Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. - Romans 10:9 (Common English Bible)
My grandfather recently died and, I’ll admit, it’s been hard for our family. Throughout this experience, I’ve noticed that in times of loss, people hold on to objects and memories to revive what was once there. The body lays with lights illuminating over it, creates a sense of positivity in such a dark situation. No matter how hard we try, when a person close to our hearts dies, it is never easy to stay happy.
[Papang] was our dose of heaven.
“Papang,” as we would call our grandfather, was the kindest person I knew. When we were children and Mama would scold the human out of us he’d come to the rescue. When my mother and father went through the process of separating, Papang was there to help us escape the reality through his peculiar way of telling jokes. He was our dose of heaven.
So when he left, it felt like hell took over. I battled with the fact that if God loved him, he would have allowed him to stay a bit longer. If he’s compassionate, he would’ve let him die in the most peaceful way. But Papang didn’t stay forever; he did suffer before life was taken away from him.
As I was contemplating at his wake, seeing people filled me with memories of a man who I am grateful for, I couldn’t escape a sense of hopelessness. The fact that I could not change our situation filled me with ugly thoughts and I questioned God.
God doesn’t just leave his followers in these dark places
When God called his followers in the Old and New Testaments, many complained at first but some simply followed. Along every follower’s journey came a series of troubles that they never expected, each of which pushed them to question and plead and demand of God. Whatever came out of their mouths, as long as it took express their grief, God listened. God doesn’t just leave his followers in these dark places; God takes a few steps back and reminds us that in the process of grief, when we think that there is no way out, his light will lead us toward the path of salvation.
My Grandmother was the last person I talked to that on first night of Papang’s wake. What she told me allowed God’s light to shine over the hell I am going through. She recalled that days before Papang died they had an argument. She wanted for Papang to be cremated so that his ashes could be placed in their house. Papang argued, leaving me breathless with his comment; “Ayaw ko mag-cremate ako kasi pag dumating ulit si Jesus, wala akong katawan na babalikan.” In English it means, “I do not want to be cremated, for I won’t have a body to use when Jesus comes again”.
Whether he meant it as a joke or not, this last memory of the man who told me jokes as a child led me back to believing. It led me back to my salvation. It paved the way for me to see the living rather than the dead in me.
Discussion Question: How has God helped you see the path through the dark places?