Will the Life We Live Matter for Eternity?

resting in heaven

It was my mother’s birthday, but there was an empty seat at the dinner table next to her. My father should be here celebrating with us. But he was not.

He had gone home to be with the Lord on 28 December 2021.

I remember my last Lunar New Year with daddy. He had made an odd request—he asked me to register him for a course called “How to prepare for the last day of your life.”

I didn’t sense anything different about him at the time, as he was a learned man who was always curious to learn something new in life.

After he completed the course, he told me: “Theoretically, it sounds easy. Death is just stepping into another dimension in your life. However, practically it truly needs courage and faith.”

I didn’t think much about this then. Little did we know that he would be facing this issue within a few short months.

COVID-19 strikes

At the peak of the pandemic in August 2021, when cases breached the 22,000 mark, I was truly worried about my elderly parents. I kept reminding daddy to always keep his mask on and not to travel to hot spots.

But as he approached his 80th birthday, he decided to purchase a new watch at a mall nearby. It was a symbolic reminder to him that he had successfully crossed 80 years.

A day after his birthday, he felt itchiness in his throat. He told me that he wanted some medication. So on 25 August, we went to the clinic. The doctor advised us to take a swab test. My dad smiled and said: “Don’t worry, I don’t have COVID-19.” But deep in my heart, I didn’t want to take the chance because both my parents were over 80 years old. So I arranged for both of my parents to take a 15-minute swab test.

I was shocked that both of their PCR test results turned out to be positive!

Over the next few months, my daddy’s response to the disease would remind me about how important it is to build a foundation in our life that would prepare us to face death and eternity.

FAITH in the Lord

I prayed fervently for my parents to overcome the disease, but my dad was admitted to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre on the fourth day of his COVID infection. We recited Psalm 91, claiming its promise for my entire family, and took Holy Communion together during the 14 days of his admission.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
 will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
 my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
 from the fowler’s snare
 and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
 and under his wings you will find refuge;
 his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
 nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
 nor the plague that destroys at midday.

(Psalm 91:1-6)

Despite being a victim of COVID, my daddy kept an optimistic mindset and remained strong for the rest of us. He kept comforting my mum, telling her, “Don’t worry, we won’t be the next victims of COVID.” During the first week, he was admitted to UMMC hospital, his condition was not stable, and he needed oxygen support. Nevertheless, during our video call with him, he still keeps proclaiming the Lord is all-powerful and able to heal him completely.

Praise God that he was released from the hospital after two weeks. We thought that everything would be fine and he would be on the path to recovery. But he still had to face more consequences of being COVID-positive.

HOPE in the Lord

On 2 October, he was admitted to Sunway Medical Centre. This time it was because of pneumonia, due to a bacterial infection of his lungs. After being treated with antibiotics, his CRP level was not able to be reduced to the normal range due to the infections.

After he healed from pneumonia, the bacteria klebsiella spread to the aortic valve and caused a serious infection.

Despite all his suffering, he never said once that “I am going to die soon”. He always carried the hope that he would be released from the hospital soon. While in IJN, he would have video calls with his old friends, saying, “Don’t worry, after my heart surgery, I will organize a reunion gathering with all of you.”

But Dr. Wong had some shocking news for daddy—there would be no chance for him to undergo surgery because of the unprecedented risk due to his age and medical condition.

Despite the bad news, he still has the hope to explore alternative medicine rather than giving up. He called me and said, “Daughter, I believe we can explore alternative medicine.” I thought: how do you expect to treat bacterial infection of the aorta with Traditional Chinese Medicine? I was crying in excruciating pain in my heart—it was near impossible!

LOVE in the Lord

During his stay in the hospital, daddy still showed care and concern for those around him.

Instead of feeling pity for himself, he encouraged everyone to keep praying to the Almighty to seek his peace, wisdom, and grace.

And despite his weakened condition, he insisted that we arrange for a day’s discharge so that he could settle some important issues for the family. He did this out of his sacrificial love for the family—he was willing to suffer the difficulty rather than leave the family hanging.

Throughout his life, he had always demonstrated the Lord’s love. He was someone who never said “no” whenever he saw that someone needed help. Whenever a friend was admitted into the hospital, he would be the first one to visit and see what support he could offer. He would often visit just to pray for them.

Just one month before he caught COVID, he asked me to send food and medicine to my cousin’s house as his whole family was infected with COVID. That is the power of the love of God unleashing faith in his lives instead of fear.

A life founded on faith

During this challenging time, daddy had never once complained that God was false. In fact, he always declared: “He is the greatest of all as He is the sovereign and mighty Lord” during his prayers in the hospital.

Daddy was a person who always trusted in the Lord, from the biggest things to the smallest.

I remember a time when he was preparing a submission to the annual Chinese writing competition a few years ago. He had printed out his draft and was on his way to meet his friend at Petaling Jaya. As he was driving, he suddenly recalled that he had left his draft on the top of his car!

By that time, he had already driven for more than 10km! The problem was that he only had a printed copy and didn’t keep a soft copy.

He cried to God, “Please help me collect all my draft papers!” Immediately, he stopped his car near the KWSP building in Petaling Jaya. When he got out of his car, he saw papers scattered on the road a few hundred meters away from where he had stopped.

Miraculously, the entire draft was there when he gathered them all up! God had honored his prayer of simple faith.

I believe that this faith is what sustained him until the end.

It enabled him to live a life of faith, hope, and love. It also enabled him to face his slow demise over the space of months with faith, hope, and love.

Will the life we live matter for eternity?

CS Lewis said, “the present is the point at which time touches eternity; so are we living in the span of eternity!”

So the life we live today does matter for eternity. But in what way will it matter?

This is a question we don’t often ponder. But when we are faced with serious life issues like death, this question will surely pop up: What is next after we transition from this life? Are we living in a way that will matter for the span of eternity?

As Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26a)

My daddy’s example of faith has left a LEGACY to all his beloved daughters and extended families. My father’s sacrificial lifestyle has impacted my sister and me to serve in the mission field for several years.

On the day of his funeral, I saw a vision of him cycling happily in a beautiful garden, at a place where there is no weeping but only full of joy. I am fully assured that he is enjoying the paradise of eternal, abundant life with God! And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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