"Our life is like a glass. A glass looks hardy and beautiful when you place it on a table, but if it falls off the table, it breaks. This is how fragile our life is. But only now do I understand who controls this glass."
I can still remember vividly these words of my late father. Though he believed in the Lord for only two and a half years before he passed away, the Lord had given him this understanding that God controls his life. Very often we comfort others in trouble, telling them not to worry, as God is in control of everything. But how many of us are willing to believe our very own words when we are in trouble?
Stepping onto the Threshold of Faith In November 1995, when I returned home from university, my mother tearfully broke the news that my father had contracted stomach cancer. I was shocked and at a loss for what to do. He was not a believer at that time. My mother was already attending church occasionally, so we both thought that we should ask my father to come to church and seek God's help. I decided to pray and requested some church brothers to pray about this matter also.
The next day, my entire family came to church together. I thought to myself that it would be so wonderful if God were to save my entire household. We could then come to church together as a family in Christ. This was the first time that my father had stepped into a church. He has been a very strong atheist all his life. Even this first visit was only agreed to grudgingly, after much persuasion.
But most wonderfully, God worked during my father's very first church experience. The Holy Spirit moved him when the sermon was given, and he started to tremble. During the concluding hymn and prayer, tears flowed from his eyes. It was like a prodigal son returning to his father.
After the service, my father remarked that he should have come to know about God earlier and hoped that his returning now was not too late. The minister then comforted him that what he had just experienced demonstrated the wonderful love of God and that it was never too late to turn to the Lord for salvation.
Peaceful Reprieve Thank God that after my father attended his first church service, he experienced the peace of God in the midst of uncertainty and trouble from his illness. Such peace was what Jesus described as not given by the world but by Him (Jn 14:27).
My father did not lose sleep and was able to trust that God takes care of everything. He underwent a successful surgery, experiencing God's presence with him. After the operation he commented, "if I had not believed in God, the sounds made by the surgical tools would have scared me to death." His recovery from his surgery was miraculously fast.
In December 1995, my family was baptized during the spiritual meeting. I can only thank God for such amazing grace and praise Him for His work in bringing salvation to my household within a short, two-month period. I understood that His wonderful will was behind each thing that He allowed us to encounter in life. My father's illness opened a way to salvation for my family.
Thank God that my father grew in his faith after baptism. He attended all the evening and Sabbath services and prayed daily. Our family also experienced the joy of going to church to worship God together. I felt very happy and blessed.
Under the Shepherd's Care In January 1997, the doctor told us that my father's cancer had recurred. This time it had spread to his liver, and he was expected to live for only six months. We were saddened by this news. The six months that followed became a trying but meaningful period for our family's faith.
I remember one occasion when I prayed earnestly to God. During the prayer, God strengthened me and reassured me that He would take care of my family, and that He would be like a shepherd who would lead us through all that might happen. I was greatly comforted and placed my complete trust in God.
Our family started to pray together nightly to ask for God's guidance and for God to bestow the Holy Spirit on my father. We experienced fellowship in prayers, and this brought my family closer. Church ministers and brethren visited my father very often during his illness and encouraged him to trust in God and to pray for the Holy Spirit. After a long period of persistent prayer, my father received the Holy Spirit.
Though it pained us to see him deteriorating physically each day, it helped us to have the faith to trust in God and to believe in the unseen (2 Cor 4:18). My mother experienced God helping her while she took care of my father during the last stage of his life. Her own health had never been good, and she had undergone four operations previously. But God granted her the physical strength to serve my father's needs. She testified herself that when she looked back at those days, she could not imagine how she had done it. We can only give all the glory to God.
My father was called to rest in the Lord in June 1997. He passed away peacefully at home. God comforted us tremendously. My father did not experience pain throughout the most difficult period of his illness, and the doctors were astonished that he did not complain about any pain. Even now, we still have a few boxes of painkillers at home. Not a single pill was taken.
God's Purpose in All Things Although we were sad over the demise of my father, we saw the wonderful hand of God guiding us through those times. The peaceful departure of my father also comforted us greatly, and our faith and conviction toward the Lord was greatly strengthened. I understood that true spiritual joy was not derived just from good things that happened to us; if we submit to God and trust in His guidance, we can find comfort and joy in Him in all things.
Many question the love and mercy of God when they experience trials and tribulations. Their problems seem insurmountable, and they fail to see the will of God as they go through them. But looking back, the will of God is clear to me now. God allowed these things to happen so that my entire household could receive salvation. God wanted us to exercise our faith by putting complete trust in Him. Through our trial, He gave us the opportunity to draw closer to Him.
While going through this difficult period, I had wondered whether it was the will of God to heal my father. That was what I desired God to accomplish, and I prayed earnestly for it. But I later learned not to impose my own will, but to submit to the will of God and completely entrust all things to Him.
For my father, his life was like a glass that fell from the table and shattered. But I believe that the Lord who saves his soul will keep him safe till we meet in the kingdom of God. As for those of us who are still alive, we should take the advice from King Solomon to remember our Creator while alive, to keep His commandments, to fear Him, and to understand that He must have created us for His wonderful purpose.
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well. (Eccl 12:6)
To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet 5:11)