My grandmother recently passed away. She died Sunday, March 11, of this year after a battle with amiodarone toxicity. We were all under the impression that she was getting better and that it would just be a slow recovery. Unfortunately, though, as the doctor on staff the day she passed put it “her heart was simply wore out from fighting the lung condition caused by the amiodarone toxicity.” Her heart failed, and they tried to resuscitate her several times, but to no avail.
This isn’t my first time losing a loved one. I lost my grandfather (her husband) to lung cancer years ago when I was just a young teen. However, I was younger then, and I suppose youth helped me deal with the loss better. I mourned and still miss him greatly, but it has been doubly hard with my grandmother’s passing. Of course, I have known her twice as long now, and she has been there with me through everything, never giving up on me even throughout all my troubled, rebellious times.
I officially accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on December 3, 2014, when I was 26 years old. I know not everyone knows the date of their salvation, and that is perfectly okay. I wrote mine down in the Bible that Dad bought me that very day. I already had numerous Bibles, of course, being raised in a Christian home throughout my childhood. However, Dad wanted to buy me that cute little pink one since he knew it was my favorite color and to mark my special day. It’s actually a teen Bible, I believe, but there’s a neat little spot inside it where you can write down the date of your salvation, and I did that. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I like knowing my date, so I’m glad that he bought me that.
I had thought I was saved once before when I was 8 years old, but I know now that I was not. My dad was a pastor of a church during my teenage years, and I resented anything having to do with church. I attended church, but I was not happy doing so. I really wanted nothing to do with anything pertaining to God. I didn’t want to hear Gospel music and very rarely read the Bible. I became a master at tuning out the sermons and fought against feelings of conviction, convincing myself that I was already saved. When I was 8, I was too young to understand true conviction and was just a young girl trying to please her parents and church.
Since I’ve been grown, I’ve done many things I’m not proud of and that go against everything I was taught in a Christian home. I broke my family’s hearts, and while I didn’t do what I did to hurt them and felt somewhat bad for my actions when confronted by them, I didn’t really care enough. I was selfish and did what I wanted to do.
When I hit rock bottom is when I finally turned to God on the aforementioned date. I had to go through many troubled times to give in to His call. I am stubborn, but I am so grateful that God never gave up on me. Even in my darkest hours, He was always there. The first thing I would do when something bad happened to me would be to cry out to Him for help. It came as an instinct – His name. When something truly horrible happened and I couldn’t even think, laying on the floor in pain, all that was in my head was God, help me, so I think deep down I’ve always believed in Him even if I didn’t want to accept Him. In fact, I think everyone knows deep down that there is a God because when you are truly, truly faced with the possibility of death (like you think you are going to die), that is where your mind goes. At least it was for me. I didn’t think. It came instantly, which further proves to me that God is real.
Since I accepted Him, I have still made many mistakes. However, now when I make mistakes, the guilt is so much worse than it was before. I in no way live perfect, but I do strive to be a better Christian. I can now read the Bible and listen to songs and praises about God without feeling anger or discomfort. I actually want to know more about Him and yearn to learn. Others, especially family members, say that they could tell the difference in me even before I told them I was saved, so I know that I really was saved this time around.
However, with the passing of my grandmother, I became vulnerable. My defenses were down because my heart was broken. I had prayed so hard for her to recover from her illness, and many in the community had as well. Many of my online friends who didn’t even know her personally prayed for her. It was encouraging. I was convinced that God would answer our prayers, so when she passed, I was initially shocked and then very angry. Looking back now I can see the signs of how He’d been trying to prepare me for the eventuality of her passing, but I didn’t want to believe it. I was scared and worried about her and cried a lot during those weeks of her illness, but it was still a shock when it happened.
It’s not even been a full week that she’s been gone, but it seems so much longer spiritually because of the spiritual battle I’ve been having with myself. My entire faith was shaken. I began to doubt whether I was even really saved or not since I was doubting whether prayer worked. I kept thinking about how I was wrong about being saved when I was younger. My mind kept telling me, You were wrong before. Maybe you’re wrong again. Surely if you are really saved, you wouldn’t be feeling this way. You wouldn’t have any doubts – even for a moment. You’re not really a saved Christian. You don’t really even believe in God. This is all there is. I should be confident that my grandma is in Heaven with Jesus. I shouldn’t question whether there is even a God or anything after this life if I was truly saved. These thoughts tormented me, and I am deeply ashamed that I even had them now.
