This is a battle we need to fight on our knees

Emilyn Tan // May 19, 2021, 5:02 pm


"The time to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13) – and that of those we have been given charge over – has rarely been so urgent as now," says Emilyn Tan. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

Before mask-wearing became mandatory, one of the kids in my neighbourhood used to set his little face 5cm away from mine and say soberly: “When people ask me, do you like school? I tell them ‘no.’ ”

Two seconds pass, and laughter like a peal of brilliant bells breaks out through his set of still-perfect baby teeth: “I LOVE school!” he shouts, the light in his eyes dancing about.

Sometimes he espouses the reuse-recycle theme. Other times he speculates about what else there is in the depths of the ocean besides orcas.

Nothing about life could be sinister to this six-year-old – or so it seemed, until two weeks ago.

“Do you know Covid is getting worse?” he asked. “People can die, you know.”


By that time, a 15-year-old student from Edgefield Secondary School had tested positive for Covid-19 infection. A weekend later, the whole of Victoria Junior College was being swabbed in one fell swoop because one of its students had become a stat as Case 62,941. 

“Do you know Covid is getting worse? People can die, you know.”

Then, Friday May 14 dawned, and rumour had it that the principal of St Andrew’s Junior School had announced Home-Based Learning (HBL) for the day.

It was not the first to do so; Yio Chu Kang Primary had preceded the list of primary schools going fully online because of a case.

After St Stephen’s and Kong Hwa were added to this list the same Friday, our current “Heightened Alert” was announced.

That primary school list is still growing, its main demographic being children younger than 10. Fuchun and Frontier Primary Schools joined yesterday, and three more today (May 19): Yuhua, CHIJ (Katong) and Catholic High.

No kidding

My heart palpitates for the children I know, and their parents

I think of the child still recovering from the acrimonious divorce of his parents after his father’s infidelity was established. 

Maybe this “mayhem” is as much about us as it is about our children – and perhaps more so.

How about the boy with the red sports shoes two sizes too small for him, still longing for his mother who left the family after she’d bought them a year ago?

There’s also the pair of painfully shy siblings from a fiercely protective household. Another special one: A much-loved, distinctly gifted young person, talented but tainted by indifference.

“Come now, let’s hasten an end to the mayhem,” I say to the Lord. “Our kids don’t know any better. Why them?”

They’re testing Covid-positive and being hospitalised, or are Covid-suspect and being quarantined. Many are blissfully ignorant, others are shrouded in fear.

And what about the fact of them living life via Zoom, growing up as a “Covid Generation” – whatever that is going to mean post-pandemic (if ever)?

The larger perspective 

But wait.

Lest our intercessory burden on their behalf gets heady, let’s spare the thought that maybe this “mayhem” is as much about us as it is about them – and perhaps more so.

After all, “prayer develops the life of God in us”, as the ancient sage, Oswald Chambers, would say.

’Fess up: Every one of us parents has some secret the Lord has His finger on right now.

“We generally look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical idea of prayer is that God’s holiness, purpose, and wise order may be brought about.”

’Fess up: Every one of us parents has something in the secret places of our hearts that the Lord has His finger on right now. And don’t we know it.

The time to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13) – and that of those we have been given charge over – has rarely been so urgent as now.

“Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Yet, we are not a people without a sure hope: “Return … I will heal your backslidings” (Jeremiah 3:22) – the larger purpose being that, for such a time as this, some of us are to be stationed as watchmen atop our city’s walls.

Others of us are being gathered for the fortified rear guard. (Ephesians 6:11-18) 

Wherever we happen to be placed, that’s where we need to be.

So, all together now: “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan. You can’t have our kids.”

We are all dads and mums in an Almighty Army together, and one thing alone should constitute our reality: We are a Kingdom people, birthed through the will of and because of the blood of a King, who promises: “If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

My school-loving little friend has this chorus he bellows out often, mostly off-pitch, but I’m always thankful for the simplicity of the reminder:

There is a Redeemer
Jesus, God’s own Son
Precious Lamb of God
Holy One.

Thank You, O my Father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
Till the work on earth is done.

For his sake, and all the rest of our children, this is a battle we need to fight – and keep fighting – on our knees. There’s no replacement.

So, all together now: “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan. You can’t have our kids.”

About the author

Emilyn Tan

Emilyn once spent morning, noon and night in newsrooms. She gave it up to spend morning, noon and night at home, in the hope that someday she’d have an epiphany of God with His hands in the suds, washing the dishes too.