Hope Arising from a Solid Foundation
by Kenneth Tan Coo, MD, MAHA, FPCP, FPSN
Sunrise Service, August 28, 2020
Before everything else, I would like to greet my Alma Mater, a very wonderful Happy 119th Birthday.
This institution built through Hope by a philanthropist, Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, and with faith pinned on its founder, Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard, with its 119th year of existence is a proof of its solid foundation. A foundation that standeth sure.
Without Silliman, I would not be here standing in front of you, in the most important and prestigious activity imbued with deep spiritual significance, our Silliman University’s tradition, our Sunrise Service.
Today, on this early morning sunrise, I also bring greetings from my Silliman University Elementary School Batch 1981 and Silliman University High School Batch 1985, who is celebrating our Elementary School 38th year reunion and our High School 35th year reunion, respectively.
I would like to acknowledge my brothers and sisters, my classmates who journeyed with me in my formative years in this institution – the institution I consider my second home.
When Silliman President, Dr. Betty Cernol McCann, invited me to give a message in today’s sunrise service, I felt elated and honored. However, the thought that I will go virtual on a live stream via Facebook, meaning I will be talking in front of a camera instead of a real audience, bothered me. I can’t help but ponder further this year’s Founders Day theme, “Hope Arising from the Solid Rock”, a very fitting theme for today’s challenges of the new normal brought about by COVID-19.
The theme gave me the strength to request for real audience out of hope that everything will go well. Of course, with all the necessary precautions like the wearing of facemask, face shield, proper distancing and the like, and anchored on the strong faith that God will protect us from any harm when we do our part. Thus, here you are today right in front of me… an apt demonstration of this year’s theme, “Hope Arising from the Solid Rock or the Solid Foundation.”
My message this morning is anchored on these three basic questions:
1. Who is the Solid Foundation?
2. What is the Solid Foundation?
3. Why should we have a Solid Foundation?
Before we tackle the first question, let us first define Solid Foundation.
Collins Dictionary defines a solid foundation as the basis of something such as a belief or way of life on which a thing is based on.
For a builder, a solid foundation is essential for a house or a structure to stay upright and not collapse.
Figuratively speaking, a solid foundation in studies means that you have to know the basics before you can study the intermediate and advanced levels of a subject.
But how about for our individual lives, how do we define a solid foundation? I guess we can combine the three mentioned definitions by defining solid foundation as knowing the basic as a basis for keeping an upright life.
This definition will lead us to the first question, “Who is the Solid Foundation?.” – the solid foundation that leads us to an upright life.
Psalm chapter 18, verse 2 reads, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
That is the answer… For us to stay strong against all the odds that come our way, we have to anchor ourselves to God, our fortress and deliverer, the rock in whom we take refuge, our shield, and our stronghold. We have to anchor our life in God, because only when we do so will we have hope, a hope that will carry us through the challenges and tests of life like this pandemic that we are battling at present.
We stand by the solid foundation of God’s words through the scriptures that says in Romans chapter 8, verses 24 and 25 saying, “For in this hope we were saved… if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” So hope and patience are indicators of Solid Christian Foundation.
Question number two… “What is the Solid Foundation?”
According to Merriam Webster, a foundation is a basis (such as a tenet, principle, or axiom) upon which something stands or is supported, thus a solid foundation in one word is TRUTH.
In this world where truth and lie intertwine, telling which is true from what is a lie, can be deceiving. Some people consciously or unconsciously manipulate a lie and make it look like it is the truth; in like manner, some people manipulate the truth for it to look like a lie.
John Van, a Chicago Tribune contributor, shared that scholars said at a major science meeting that, “The thing that separates human beings from other animals isn`t the ability to reason or use tools, but telling lies and the human capacity for self-deception.”
Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, an acknowledged writer, also wrote, as a reason for lying, that “scheming and dishonesty are part of what makes us human.”
These facts on human nature make the TRUTH, the Solid Foundation essence, harder to find.
Per my experience, concerning the Dumaguete City and province’s struggle to eradicate COVID 19, lying, as human nature, helped spread the virus. A simple question as, “Have you recently traveled outside the province?” Instead of answering truthfully as “YES”, one would answer “NO” and spreads the virus wherever he or she went, knowingly or unknowingly. This simple looking lie entails a tedious work of contact tracing and causing fear among the people around him or her, and the community in general.
