There comes a time in everyone’s lives, let alone the believer's, when we see the harsh reality of living life in a sinful world. The parallels of Life and Death are on either side of us at all times, and it’s a tricky road to walk.
Rewind to three months ago . . . I was in a state of bliss. My married life had just begun. After a great day of shopping with the husband, I went to my parents’ place three streets away from mine. My mom made a big fuss when I came home - she treated me like I still hadn’t left her nest. I enjoyed it thoroughly! I remember that day so vividly. When she got me a glass of milk to drink, she combed my hair and told me how she waited impatiently for my visits.
Why do I remember this particular day above any other? Because only a month later, she left our abode for the eternal one above.
My world was left shattered. Now, I often think of how life changes in a day. To call it "the death of a loved one" is an understatement here.
My mother was suffering from jaundice-like symptoms for 2 months before she was hospitalised, where they diagnosed her with a rare liver disease. A week later, she left with faith.
My faith, on the other hand, was a different story. My faith had always been honoured by God, I thought this time would be no exception. Till the point of her death, I held on with faith so strong that tears never fell. But God taught me the FIRST important lesson that day. Proverbs 19:21:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
It could not have been clearer than that. At all times, no matter what we plan, who we plan it with and how we plan it . . . short-term goals, long-term dreams . . . God’s will prevails above all. And hallelujah for that, because when it falls within His will, He will most definitely carry us through the good and bad of it all.
I dreaded the days that lay ahead. I knew I would be a wreck without my mother. My mother kept teaching me how to live life until the very point of her death. She taught me everything I knew about God before I started experiencing His power and presence myself. She taught me how to put God first before anything and everything. She taught how it was God and me against the world.
I remember my Uncle putting an arm around me and asking me this question, “Who do you think can fill the void your mother left?” I had an immediate answer, “No one.” After all, who could replace the love, the laughter, the lessons a mother gave? But he disagreed. He told me otherwise. “It’s God. Only He can.”
I was proved wrong. God did fill that void. In my bitter sorrow that over-shadowed all, I never even asked God for help. But He still held me through my pain, just like my mother used to do. Whenever I miss my mother now, I remember her laughter with a smile on my face, because I have the assuring voice of God telling me that she’s laughing now -- ten times more joyfully than she ever did on Earth! She’s in a place of never-ending happiness and no sorrow. She’s no longer in the state of pain that she previously was. She no longer has to carry the burdens she did in this world. On the other hand, we, on Earth, have not yet reached that place.
This is where God taught me the SECOND important lesson. John 16:33:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
This verse that seemed so unrelatable at some point in life, when life was so rosy, suddenly seems so glaringly obvious now. Earlier, I used to breeze through this verse with a confident shrug that God had it all covered. He most definitely has, even now, but not in the way we perceive -- in ways unfathomable to human perception. Sometimes, ways that may bring bitter sorrow and disappointment, but always done with the best of intentions from God.
Finally, the THIRD important lesson that God led me to learn was from someplace unorthodox. It was something I had read a while back by a man of celebrity status, who had posted on Twitter,
Say it before you run out of time. Say it before it’s too late. Say what you’re feeling. Waiting is a mistake.
God made sure I learned this before my mom went and I’m so glad He did! If there is one thing that I have no regrets about, it is this. I loved my mom so much and I took an effort to make sure she knew it. From the point that I realised what an amazing blessing it was to have my mother, I thanked her for any gesture of hers, both big and small. I appreciated her efforts to keep me happy and spent any and every spare time on the phone with her when we were apart. I do know that this isn’t an innate character trait of mine, but rather a character trait inherited from my mother. God taught me to appreciate people’s love, but more importantly, at the right time. To say a simple thank you would even suffice (if not a return in the same way) because it expresses your acknowledgement of their efforts, before it’s too late to say so.
I realised that we might be led to believe that our loved ones will stay with us for a significant period of time, if not forever. But that is the most dangerous facade we can believe in. Rather, we need to open our minds and look at the ones we have now. Who are these people that God has placed in our lives to fill it with love and happiness? Anyone from family to a friend to even a stranger who made a difference. Let’s not forget to acknowledge a selfless gesture. Let’s not forget to give the love that God taught us to share. Let’s strive to emulate our God and His Agape love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Life may be difficult now, without my mother but it's not impossible -- as I imagined my life would be. God has stayed by my side, His presence has always been near, not because I asked Him to, but without conditions, because that is the God we serve. I knew the love of my mother for a short 23 years, but it has filled a lifetime for me. What comes next is the blessed assurance that God has started filling the void my mother left, the moment she took flight . . .