faculty member who has been cheated by her husband of 25 years with 2 grown up daughters whom she has to get married. The pain of betrayal writ large in her face, the future bleak.
  2. A 25 year old Christian musician who lost his life in a road accident along with his parents.
  3. A student whose father a professor in Malaysia lost his job due to Covid and was nursing her mother and contracted cerebral typhoid herself by trying to hide her symptoms to avoid causing further anxiety to her family.
  4. An energetic and smart colleague who was nursing her husband through chemotherapy suffering from acute insomnia and having to undergo a major surgery herself
  5. A colleague who has been writing vituperative letters…she has not been able to get along with her colleagues and so blames the system and college.

So the question of pain and suffering, of injustice…inability to question the system….rape and murder of a dalit student…seems to be more profound and sharp during these troubled times. So what is the answer to all this. Pain is not new…all of us have read of Job. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "I am filled with comfort. I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus"(7:4b-6).

Philip Yancy’s Where is God When it Hurts is a modern day treatise on pain and its  meaning. Talking about Yancy leads me to another book by Yancy and Paul Brand called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Pain is not something that most of us would count as a blessing; however, renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand and Yancey shed fresh light on the purpose of our pain. Pain is the body's built-in warning system that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. The point to prove this taken is from leprosy by Paul Brand. So his contention is that pain is also a blessing. Sometimes we go through pain sometimes it is vicarious but both make us strong and teaches us many valuable lessons. David in Psalms 129 says that he was afflicted but his enemies did not prevail.

So the lesson for us at CUAC is that there is suffering and pain…but how do we teach people to cope. Do the students who come to us know how to overcome adversities? We have for long been in the profession of character building but has it taken second seat to knowledge and other more attractive propositions?

The story is told of a Saudi Prince who invited a professional golf player to play with him. While the man was leaving the Prince asked him what he would like as a token of the lovely time they had. The man said probably a golf club. On his return flight he was wondering about the club he would receive…would it be the most expensive one in the world, would it be studded with diamonds. Got back and a month later a letter arrives from the prince in a gold edged envelope with the royal insignia etc. The man was wondering…what is this letter all about. The Prince had not forgotten his promise…there was the deed to a huge golf club. The Prince has still not forgotten his promise to us and is there to help us dream big and what is impossible. Are we ready to receive it?