I was at work when my sister called, “Daddy has cancer, and the doctor is giving him only six months to live.” It was June, 1996, and the first time we had heard anything about him having cancer. I left work, jumped in my car and drove an hour to Lansing, MI from Detroit screaming and crying all the way there. I refused to believe that my dad had just received a death sentence.
Once I arrived to Lansing, my mom, who was the epitome of strength at such a weak time, gave me the run down about the doctor’s plan to start Chemotherapy, and what we should expect going forward.
The next few months were an emotional rollercoaster. With each passing month my dad’s health spiraled downhill. The hardest part of it was seeing my dad, who was once a man on-the-go, stripped of his ability to walk. The cancer had spread to his bones. I watched how his frail body struggled to use a walker just to get from the bedroom to the kitchen. I remember walking behind him thinking, “That is NOT my dad!” My dad is outgoing; he rides motorcycles, he lift weights, he is strong, and he tinkers with cars. He shouldn't be using a walker.
On October 26, 1996, after giving my dad a kiss good-bye and telling him that I loved him, I left the hospital and drove back to Detroit. Shortly after I arrived back the phone rang, it was my sister calling, this time it was to deliver news I dread would one day come. “Tammy, daddy died.” The best way for her to say it, was just to say it. There was no beating around the bush or leading up to it. I replied with one word…, “Ok.” Then I hung up the phone. I sat down on the edge of my bed, and very somberly and without any feeling of sincerity I said, “Lord, I praise You.” I love You. I took a deep breath and finished off with, “and I magnify Your name.” Then I cried.
The next morning I was rejoicing! Yes, you read it right. Rejoicing! Weeping may have endured for a night, but joy did come in the morning (Psalms 30:5). What happened? How could I praise God in the midst of such a tragic loss? Shouldn’t I have been blaming God, wondering how could He have let this happen? Why didn’t He heal my dad after all the praying and believing? Why did my dad have to die?
Remember Job, in the bible, when all of his kids died a tragic death, his cattle was burned up, his sheep was stolen, his health failed him and yet, in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:27). As a matter of fact he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him:” (Job 13:15). No matter what you face, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time, no matter how tragic the loss, you must trust God enough to yet praise Him. But, I lost my mother. Praise Him anyway! My child was murdered. Praise Him anyway! I lost my job and now I am about to lose my house. Praise Him anyway! My spouse walked out on me. Praise Him anyway!
Sacrifice, is the act of giving up something you desperately want to hold on to. Sacrifices test your strength, willingness, and loyalty. Are you able to still praise God regardless of the situation? Is He, or is He not God at all times in your life? I responded to the news that my dad had returned home to the Lord, by first praising God. As a result, I believe God got right in the middle of me and the pain. His joy became my strength. Did I still hurt? Did I shed tears? Yes, and that’s ok. There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to move on. You cannot become stuck in regrets, or what could have or should have happened. You still have a life of purpose that must be fulfilled. You must live on. Others are counting on you.
When Moses died, the people mourned for 30 days and then it was time to move on. His successor, Joshua, was in place, and God had instructed him to continue the journey over the Jordan, which Moses was leading before he died. Just because Moses was dead didn’t mean God was dead. He is alive and waiting on you to cross your Jordan. He has equipped you to get to the other side of your grief. Here are a few reminders to help you along:
1. Keep praising God! When every strong force seems to be against your mind and emotions, sacrifice, release words of praise to God. Don’t hold on to your perceived right to be bitter or angry. Give it over to Him by praising Him.
2. Be thankful- I was 26 years old when my dad died, but I found the strength to say to God, “Thank you for the 26 years I had with my dad. Some had less than that. Some didn’t know their father at all, but I had the privilege of having him in the same household and for that Lord, I thank You.” There will always be something to be thankful for.
3. Mourn for a season, not for a lifetime- Despite what we may have lost we were created to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesian 6:10). You were built to handle whatever comes your way. Don’t spend your life dying, live for God.
4. Your loved one is in your future- If you are a born-again Christian, and so was your loved one, then they are in your future. You will see them again. They are still living! They just live elsewhere right now. It’s supernatural, but I have never felt my dad’s absence. He is alive in my heart. I find comfort in knowing that I will see him again.
5. Don’t blame God- Fix your mind to believe that NEVER will God be the problem. Whatever happened, it wasn’t because God failed. He NEVER fails. Somewhere along the way someone missed it, but it was not God.
6. Forgive- Forgive all those involved, including you, who may have been the reason for your pain. Unforgiveness will clog the path to your healing. It will root in your heart slowly destroying your health.
7. Know that God loves you. What can separate you from the love of God? Nothing! His love will guide you to the other side. You will rejoice again.
So, if death ever knocks on the door of your family know this: the corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1Corinthians 15:54-55,57).
In the end, we ALWAYS win!
Written ByTamara L. Dean