When the Bell Tolls

Whenever someone I know passes away, death’s inevitability feels soberingly close. It is not so much that I fear death. I cling to the blessed hope that I have in Christ — the gift of eternal life made possible through his finished work on the cross. However, I must admit that I don’t like thinking about the dying part.

Please, not drowning.

I would rather have my head chopped off. Of course, going in my sleep would be even better. Or…just getting raptured along with my loved ones like I used to pray for as a child (I still do!).

Two days ago, I found out that Elijah’s yaya, Fe, died at 3 pm in the afternoon. She was Elijah’s nanny until he was about three years old and then moved back to Dumaguete to take care of her sickly father. Last year, she worked for us again. In July, she told me she had to return to the province because she was not well and wanted to be with her family. We stayed in touch and I found out in September that she had cancer.

Hearing the news of her passing was heartbreaking. I could not sleep that night. Whenever I hire household help, I make it a point to really build a relationship with them. Fe was one of those women whom I grew close to. She dearly loved our family. We had shared the gospel with her and prayed with her to received Jesus as her Lord and Savior years ago. And she was a very kind and selfless person. She didn’t even want to accept financial help for her sickness, nor did she reveal the gravity of her cancer.

Tragedy makes me hunger for heaven. As Edric and I age, more and more people we know die. I suppose that is only logical. We find ourselves at wakes and funerals without many weeks or months in between each one. As always, the pain and suffering compel me to look beyond the period that is death. Surely, there must be something more when a life is cut short, when one is gone too soon, when sickness or disease takes a loved one?

On the one hand, I wish that somehow they could be again, right there, present and tangible. Yet I know that yearning is futile. The only recourse is to move on, less I pine away for a longing that cannot be. This is when grief confuses me. As a follower of Jesus who believes with all her heart that there is a heaven, I often feel that the pain of loosing someone eclipses the joyful expectation of eternity. I feel down. I feel detached. It is still difficult to come to terms with the absence that death leaves behind.

So I console myself by looking to the Lord and fixing my eyes on him. It is he who decides the end from the beginning, who determines the course of events, who fixes the times of a season, who allows one to live and another to fall. My great disappointment is not towards this attribute of God, who, in his sovereignty gives or takes away. I trust that he is loving and good. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything appropriate in its time…” My great disappointment is with sin and the consequences it brings into this world, death being one of them, pain and suffering being another.

I recognize that my desire to get away from all of this is God-given. God wants me to resist complacency. What am I living for? What am I doing to tell others about the hope that Christ gives?

More than any other occasion, wakes and funerals make me quietly consider the need and urgency to tell more people about Jesus. I want to quote my mother-in-law who said, “Everyone needs something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”

This is an afflicted world, but Jesus offers us a hope that no other can. Because he died and rose again, offering himself as the sacrifice for sin and confirming his power to do so by conquering death, it is by him that we are saved. And until he comes again or takes me earlier, I should be proclaiming this as often as possible. People need eternal life to look forward to.

Unfortunately, I can get so preoccupied with self-centered and worldly thinking that many times, my perspective never rises above planet earth. My thoughts are not lofty but revolve around home management, taking care of my family, fashion and beauty, useless gossip and speculations about people, Amazon Prime, Facebook, blogging, researching about pregnancy, what is my next errand, and am I getting fatter…It’s really quite sad that my head is stuffed full of these things so that I am distracted when I read my Bible and when I pray.

So this entry is part realization and part confession that Fe’s death was a good wake up call to detoxify my inner self. I needed some soul cleansing. I needed a spiritual revival. I needed to remember that I don’t have all the time in the world to seek God, serve him and tell others about him.

At the beginning of this year, I heard this song by Laura Story: Blessings and the words really ministered to me. Take the time to view this link. Her song gives a positive perspective on how God can use difficult circumstances as unexpected forms of blessings.

8 thoughts on “When the Bell Tolls

  1. “please, not drowning” – I love your sense of humor, Joy! 🙂 Although yes, it’s supposed to be a sad blog. But I find all your posts so entertaining & inspiring. Your blog shows the “human” side of being a CHRISTian.. warts & all. And I’m sure like me, all your other readers appreciate your candidness, honesty & being down-to-earth too. Thank you for always sharing your experiences with us. I love all your stories about your family, you are a part of my daily reads. Please continue to enlighten & inspire us. I have always loved Pastor Peter Tanchi, & now I love your dear growing family too! 🙂 A blesses new year! :-*

  2. Thank you very much for sharing that song, Joy. I needed that and somehow it gave me the answer to all the feelings and longing that I have been feeling of late. I pray that you continue to be a blessing and inspiration to us who read your blog.

    1. Oh I am so sorry to hear that, Dyna. It is a wonderful song and I am glad God used it to comfort you. May he continue to bring healing as you deal with the loss of your loved one.

  3. Hi Joy, I cried with this blog entry. Suddenly missed my dad who passed away 17 years ago. I told a dear friend who lost her dad just recently that you never get to prepare yourself for a death of a loved one even when sickness has overtaken his body and pain has become part of his daily existence. I remember seeing my father in so much pain and telling God that if it is not part of His sovereign plan to heal him, I would rather that He take dad home. And when God did, I had to deal with the guilt of praying that way. Years later did I fully accept that God did what He needed to do and that death is really just all part of living in this corrupted world.. and yes just like what you said, it made me long for a time and a place where I don’t have to deal with this sin-stained world – with all its pain and ugliness. Thanks for this blog Joy!

    1. Thanks for sharing this with me, Marje. I appreciate you. May God continue to minister to your heart and help you to heal. It is always hard to lose a loved one. I can’t imagine what you went through…

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