Introductions 1: Welcome to my Nightmare

Picture this, Imagine that
Crawling on my fists, Lord, where you at?
on the bed alone, crying, body-broken and sad
like mice running away and death was the cat
2nd degree burns, failing liver, what choice was that?
Like caught in a vacuum, lose your voice in that?
broken toys in that Burlap Sack, thrown away like that
Flesh flaking, blow off the flies that my wounds attract
I’m shaking, throw off goodbyes that I shouldn’t have had.
Perspiring far too long, my skin burns right back.
Have I been gone too long? Just tell where my friends are at?
What have I done so wrong, to disappear like that?
We all stumble and fall.
Did love continue when my walk became a crawl?
Felt like the world was watching and I made a fool of us all.
… … … Time. Silence. Breath. Fall. Timing. Arriving. This hand I call.
Racing. Showcasing. Grace. On. New dawn. Has fallen. A new ship has gone. And …
A voice rings out, it rings loud, re-route this “doubt”
God removes the decibels (db) so we can see out
Quiet as the lion, dark as the sun
Small as the ocean, bigger than when time itself begun
“Be still your dreams, This is Redemption, Son,
Refill, jet-streams, with you I’ll run.
from rainbows and hell-fire, the Past broke from Future
just when you think you can never get over
you hold a boldness, right here on my shoulders
That these two become one, here on my shoulders……
We two become one, here on my shoulders
Even as the world gets colder, you’re still that little lamp sitting over my shoulders
you’re still that little lamp sitting over my shoulders”
Kenneth Koh, a Modern-day Job, March 2007 (before the worst was to come)

Dear friend,

Hi, I’m Ken.

My last 15 years saw me lose my health, relationships and career in a slow process, like a slow motion car crash (while burning slowly along the way), before God started a miraculous process to restore that which I had lost. I went from the very highs to the absolute lows. I had a rich closeness to God, knew the gospel of grace from a young age, in which I gave my life to His hands. So why did He allow all these to happen?

Earlier in my life, I had stints in engineering and teaching physics. A debilitating disease forced me to redefine myself as a self-taught financial trader which surreptitiously led to me being a professional market analyst before leading to where I am now, a business data analyst, stock market trader and strategy developer and noob writer. Before graduation from a respected Ivy-League college, I was a highly ranked competitive chess player, musician, well-liked and respected in Church.

During my brief stint in seminary in 2010, after hearing my story, my colleagues started to call me the “Modern Day Job”. I shudder to refer to myself to that, yet the name stuck.

The Slow Motion Crash

I’ve suffered from acute chronic atopic dermatitis (eczema) for the last 25 years. It got progressively worse till one year, I was 70% covered with infected inflammations and sores. During that time, every day was one of monotonous pain and suffering characterized by bleeding, infection, pus and plasma. Searing burning pain was all I knew. All this while, the medical specialists kept intensifying their anti-rejection drugs and steroids with no long term solution. I lost my career and many relationships. Though I’ve always had this condition as a young one, the severity started to escalate in the middle of college. After graduating with honors, I was stuck in a painful increasingly debilitating cycle for more than a decade. The extent of which was that I couldn’t even work outside of home and was out of the job market for 4 years (2007 – 2011). As each year continued to be worse, the interactions some doctors, friends and acquaintances further increased my existential questions as I soon found out first hand that the world is not too friendly with things they do not understand; and the further I fell into my personal abyss.
Below are then and now pictures of 1) the “slow-motion car crash” started to escalate from 2000, in my final year of college all the way to May 2015. This was my back and thighs at one of my darkest points in 2009.

Kenneth Koh Ezcema Severe LetterstoamoderndayJob Job-20151206

If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an under achiever. If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.
– Woody Allen

It wasn’t always like this.

Earlier in my life, I had a relatively strong faith for my age, girded with a spirituality, and maturity (at the age of 19). This was due no doubt because of the physical impairments, which started when I was younger which forced me to grasp aspects of the human experience (death, impairment, pain, hopelessness). I found God in a real way, through Jesus in the process. However, at the time, my disease was very inconvenient and painful, but it was still manageable. I could still excel in life as long as put in a strong effort. The efforts, combined with God’s help, lead to inspiring victories – a chess champion, achievements in school and church, being an integral part of many people’s lives. Years later however, the illness continued getting progressively worse. What was a strong inconvenience soon morphed into an unstoppable wall. In due time, I was slowly cooking in my Abyss. I was forced to wrestle with atheist / agnostic worldviews while my entire life was collapsing around me. The indifference and impatience of people added to the disappointment. However, through God’s grace and timing, and after my darkest points from 2009 – 2015, God has begone an unmistakable restorative work. Tangible acts of God started to save me from the Abyss. I am finally finding my faith again with new layers of maturity and wisdom.

This allowed me to see the world in a different light which was impossible before. This led me to a more beautiful discovery of Jesus, an intimate knowledge of the Abyss, and a conviction to help others in a similar situation. Like one of my favorite authors, Phillip Yancey, I’m a pilgrim, still “in recovery” from bad church experiences, an unfriendly darwinistic world, and am always searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller.

Today, I feel like I had been awoken from a strange dream.

