The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar) was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until 21 August 1968, when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to suppress the reforms. (Wikipedia)

I was in Arizona when I heard about the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government. (Pakatan Harapan was the coalition of political parties that won the last Malaysian general election on May 9, 2018). Of course, I had followed the blow-by-blow of the convoluted chain of events that led to this. Some of us are in despair; most of us are very disappointed with this turn of events. We voted in the last government because the country was headed down a path of racism, corruption, and incompetence. We rejoiced when we managed to change the government at the ballot box. But now, barely short of two years, a new coalition that represents most of what was wrong with the country is in power, not by the ballot box but by a realignment of the loyalties of some of the members of parliament. The “empire had struck back” and had won.

Looking for hope, I thought of the Prague revolution of 1968 (see above). For a period of time, eight months, the Czechoslovakian people tasted freedoms they had never experienced as a Communist state under the control of the Soviet Union. Then their hopes were crushed when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country and suppressed the reforms.

Fast forward to today. Czechoslovakia became two states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in 1993. Both countries are now members of NATO. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. I wonder if those who were fighting for freedoms in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and whose hopes were crushed, could have imagined how things would turn out in the end. The “Prague Spring” was short-lived. It would take more than two decades, but a more permanent spring would come.

The Malaysian spring lasted just short of two years. Many are disappointed but followers of Jesus must never forget that the Lord is on His throne and in control of history. He is working out His purposes but He has His own timetable. As George Herbert reminded us, “God’s mill grinds slow but sure” (1652). Justice — we will get there but in His timing.

So my dear brothers and sisters who love Malaysia, there is a time to mourn, but what we cannot do is give up. We may not know how long it will take but we keep on pressing forward with justice and mercy as our guiding values. Let’s gird our loins and get to work. Let us pray, which is our primary work. Let us be gospel communities that live out gospel values and share the gospel. And let us work afresh to see, again, a government in power that will move us away from racism, corruption and incompetence.

Bernice and I just visited the Grand Canyon. It is mind boggling that such a deep canyon can be formed by something as humble as the Colorado River carving away rock, something seemingly impossible. But then our God is the God of the impossible, who uses the small and the weak to accomplish His purposes. So, we mustn’t give up.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30–32 NIV)