Five years ago, my father died due to cardiac arrest.
While he was struggling to stay alive in ICU, I prayed to God that first, I’d be by his side (I was in Manila and he was in Dumaguete that time). Second, that He’d heal my father, and third, that I’d be assigned in my hometown to personally take care of him. I had this beautiful vision of him and I taking an evening stroll in our quiet boulevard, and I claimed that vision.
The night before my scheduled flight, Papa left us.
I have taught about the value of prayer and gave numerous examples to students on how God answered me whenever I called on Him. On that dark night, my faith was severely shaken.
During the days of heavy mourning, the ONLY miracle that I can attest to was that my heart was not embittered toward God who seemingly went deaf to my desperate pleas.
On Papa’s burial day, I fully released a torrent of shameless sorrow, and even exposed anger at the betrayal I felt. My poor family took the brunt of my anger. I felt it was totally unfair that they had the chance to be with him in his final days.
I guess I was liberated to feel the full force of my pain on that day. The officiating pastor encouraged it. He even asked the mourners to understand us as a family as we expressed our sorrow. And he reminded them that even Jesus wept when one of his dear friends died. The Author of Life, the Resurrection, the all-powerful Creator, wept in the face of death! (John 11)
(image from crossinthewilderness.blogspot.com)
The sting of Papa’s death has long been gone. But I still dream about him. I know I will always miss him.
In my father’s death, I learned to surrender to a God who cannot be boxed by my ideals and preferences, and yes even by my most earnest prayers. I also learned not to be afraid to ask God the difficult questions that crowded in my heart. Finally, I learned not to be ashamed to reveal that I can also be very emotionally messed up before fellow mourners who knew I was a missionary. I’m glad they witnessed that hurting side of me, and I hope they realize that properly expressed grief is spiritual, too.
If you are grieving right now, I pray that your loved one’s death will somehow become a turning point toward a shaken and sifted, yet strengthened faith. I pray that with every tear and labored heaving, you’ll find comfort in God’s very real embrace through His Word and His people. I pray that you’ll experience the freedom of being real before the Lord, with all your raw emotions, questions and fears. And finally, I pray that as the days of mourning pass you by, you’ll experience His inner peace, enduring comfort and increasing strength.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”