Picture this, Imagine that
Crawling on my fists, Lord, where you at?
on the bed alone, dying, I was broken and sad
like mice running away and death was the cat
2nd degree burns, failing liver, what kind of choice was that?
Like caught in a vacuum, lose your voice in that?
broken toys in that Burlap Sack, thrown away like that
Flesh flaking, blow off the flies that my wounds attract
I’m shaking, throw off goodbyes that I shouldn’t have had.
Perspiring far too long, my skin burns right back.
Have I been gone too long? Just tell where my friends are at?
Has it gone too wrong? Tell me why my friends do that?
Has it gone so wrong? I never meant that.
I never meant that.
Kenneth Koh, a Modern-day Job, March 2007 (Part 1)

Picture this, I would be crawling out of the bathroom on all floors, tears involuntarily weeping from my eyes, saliva dripping out from my mouth as I just endured volumes of acid burning down my body. It burned and burned until my brain was numb and temporarily lost control of some muscle functions. This was called that daily process called “taking a shower”. This was when pains would be the worst.

Even when not showering, it was still very painful. I had to deal with different parts of my body having 1st degree burns, 2nd degree burns, pimples, pus, warts, infections, the list goes on. From my face to my feet. At one time, people used to call me “cute”. Now, I am disfigured. There were many days which I felt I was a zombie. A walking dead. A crawling dead. Flesh was falling off me, as my soul died slowly. Dreams of having a career, a partner, a life, were becoming more and more distant. There was no cure. Nothing seemed to help. No one knew the extent of how bad my Atopic Dermatitis, or Eczema was. The effect is not just skin deep, my immune system was out of wack. Almost everything (climate, stress etc) caused my immune system to attack myself.


My mind and body ravaged internally as well by 300mg of Ciclosporin, steroid creams and pills, antihistamines, mood enhancers, antibiotics and sleeping pills. My mental functions regressed so badly and I lived half-awake. If I were fully awake, the physical pains might have been too much.

On top of my body being unstable internally and externally. There was a sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Those drugs (especially Ciclosporin) were slowly causing complications… thinning skin, migraines, hyperventilation, blood pressure issues, and fainting spells. I also knew that prolonged usage of such drugs would cause liver damage. 15 years seemed to be the rule of thumb of how long one can take high doses before some organ complication. But without the drugs, I wouldn’t have lasted long. The inflammations would have gone out of control. In the past, it had gone out of control more than 20 times before, forcing the doctors to more drastic measures. That’s why eventually, the specialist resigned me to my fate, that I would not be able to survive without the drugs of these magnitudes on a long-term basis. How does one live now? Either I die soon or I die 15 years later. What sort of sordid choice is that?

Whether soon or later, which ever lifespan I had, I would have to live in discomfort in the darkness; unable to go out in the sun which would exacerbate the problem. So I’d live like a vampire or sorts. But not the pretty Twilight ones. I’d only go out when the sun was down, and even then, I wouldn’t stay out long without the discomfort reaching levels that pulled me back home.

But this was a day in my life. There was nowhere to hide. And everyday I am reminded that my hourglass is running out of sand. With every new complication, I was reminded that I am walking one step closer to the end of my pirate’s plank. While I walked this journey, I see the world progressing without me. A sad reality.

In the closed doors of my room, I would usually be found in curled up in a twisted ball in the corner of the room. I’m twisted because I could only sit down or lean on the wall with parts of my body that had less inflammations. I’m naked because cloths would stick to me, and I’m sick of having to wash them so often.

Fetal position 2

No one really knew how bad it really was. I would never go out when it was that bad. My door is usually closed or locked. If my parents knocked on the door, I would get off the fetal position I was in to greet them, smile and talk about the projects I was thinking of to maintain whatever little dignity I had left. I might have shared with them Bible verses too.

That’s the day in the life.

Multiply this day by 365.

Multiply this by another 10 years and more.

Augment this hopelessness with the fact that the best medicine could not find a real solution.

Add in the deepest pains of seeing many church friends I used to serve with unwilling to hold my hand as I saw my world slowly collapse.

Add in people pedantically tell me that I didn’t have enough faith, the right type of faith, positive thinking or wasn’t doing the right things.

Add in atheists laughing at me, “where is the God you served so fervently now?”

Add in doctors insisting that I could recover “if I tried hard enough.”

Add in even some Christians nonchalantly remarking, “if only you had enough faith…”

Add in many family and friend relationships being strained.

Imagine all these groups of people judging me because they underestimated the magnitude of the collapse, or underestimated the faithfulness of my God.

Now imagine me knowing that I had more faith and had a seeking heart more than they will ever know, yet there is nothing I could say because I was cursed. As they say, it is the winners that write history, and I was just a loser in the darkness. At one time I was the toast of my community, now I’m just toast.

This was my world. This was my Abyss.

Welcome to my Nightmare that never seemed to end.



BUT, that’s not the end of the story. *SMILEY*

By 2016, almost everything changed.

… … … Time. Silence. Dark. Breath. Fall. Mauling. Timing. Shining. Rhyming. Arriving. Call.
A voice rings out, quiet as a lion, dark as the sun
Small as the ocean, bigger than when time itself begun
“I saw. Be still your heart, redemption, Son,
Zahkor, even if no one walks with you, with you I’ll run.
from rainbows and hellfire, the past broken from the future
just when you think you can never get over
two become one, here on my shoulders.”
– Kenneth Koh, a Modern-day Job, March 2007 (Part 2)
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock…
For my father and mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
– Psalm 27: 5,10 (NASB)

to be continued in – Introduction 2: Real Grace. The Great Erase and Replace.