Way back when this blog started in 2011, my beloved “Granddaddy” had just begun a heart-wrenching decline in health, and by God’s grace and provision, I had this platform as an outlet to constantly ask myself what He was doing through the pain and confusion. Post after post after post, with every hurdle that came about, I would come to my computer and write — tears falling, mind racing. There was so much I couldn’t understand, but putting these thoughts in a public forum constantly forced me to look for God’s purpose.
Eight years later, and my grandparents have faithfully taken on the immense pain of brain dementia and the emotional toll that comes with it, and they’ve pointed us back to God time and time again. And this past Friday, March 15, my Granddaddy went home to be with Jesus.
As I sit here truly relieved and glad that his suffering has finally come to an end after all of these years, my heart grieves knowing that I’ll never get to see him again this side of Heaven. I find myself reminiscing in the most bittersweet way of my life with him growing up: how he could always make me laugh; the way he loved my Grandma (and she loved him) in the most genuine, God-honoring way; his passion for life and the way he taught me through his actions that we never need anything more than what God has granted us for today. I think about my mom, who just lost her dad. I think about my Grandma, who just lost her husband of 50+ years. And a lump the size of my fist sits in my throat as I try to ask myself how I could ever handle a pain like that. So many moments pulse through my mind, and that has brought me back here: to try my best to make sense of it all, and close the chapter with a final word on what God has done through this man’s life.
Because God’s timing is perfect, I am in the middle of a study on the book of Job. For those of you who may not be familiar with this book of the Bible, the overview is this: Job is a faithful servant of God, honoring Him in all that he does, and he is immensely blessed with good health and a home filled with a family that he loves. Satan claims to God that Job is only faithful to Him because God has given Job all that he could want in this life, and if Job lost these blessings, he would no longer desire to follow God. And to be honest, I still struggle to understand what happens next, but I know that it’s because my human mind can’t always understand what God is doing: God tells Satan (with a few ground rules) that he is welcome to test Job, because God knows his servant will remain faithful. And then: poor Job is struck down in every way possible. He loses his home, his money, his entire family aside from his wife is killed in one instance, and the list goes on. He continues to honor the Lord, and to test him further, Job falls incredibly ill, with open wounds inflicting his entire body. All of the people left in his life are essentially pushing him away from God, including his wife, who asks him: “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9), to which Job responds:
“Should we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)
Wow. After all of that, Job basically says, “I’ve received so many wonderful things from God, but I don’t love Him because He gives me good things. I love Him because He is God.” …and never in my life have I read something that reminded me so much of my Granddaddy.
We had the chance to celebrate my granddad’s life this past Sunday, and what an incredible tribute to all that he had done. In a room filled with people who loved him — fellow pastors, former members of his congregation, extended family, and the list goes on and on — I was moved to tears multiple times, but I also felt a peace and joy in my heart as we reflected back on what this man’s life looked like, and held tight to the promise that he is made new again in Heaven.
I had the privilege of joining several of my family members to say a few words about Granddaddy at his funeral, and I told this story about Job and what it is teaching me as I process the loss of my grandfather. The writer in me said ‘yes’ almost immediately when I was offered the opportunity to speak, but I became increasingly more scared as I thought about the probability of breaking down mid-speech in front of a room full of people. And during visitation, a beautiful slideshow filled with photos of my granddad all throughout his life played on repeat: bright, vivid memories that brought me back to the character and joy and liveliness that he had, and the emotional pressure continued to grow.
By the grace of God, I remembered that this was an opportunity I was given to testify to God’s power and might. To remind so many people sitting in that room that, as my aunt so gracefully articulated that day, we are “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) — and we will continue to tell the truth of the Gospel, just as Granddaddy would have wanted it.
Romans 8:18 says that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” And wow, I can’t even imagine the glory that has been revealed in a man as wonderful as my grandfather now that he is with Jesus. So I’m going to end this with what I know he’d want you to take away from all of this (and trust me, he’d be just as long-winded about it as I have been with this 1000+ word post): Christ died so that you might have eternal life, free from the bondage of sin. Don’t settle for believing anything less than that in your life. By His wounds, we are healed.
This one’s for you, Granddaddy.