Before a new year starts, I would always write down all the things I am grateful for from the year that was. Then I would write down the goals I have for the coming year. Before 2019 ended, I did the same. We had so many goals for 2020. It seemed to be a very promising year with the Expo 2020 scheduled to start in October 2020 and we had events to look forward to. January proved to be the best January we ever had. We had new team members who just joined and everything seemed to be getting better! We also found this huge new commercial warehouse in a prime location in January which was something I always prayed for. Our current office was getting cramped with a growing team. The warehouse property manager gave us 3 months grace period and a good price if we signed up for a 5yr lease. Answered prayer indeed! I even had a warehouse picture pasted on my goal page in my Christian planner. Everything seemed going according to plan until the world got hit by the COVID-19.
We were still able to shoot until mid-March but after the third week of March, one cancellation came after the other. We had 5 events canceled in just two days. More canceled projects came. Companies who owed us asked if they can pay later as they were suffering too. We do not have any income coming in and our finances are in bad shape. The future looked bleak. Companies around me were closing down and laying off their employees. Some have advised me to cut my losses and relieve some of my staff especially those who have not completed a year. I have always treated my team as family. I talked to them and told them honestly about the problem we are facing. We mutually agreed that unpaid leave was the best option as of the moment.
Then the Dubai government announced a 24-hr enhanced quarantine. Not everyone in our team can work remotely so the pending projects suffered too. One of our team members was stuck in Manila and a couple of team members flew home to Baguio. Stress and anxiety are the biggest enemies of a business owner. You just don’t think about your own family but the families of your team members too. The business that you have established with blood, sweat and tears is threatened and your life savings is going down the drain. COVID-19 just destroyed my plans and dreams.
There was this analogy of same storm but different boat that I feel perfectly illustrates this situation. This pandemic is the storm that is ravaging the world like a violent storm. We are all in different boats. Some are sailing in a cruise ship while others sail in a wooden raft about to be swallowed by the waves. Then I was reminded of a story in Bible where the Jesus and disciples were in a boat and caught in a storm (Mark 4:35-41). The disciples panicked and asked Jesus, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown???” Then Jesus calmed the storm and asked them’ “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus’ words pierced through my heart and soul. Why am I afraid?
Then His words comforted me and gave me peace.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6
“Do not be afraid” verses appeared 365 times in the Bible; it is such a beautiful daily reminder.
It doesn’t matter how strong the storm is. What is important is who is with you in your boat. God is the captain of my ship and it will not sink. He will not leave me nor forsake me.
When Dubai lifted the ECQ (Enhanced community quarantine), we visited the warehouse where we were supposed to move in next month. They just handed the keys over. With our current financial condition, I do not think we can fit it out the way I dreamed it to be. I have cancelled our lease in our old office so we do not have a choice but move in to an empty warehouse. Maybe I can afford some air-conditioning but that’s it for the meantime. We barely have enough money to last us until June. We have received a few emails asking for quotes for November and December events. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for us but I know who holds tomorrow in His hands and that is all what matters. I realized that we can plan and dream but God’s plan will always be better. Dear Lord, I lay before you my dreams and plans but may your will be done. Amen.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3