“You and I were born, specially formed, in God’s plan for God’s purpose”: The faith of late District Judge Richard Magnus
Salt&Light // March 17, 2022, 3:32 pm
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Mr Richard Magnus at the National Day Awards last November, where the retired top judge received the Distinguished Service Order for his public service and contributions to the nation. MCI Photo by Betty Chua via Lee Hsien Loong Facebook.
Tribute after tribute has been flooding social media and the news since retired senior district Judge Richard Magnus was called home to the Lord on Monday (March 14).
Whether they were from former drug addicts or leaders in the government, many have spoken of the heart and humility, kindness and wisdom of the late Ambassador to Finland, humanitarian and church leader.
“I will remember him as someone who was always working … to create a kinder, more inclusive society.” – President Halimah Yacob
President Halimah Yacob said in a Facebook post:
“I will remember him as someone who was always working to serve others; to create a kinder, more inclusive society.
“As Chairman of Human Capital Singapore, he had also been very supportive of efforts to promote inclusive hiring for persons with disabilities … Richard exemplified the definition of selfless service.”
The President conferred the Distinguished Service Order and subsequently presented the Letter of Credence to Mr Magnus as Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Finland, both in August last year.
Mr Magnus received the nation’s top honours for his public service and contributions to the country that continued on after his retirement from the judiciary.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post: “He was principled, humble and warm hearted, and touched the lives and hearts of countless Singaporeans.”
As top judge at the Subordinate Courts (now known as the State Courts), Mr Magnus played a key role in clearing the heavy backlog of cases. High-profile cases he presided over included the 1995 one of Barings trader Nick Leeson, whom he jailed six-and-a-half years for fraud and forgery.
“He was a loyal servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he loved.” – son Keith Magnus
Honour Singapore, where Mr Magnus was a founding board member, said in a Facebook post: “He inspired us with ideas and questions. He was wisdom and encouragement.
“He believed in Honour for the long-term success of nations and business.”
Mr Magnus was also a pillar in the church scene, where he was Chancellor to The Diocese of Singapore.
Mr Magnus’s son, Mr Keith Magnus, told The Straits Times: “He lived his life with integrity, purpose, dignity, service, honour and the highest set of moral values. He was a good friend to many from all stations of life and a loyal servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he loved and has now been reunited with.”
Salt&Light looks at the beliefs Mr Magnus shared in three short videos in which he answered questions on prayer and God. The videos were part of a series, Hard Conversations, by Interseed, a global digital house of prayer.
1. Seek God every day
Is there a need to pray every day? In one of the videos, Mr Magnus, who had a warm connection to people from all walks of life, responded to this question on many Christians’ minds.
“God is able to transform us. God is able to meet our needs. God is able to do things for our own good and for our own welfare,” he said.
“If you pray to the Lord every day, it gives Him an opportunity, it give us an openness to Him, to have our heart transformed to deal with the needs of the day. To deal with the cares of the day. To deal with how we relate to people. To deal with a particular problem.
“Therefore, seeking God every day is something which must be a daily habit.
“In fact, it’s God standing beside you and saying, ‘Come, let’s walk this journey together. Let Me hold your hands together.'”
2. Lean on God’s strength
In another video – “Where is God when it hurts?” – Mr Magnus’ answer reveals the source of his “strength, hope, perseverance, endurance”, even in suffering and pain, such as when he lost his father and then mother.
“God is in the very place where it hurts”.
He had asked God: “God, why did you take my mum and dad?”
But after “one hurdle after another”, and seeing his friends in their pain and suffering, he realised “that God is in the very place where it hurts”, Mr Magnus said in the video.
“The Bible tells us where God was when Jesus was crucified upon the cross: God was very present at that time of the crucifixion.
“Why didn’t God remove pain? Because there is a greater purpose – to bring redemption out of the pain. So out of our own pain and suffering, there is a redeeming value. Out of evil, God is able to bring good. But He does not create evil in order to produce good.
“We have got the grace of God to stand on. We can lean upon His strength to be able to walk that journey.”
“I think we need to recognise that in our lives, there will be pain. Even if we are believers in the Lord. God never promises in the Scripture that our lives will be a bed of roses. He promises a journey that will give us strength, hope, perseverance, endurance. Suffering and pain is one of the ways He leads us.
“But we have got the grace of God to stand on. We can lean upon His strength to be able to walk that journey. He will be able to take us through that grief and through that pain, because He Himself suffered.
“So when Jesus was in Gethsemane, He prayed: “Not my will be done, God, but Your will be done, My Father …
“And it is sometimes through pain and suffering that we have that depth to know the breath, the length, the height and the depth of God’s love.”
At the start of the video, Mr Magnus had acknowledged: “This is one of the questions that never goes away. It’s a difficult question to answer. It’s a question that whatever answer you give does not take away the pain, the suffering of someone in a situation.”
Watch the clip here.
3. Remember we are formed in God’s plan for His purpose
In the third video “Does God make mistakes?”, Mr Magnus encouraged viewers: “You and I are born not because of a mistake of God. You and I were born, specially formed, in God’s plan for God’s purpose.
“So we have got meaning in God. Never, never say that we were a mistake.”
“You and I are born not because of a mistake of God. You and I were born, specially formed, in God’s plan for God’s purpose.”
He added: “Pastors make mistakes. Politicians make mistakes. Even judges make mistakes.
“I know of no one who has not made any mistake, whether now or in the history of civilisation.
“But there is only one person who has never made a mistake. And that is God Himself. He never makes mistakes.
“The Bible says that God is omniscient. He’s got unlimited knowledge and unlimited awareness. So he knows the end from the beginning. He knows how life is going to be played out. He knows what circumstances are going to happen to us.
“God’s role is always one of grace, and one of redemption. He has never made a mistake.”
Watch the clip here.
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