It is only when we anchor back our lives to God, our Solid Foundation, will we be saved from our imperfection for He said in John chapter 14, verse 6, and I quote, ‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So what is the Solid Foundation, for me? The Solid Foundation for me arises from my being nurtured in Silliman University. For Silliman University taught me the “Via, Veritas, Vita.” For Sillimanians here today and in front of me around the world, Silliman University is God’s instrument by which we came to know our ‘Via, Veritas, Vita” which is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. In effect, Silliman University has been a source of solid foundation for me.
As a Sillimanian, Silliman University nurtured in me the “Via, Veritas, Vita” education. Silliman University has nurtured me in the basic truth about our Christian Faith. Since Early Childhood until High School, no activity starts without a prayer. Every Wednesday we go to Silliman Church to have our Religious Convocation. I used to say to myself that it was just a waste of time but it was a requirement and attendance was checked. But today, in retrospect it was not a waste of time, it was an activity of regularly being with somebody Greater than us. That is why until this day, after 51 years, 11 months and 28 days ago, Somebody has been with me, helping me with decisions and ideas that usually pop out from NO WHERE, which I know, it comes from GOD.
As a medical doctor, when I was still having my Internal Medicine Residency training, I would encounter situations that medical science could not explain.
In one instance, a patient had cardiac arrest after an intra-thoracic endoscopy, we did cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR for more than two hours and we were able to resuscitate the patient. And what happened the following day, the patient woke up and was able to go home that same day. Did we do very good CPR? or was it coming from God, our Solid Foundation? For the relatives of that patient, they had Hope and it was given to them by the Solid Foundation. We were just mere instruments of that Solid Foundation which is God.
I am very fortunate that I pursued a medical career, because first hand I encounter things that remind me that there is God. I also encounter things that remind me that I am just a mere instrument in this world serving Him for a greater purpose. That is why during my training years, when I tell the relatives of the patient that their patient have the x number of months to live, the patient either die early or never dies but becomes cured. My Solid Foundation, which is God is there reminding me that He is my “Via, Veritas, Vita” and Hope comes from Him and not from us, only from HIM, My Solid Rock!
It does not mean that all of us Sillimanians, here and around the world should pursue a medical career. Medical career or not, I know that Silliman University ingrained in us the word excellence. The kind of excellence that Silliman University has ingrained in us, is not only in terms of academic excellence but rather, in the words of Dr. Noriel Capulong, the values of humility, simplicity, kindness, love for the people and church, devotion to service, a sense of higher calling and purpose in life, integrity of character and a strong and undying faith in God.
We, as Sillimanians have been nurtured with a very strong solid foundation. And with this solid foundation, Sillimanians around the world should have Hope in everything including this challenge which is COVID-19.
Fear not, for this Solid Foundation will make us great warriors in our fight against COVID-19.
Finally, we go to the third question, “Why should we have a Solid Foundation?”
Because the scripture says in John chapter 8, verse 32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
In retrospect, it can be said that Hope and patience are indicators that we have anchored our life in God, the solid foundation, the source of truth, the truth that will set us free.
Silliman University, the institution born out of the benevolence and generosity of Dr. Horace B. Silliman; developed through the faithful dedication of its founder, Dr. David S. Hibbard; anchored by the university’s motto, the Via, Veritas, Vita, has become what it is today through Hope as reflected on its scriptural foundation found in 2nd Timothy chapter 2, verse19 that says, “The foundation of God standeth sure.” This institution’s 119th year of celebration is the living testimony of this year’s Founder’s day theme, Hope arising from a solid rock or a solid foundation!
Since this activity is live streamed via Facebook, I challenge everyone watching us today, Sillimanian or not, there is Hope with this pandemic but remember this Hope will arise from a very good foundation, a solid rock and most importantly with the grace and guidance of our Solid Rock and our Chief Cornerstone which is Jesus Christ.
Let us pray…
Lord Jesus Christ, We are very sorry that we have rejected you as Our Spiritual Solid Rock and Our Chief Cornerstone. We humbly ask You that You will always be with us, helping us and guiding us to discern that all information that comes across are TRUE and ACCURATE. Help us not to be persuaded by believing in information that will create more panic and more fear. We know that by your spiritual guidance and foundation everything is possible and hope arises. Amen.
Before, I end this sermon, I would like everybody to know that I am a neophyte in this arena of sermon-making and I humbly and gratefully thank the people who helped me with this 10 versions of this sermon. Thank you very much.
I am Kenneth Tan Coo, I am a Sillimanian and Silliman University is God’s instrument to know My Solid Rock, My “Via, Veritas, Vita.”
Again, Good Morning and Happy 119th Birthday Silliman University!!!