My husband and I have had this conversation with friends and family many times:
“Have you balloted for a flat yet?”
“Yes, it’ll be in Punggol, right beside Coney Island.”
“Oh, congratulations! When will it be ready?”
“Well… around the third quarter of 2023.”
Most of the time, we’re met with widened eyes. “Wah, so long?”
This is a common reaction we’ve been getting ever since we registered for a flat in 2018. It’s been just over two years of waiting, and we’ve got at least another two to go.
I can’t imagine, however, how I would feel if we had to wait even longer.
As a prospective BTO (Built-To-Order) flat owner, I can thus empathise with the shock, disbelief, frustration, and helplessness that many of the 43,000 flat buyers affected must be feeling.
According to a recent news report, they will have to wait another six to nine months, as 85 per cent of ongoing BTO projects have been delayed as a result of manpower shortages and supply disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While our future home isn’t listed among the 89 affected projects (or at least for now), we’re bracing ourselves for a possibly longer wait, if the pandemic continues.
This reminds me of other times in life when we have to wait for things to happen. When we feel frustrated because something we need urgently doesn’t arrive in time. When we feel helpless, because we can’t do anything to speed things up. When we feel disappointed about a delay that we don’t seem to deserve. And we wonder, can’t God do something about it?
In such times, one Bible passage that gives me encouragement, hope, and guidance is 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 which exhorts us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. In these verses, I find strength to keep on rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks.
1. Being Prayerful
The instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray continually” resonates with me, as I’m a natural worrier and planner. I suspect that’s how many of us are naturally inclined—which is why Paul instructs believers to pray, persistently and regularly, in our daily life. At the root of it, praying is about communing with God our Father, who knows exactly what we need, as Jesus assures us to seek His kingdom first and not worry about our daily needs, for our Father cares and will provide for us (Matthew 6:25–34).
Instead of fretting about when our flat will be ready, or where we will stay in the meantime, these two passages remind me to focus on knowing my Lord and Saviour more—and to stand firm in the knowledge that God will provide for us as we learn to entrust ourselves to His will and sovereignty.
Wherever possible, I try to pray while looking out the window, as I watch the trees swaying gently and the occasional sparrow flitting by. Because when I slow down and look around, that’s when I can see for myself that just as the Lord feeds the birds in the air and dresses the flowers in the field, He too will provide for me—and much more so.
2. Being Patient and Peaceable
I lived with my in-laws in the first 1½ years of my marriage. While they were perfectly gracious hosts, I had some challenges adjusting to a new household, with its own culture and rules, in a new neighbourhood.
It took me about a year to adjust. In hindsight, I feel ashamed of how I behaved: I often focused on what I couldn’t get used to, and moaned to my husband about the long wait for our flat. But gradually, I was convicted by the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:15, to “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances”.
Over time, as I learnt to give thanks in whatever circumstances I was in—including this season of waiting for my BTO flat—the Lord gave me newfound patience, as well as peace in my marriage, as I began expressing to my husband what I was thankful for, instead of what I was unhappy with.
As I sought to count my blessings in living with my in-laws and intentionally focus on the things of God, I began to appreciate how living with them drew me closer to them. Observing his family interactions and culture also gave me greater insights into the roots of my husband’s nuances and peculiarities, which in turn helped me to adapt in this new marriage. And, of course, it helped us save a fair bit for our flat and upcoming child, Lord willing.
3. Being Prudent and Practical
As we presented to God our petitions, gave thanks to Him, and tried to practise patience and peace, we also learnt to be prudent and practical with what He had tasked us to steward, both in our relationship and finances.
Before we got married, we thought long and hard about renting our own place to move into right after our wedding. But after praying about it, doing our sums, and consulting with our families and church friends, we reluctantly shelved the idea—however attractive—while waiting for our flat. Although our heart’s desire was to set up our own nest, it seemed prudent to stay with my in-laws for a while.
At the same time, we felt that the principle of leaving and cleaving was important (Genesis 2:24), especially in view of how our BTO flat would not be ready until at least 2023. During that season of staying with my in-laws, we prayerfully considered moving out. And thankfully, the Lord eventually opened the door for us to rent a small home of our own—one that fit exactly into our budget.
Of course, renting a place isn’t for everybody. But our own experience showed us how important it is to seek God’s will and wisdom on what to do while waiting—to pray and give thanks, to consider what biblical principles applied to our situation, and to seek wise counsel from mature brothers and sisters in Christ.
In hindsight, I see how this was—and is—“God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus”, as we grew in joyfulness, prayerfulness, and thankfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It may be discouraging and downright depressing to keep waiting for another two to three years—or even more—for a new home. But we can continue to keep rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks, knowing that there’s truly a season for everything—including this current season of waiting (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8).
Lord, thank You for being present with me
in this season of waiting.
Though I may not understand why,
I know that Your will for me is my sanctification,
as 1 Thessalonians 4:3 shows me.
Help me to respond by rejoicing always,
praying continually, and
giving thanks in all circumstances.