My name is Joel and my wife's name is Guat. We have two daughters, both are in their twenties.
We became Christians about eight years ago when Guat had her first battle with kidney cancer. After removing the cancerous kidney, Guat was in remission for six years. About two years ago, the cancer resurfaced and attacked her remaining kidney. It soon spread to her lungs and got into the bones which led to the breaking of her thigh bone. Her mobility was affected and she could only move around with a walker or on a wheelchair. Eventually the cancer reached her spine in July 2004 and she became bedridden. Guat passed away on 10 September 2004. She is now in heaven with Jesus.
I want to share with you two things. Firstly how Jesus carried us, comforted us and strengthened us during Guat's illness and secondly, how he carried us through our grief following Guat's death. He alone can provide the needed comfort, peace and strength. Through the pain and suffering, we were drawn closer to Jesus.
I thank Jesus for his many provisions. As Guat's condition deteriorated, our dear friends and church members came regularly to pray with us, comfort us, keeping us company and sharing this journey with us. Some of them cooked and brought special food for Guat and also meals for our two girls and I. They were all concerned for us. I thank Jesus for all of them through the pain and suffering, I can see Jesus in their faces and in their love and care .
The hospital doctors gave us bottles of morphine to bring home. These were to help Guat to take away the pain. But Guat only wanted to take the barest minimum. She did not want to be doped out or sleeping practically all the time should she take the required morphine dosage. She preferred a clear mind ....to know what was going on ....even if she had to bear some pain. As a result, even in pain, she was able to talk to us, laugh with us, joke with us. But most important to her, she was able to talk to Jesus ....to praise him and to worship him. Many times in the middle of the night, while lying on her bed, she would raise up her right hand and in a raspy voice she would praise and worship Jesus. I am sure during the nights when it was all dark and quiet she must have been thinking what would her future be. But instead of despairing, she found her comfort and strength in Jesus and that was why she could worship him there and then. He is always there for her.
Because she had Jesus she had no fear of death. But that did not mean that she did not want to live. She wanted a longer life - we all wanted her to live longer. She wanted to see our girls getting married. She wanted to see and care for grandchildren. Both of us wanted to have more time together. Our dear friends joined us regularly to pray for a miracle healing. But towards the end, both Guat and I sensed that Jesus' plan for her was going to be different ....that she would be going home to him. Jesus continued to give us his peace . She knew that she would be going to a much better place where there will no longer be any pain ....no tears and that she will be in the presence of God. She also knew that Jesus will good take care of me, our two girls and her mother.
She asked Jesus to grant her certain requests. Firstly, she hoped that when the time come for her to go home ....she would feel no pain. Secondly, she would like me to be with her....holding her hand ....you see, we were a couple doing things together most of the time. Facing death and holding hands would be our last time together on earth as a couple.
Her third request was that she wanted her two brothers to come to know Jesus. You know ....throughout her two years of suffering, Guat never wailed or cried loudly. Yet on three occasions during her last days she wept uncontrollably for her brothers ....that they will accept Jesus into their lives.
I want to thank God that on that day that Guat went home.... I was there besides her ....holding her hand. We shared a precious moment together. I prayed with her and sang one of her favourite worship songs to her. There was no pain or suffering when she peacefully went home to God.
Guat had always wanted her life to be one that glories God. After her death I asked myself - what gives God the greater glory? A miraculous physical healing from cancer and that she can walk again? Or is it going home to Jesus in a manner that honours him....what may be called a triumphant crossing from death to eternal life in Jesus. When Jesus brought Guat home, there was no fear in her. There was peace. She was never angry with God but continued to trust him and to love him. Jesus gave her the assurance that he will look after her loved ones. Jesus put into her heart to forget her own situation and to cry out to him for her brothers’ welfare. She trusted God to answer her cries. So between a miraculous healing and going home in a miraculous and triumphant manner that honours God,....I truly believe that Guat's triumphant crossing from death to eternal life ....her victory over death ....gave God the greater glory.
But how do we cope with grief over these months since Guat's death? You know ....because we love ....so too we will grieve when there is a separation from the one you loved. There are days when something may trigger my mind and bring back memories and grief sets in.
At such times, God continues to be my comfort and my strength. I remembered an incident that took place more than three months ago….the exact date being 7 October. I was feeling down and missing Guat. But I have to attend to certain matters and to make some phone calls. I looked for the blue notebook with the phone numbers but it was missing. Searching high and low, I found a similar blue notebook in a drawer. On opening it, I realised that it was the wrong book. Page 107 stared at my face. It was a book that contained Guat's writings. These writings were done before March 2004 as after March she was unable to write anymore because of the cancer.
It contained the following verses :
" Home is heaven
Cs Lewis - Our father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will never encourage us to mistake them for home.
Selwyn Hughes - Death is merely a transition - it is like stepping out the verandah that opens to the house of many rooms."
I was overwhelmed by the significance of this experience. The extent of God's love and care for me. I saw page 107 as the date of that day - 7 October. Although Guat's wrote those verses down earlier than March 2004, it was as though that she was speaking to me that night to tell me that she is in heaven and she has found indescribable joy and peace. It is a personal note signed by Guat and all done and arranged by God. God gave me tremendous peace and joy that night.
This is one encounter. There were others. Healing is already taking place in our lives. I thank God for his love and compassion.
Guat is in heaven now. She is full of joy and peace. The bible tells us that in God's presence there is fullness of joy and at his right are pleasures forevermore. I am happy for her as she will be celebrating her first Christmas in heaven with Jesus.
Yes, I will still miss her. We all will still miss her because we love her very much. But we must release her and ourselves from whatever grief we may still have. To hold on to her and even to wish that she is here right now with us while she is celebrating with indescribable joy in heaven would be selfishness on our part. Guat's journey on earth is over. I am still on my journey. One day my journey too will end and I will see Guat again and will experience the joy that she is experiencing now in God's presence.
Glory to God in the highest.
God bless all of you.