However, God sent someone to me before my grandmother ever passed to give me a message that he knew I would need during this time. She told me that she was praying for my grandmother but that when she prayed, she prayed for healing, and she explained to me that God WOULD answer our prayers – that she was confident of that. However, she said that she didn’t know how He would do it. She said that He would either do so in her current body or by giving her a new one. In other words, He would heal her earthly body and allow her more time with us here on Earth, or He would give her the ultimate healing and take her on to Heaven where she would be healed eternally and in no pain ever again.
Of course, I wanted to believe that He would give her more time here, so I tried to be more specific with my prayer, praying that He would heal her body on this earth. When I finally calmed down some, God reminded me of what this lady had told me, and then I was also reminded that God answers our prayers if they are in accordance with His will too. I thought that I could coerce God into answering my prayer by being more specific with my wording, but He still answered it while staying within His will because her body on Earth is technically healed. One of the definitions of heal is to “alleviate a person’s distress or anguish,” which He did. Her body is no longer in distress or anguish.
Yet, still these doubts continued to nag at me. If I am doubting God, how can I be saved? I must remember how I am different now than I was before December 3, 2014. How I care more, feel guilty more when I do something wrong. Part of my struggle is that I do not hear a voice like some people say they do. I do not have visions. God does not speak to me that way. It’s more like little thoughts or feelings that I get that won’t go away, but then Satan wars with me and tries to tell me that I am crazy and that these are my own thoughts that I’ve conjured up in my mind – that it’s not really God telling me anything, that it’s what I want to believe.
But then…I thought and thought about it this morning and realized that that can’t be true because many times the thoughts and feelings I have are NOT want I want to hear. Sometimes I really, really want to do certain things and feel like I shouldn’t, so I wouldn’t be conjuring that up myself if I really wanted to do them. That is God warning me not to do them, and when I think back on those times when I didn’t heed those warnings, I can recall all the bad things that came from them.
Then I listened to a song this morning that really hit me hard and I think was God’s way of reassuring me and helping me understand that I am indeed saved and to not doubt it anymore – that those doubts are simply the enemy trying to bring me down and pull me away while I am weakened. The song is called The Blood is Still There. I heard it many times at church over the years growing up, but it’s been years since I’ve heard it (probably at least a decade), and it never struck me this way before. The lyrics that spoke to me are the following:
Looking over all the damage Satan’s storm had left behind
The flood of endless questions and doubts had filled my mind
And the fear that gripped my troubled soul brought me back to my knees in prayer,
Crying, “Father, will you please look and see if the Blood is still there?”
It suddenly made sense to me that even saved Christians can have doubts. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t really saved. They just need reassure from time to time, and Jesus’s blood is that reassurance. The song goes on to say the following, which is God’s answer:
Son, now don’t you worry, for the blood is there to stay
The winds may blow, and the rains may fall, but it won’t just wash away.
The blood will stand the raging storm, it’s been applied with loving care
Safe, secure, you can rest assured that the blood is still there.
I suddenly thought, Once we’re saved, we’re saved. The doubts are simply planted there because the enemy wants to torment us and pull us away, especially when he sees us praying more and trying to draw closer like I have been doing recently.
I am no preacher, nor do I attempt to be. I am simply giving my testimony of my experience with the struggles and doubts that can come to haunt Christians after a loved one passes. And while I am a writer, I struggle to put all this into words. It is extremely difficult for me to express these experiences to the fullest.
Below is the song that helped remind me that as long as we truly believe in Jesus and repent of our sins that is all it takes to be saved. He paid the price for us, and we just have to accept it and push all the doubts from our mind, which is sometimes hard to do for someone like me who has so many questions and wants to rationalize everything into a form that makes sense.
I hope this helps someone else out there, and please pray for me and my family – that we can stay strong and keep the faith. I can now confidently say that I know deep in my heart that my grandmother, grandfather and other loved ones who’ve passed are in Heaven and that I WILL see them again one day.
If you have any experiences of how God speaks to you or lets you know things, please share them with me. It would be comforting to hear how others have struggled with doubts about God, especially after they’ve been saved.