Lillian Wong: Facing Grief

After our dancercise, I thanked Dr. Lillian Tabrani for sharing about Joe Holcombe and asked her if she could share about grief. Here, with her blessing, I share her answer with you:

Besides being my parent, my mom is also my closest friend so when she passed away, it was like losing two persons at the same time. It was really painful. In that time of grief, during my devotion, I came across this verse:

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

It really touched my heart. I told God, “Even though I’m alone, You know I needed comfort at this time.”  My mom passed away at the age of 82 and His Word helped me realize that my mom got a bonus of twelve grace years.  Even in the midst of my sorrow, His grace abounds, even more.  

My dad died of old age at 93. . . at home.  He was a slow eater and often dozed off while eating.  He would be nudged awake, asked to finish chewing his food but this one time, he went into eternal sleep.  No pain, no struggle,  no suffering; only rest.  What a blessed way to go home to the Lord while being physically nourished.  

With my sister, she went home to be with the Lord at 59.  I was in the US when she passed away eights months after being diagnosed with cancer.  I was tasked to clear her things and I found her testimony on being a Christian and the courses she attended to grow in intimacy with the Lord.  She’s very quiet who doesn’t share much about herself and it brought me to tears as I read through her journals how much she loves the Lord and how intimate she is with Him.  My sister never married and indeed just like Song of Solomon 3:4 says: ‘I have found the One whom my souls loves.’  Then I told God, “Lord, what comfort and joy to know that my sister has a close relationship with You.”

Like what Joe Holcombe said, when you know where they’re going, it helps.  I miss them all— my mom, dad, and sister,— but to know that they had put their faith in Jesus as their Savior and that they’re bound for heaven… grief evolves into just missing their presence; the pain that comes with mourning over losing someone you love is slowly but progressively removed. It’s like they just went ahead on a long holiday but I will see them there when it’s my turn.

When 2 Cor 1:3 refers to God as the God of All Comfort, the “all” there implies that the comfort He gives to heal the pain is complete and whole, not lacking and without flaw.  He can comfort us in all the places we hurt.  Knowing where our loved ones are going was key for me to face and overcome grief.  These are grief from loss of loved ones.  

What about grief from a failed relationship?  That time for me was the greatest grief I had ever experienced.  Some people go through this kind of grief with a group of friends or family members, some kind of  team effort.  I was alone living in HongKong away from family and close friends when it happened.  When you look sideways , there is no one around. There is only one way to look. . . upwards.  I had to look to God.  

In those years, I was not one who read the Bible daily.  I was distracted with so many things but this time when I was heartbroken and alone, I only had the Bible to keep me company.  I just picked it up and read it everyday.  It was my only refuge until I finished it from cover to cover, even though I couldn’t understand everything that I read.  I was like this soldier trying hard to climb to the top of the mountain.  I didn’t want to stop (even when I was tired and couldn’t understand what I was reading) because I could imagine myself slipping and going downhill if I did. Instead, I would picture myself soaking in His Word as though in a bubble bath where the ‘bubbles’ are the letters in the Bible.  I said, “ Lord, I don’t understand what I am reading but I know that as I soak in Your Word, by the principle of diffusion, all these ‘bubbles’ (Your Word) will cause Your light to shine in my darkest moment, bring  hope and healing into my inner being and then I am going to be strengthened, restored, renewed.” And He did.    

I believe that  when you seek Him earnestly, you will find Him;  He will open up your eyes, your heart, and you will gain spiritual insight.  I learned that such insight is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit and it lies in abiding in Him, obeying Him, and soaking in His Word daily.  I told God,” These are not dead letters printed on a page.  Your Word is living and so I shall give You the ‘reins’ to get me through this.”  God’s Spirit is behind His Word, ministering comfort, strength, newness.  From hopelessness and death to renewed hope and joy, He gave me life, indeed!

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