Thursday, 29 May 2014

Jar of Gratitude

Discontentment is something I believe all of us struggle with - whether it be a position, status, person, emotion or object, we can long for or covet after absolutely anything. While using one's success to inspire us to strive for something similar is admirable, allowing it to fill us with emptiness and dissatisfaction is not.

I recently found myself falling into the pit of only-if-I-hads! My discontentment blinded my eyes to the privileges and blessings I enjoy. It went from bad to worse. People say, "Look at those less fortunate than yourself." - that used to work but not anymore. I have become immune to such comparative therapies; I begin reasoning with myself that everyone lives a different life and hence give myself a license to sulk with self-pity. This did not spur me on to achieve greater things, it drained me to the point of conscious and stubborn laziness...that is when the penny finally dropped!

A tweet popped up on my Twitter feed about recording something that you're grateful for each day, a point that resonated from the sermon on Sunday. That was it! I looked around for ideas to make this task fun and memorable:
Jar of Gratitude
Leave it in a prominent place in your room, preferably on your bedside table. At the end of each day, take a small piece of paper and make a note of one thing that made you smile or breathe a sigh of relief.
Board of Thankfulness
This needs a little wall space and a lot of sticky notes.
All you need is a bit of inspiration! I neither have a jar nor a board, instead I used an old chocolate container to make a 'Box of Gratitude'
Box of Gratitude
Doesn't matter how, but I invite you to join me in recording your often forgotten blessings. It not only preserves you from debilitating discontentment, it also offers you something to fondly look back on, in the near or distant future.
Every day, no matter how bleak, has a silver lining that makes us stop and breathe or even smile - a gorgeous sunrise, a supportive friend, a good night's sleep or even just relief to have gotten through the day. I know it is not always easy to look past dismay, but it is not an impossible task either. I am not implying that we disguise our sorrows, far from it; amidst the blitz, forage for that hint of comfort or joy that pushes you forward.
Paul certainly had a point when he said, 'Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.' - if you weren't already tempted by the opportunity to put your creative hats on, I bet the latter part of this verse made my argument doubly convincing!

I guess it's settled then - there is no right or wrong way to be grateful, except to be ungrateful!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Discovering God in Genetics

I am currently working my way through Krish Kandiah's study, 'FRESH' - it is aimed at Christian university students. It has helped me discover a lot, not only as a Christian and a student but also as a daughter and a friend. Although it is aimed at those beginning their first year, I would recommend it to every Christian at university. It is filled with relatable anecdotes and thought provoking challenges, one of which was to write about how I plan to discover God in my chosen field of study - in this post, I shall try to do just that.

This question isn't new, it has consumed me numerous times. Over this academic year, I have been trying to ascertain how my Christianity ought to impact my pursuit in science. With studies that suggest that religious people are less intelligent than those that aren't, and theories that are so contrary to what the Bible states, it seems almost impossible in this day and age to call myself both a Christian and a Scientist.

With much thought to this I have realised that I wrongly equated my Christianity with my passion for science; I confused my identity with my vocation. Am I separating these two important spheres? Certainly not, in fact the contrary is true.  As a Christian, my scientific vocation ought to glorify God - my conclusions need to be unbiased and my research, built on the evidence at hand.

The past few centuries have wrongly projected science and Christianity as irreconcilable entities - all because people felt the need to blame something for the views and philosophies they held dear. Christianity affects world-views, and rightly so, however science does not and cannot. The Oxford dictionary defines 'science' as the 'intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.' I know that I do not need a definition to show you that science is empirical; world-views and philosophies cannot be attributed to such tangibility.

I have learnt therefore that my relationship with God does not impede my scientific pursuit, but it drives it. You see, the Bible was never intended to be a science text book, far from it. To compare it to one, would in my opinion be wrong and demeaning; the Bible possesses a nobler purpose, to help one understand the attributes of God and how to be reconciled to Him in light of their sinfulness. Science and Christianity answer different questions, to deny this fact is what impedes knowledge, or worse, promotes false knowledge.

My area of study is Medical Genetics. From a single base in the DNA to its ability to regulate key processes throughout the body, every intricacy points me to God with ever increasing awe. A scientist is much like a sailor trying to reach the horizon, just when he thinks he has sailed enough, he realises it is not so; his journey to that point is by no means unpleasant or in vain.
I have also realised that scientific knowledge is limited. God is the author of life (I am not sure if any of us can define 'life') and the orchestrator of the universe. Science is not a pursuit to disprove His existence or unveil His identity (such matters are beyond its scope), instead it is a quest to discover an iota of all that was involved in God putting together this mind-blowing cosmos and everything in it.

Some of the greatest scientific minds were Christians or theists - Sir Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey - name it! Closer to my field, I respect and admire Dr. Francis Collins. None of these minds found the need to neglect God to accomplish much for science, but they glorified Him through their achievements. Isn't that enough inspiration to spur us on!

In light of all this, it feels appropriate to end by quoting one of my Genetics lecturers,
'What is life? That is a question you address, not with your head, but with your heart.' 
For more on FRESH, check out: http://www.freshspace.org/