Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Mourning and Missing Mom: Grieving With Hope

Last week I wrote a few of my memories of Mom (see Florence Gail Sanders: Remembering Mom). This is a follow-up post with more of what I said at her funeral:

I looked forward to day I would introduce Mare Cris to Mom. Scenes of their conversations would play out in my mind during casual daydreams.

I had every reason to believe what I was planning would come to pass. Mom did have health issues, but long life runs in our family (my maternal grandfather passed away at age 95, and her siblings have made it to their 80’s or 90’s). We will be in the States some time this year, so my dream seemed well within reach. Just a few more months and the two most important women in my life would meet.

I wept bitterly when I received the news of Mom’s death. Losing a parent without warning is painful enough. But the wound in my soul was deepened when I thought of my mother and wife never having the chance to meet in this life. My heart broke, and it still hasn’t fully healed.

I was drawn to the Book of Job as I grieved. God allow the enemy to take all Job’s wealth and children in one day. Here’s how he responded to the horrific news:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. 
–Job 1:20-21

Job did not attempt to hide his emotional agony—his shaved head and torn robe were common ways to publicly display grief. But he worshipped in the midst of his pain, and what he uttered is recorded in the 21st verse.

God spoke to me through this passage of Scripture. He reminded me that all of us come into this world with nothing, and every breath is a gift from Him. He doesn’t owe us anything—including more time. I was reminded to praise God and trust Him through the tears.

I also reflected on the way God has blessed my mom throughout her life. A few examples came to mind:

Mom was once rushed to the hospital due to a severe reaction to some of the medications she was taking (this was a few years after she had already gone through open-heart surgery).  She went into a comatose state and had to be put on a ventilator. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the doctors told my dad she only had about a 20% chance of recovering. My mom beat the odds by walking out of the hospital within a few weeks. This happened about 25 years ago—God graciously added over two decades to Mom’s life, and I was spared the pain of growing up without her.

Mom with her grandsons (Mother’s Day 2012)

Let’s fast-forward to this past year. Mom was deeply concerned about me being single, so she was very pleased to hear of my whirlwind romance and to “meet” Mare Cris. She chatted with her through Skype and saw the engagement ring I bought while I was home in December of 2011. The proposal happened in the first week of 2012, and Mom was the first to hear the news—she answered the phone when we called to announce our engagement.

Mom was also able to see the wedding video and talk to us every week. She was quick to show our picture to friends, family, and in some cases, complete strangers (especially if Mom and Dad happened to meet a Filipino). In other words, one of Mom’s dreams for me came true in her lifetime. This brought great peace and joy to her.

I’ll mention one of the final blessings God gave to my mom. She was able to celebrate this past Christmas as always, eating and exchanging gifts with the people she loved. God graciously gave her one final Christmas celebration before calling her home just a few days later.

I praise God when I reflect upon the way He blessed my mother throughout her life.

But there’s more, of course. My Mom placed her faith in Jesus Christ while she was still young. She trusted Him to forgive her of her sins and give her eternal life. The Scriptures are full of promises for those who have believed in the Gospel, and this one in particular stood out to me:

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 
-2nd Corinthians 5:1-4

My Mom now has an “eternal body”—one that will never get sick or weak, and most importantly, one that is suited for eternally enjoying the presence of God.

I am grieving. Writing this post, in fact, has brought tears to my eyes more than once. But I grieve with hope–I worship a God I can trust completely.

3 Comments

  1. Great Mom! There is no way we can contribute to heal your pain and sorrow at this moment but to pray that God will be with you and your family to give you strength, peace and comfort as the days go by.

  2. Very nice 🙂 God continue to comfort you Kevin.

  3. Kevin, I am blessed and encouraged that you KNOW God’s goodness, and see Truth in the midst of mourning. As a Sister in Christ you’ve never met, I feel odd saying this, but feel I can: I’m praising God that you are allowing yourself the right to mourn. I’m a missionary kid, as well as a missionary myself since adulthood. One of the hardest hurdles to overcome when my ministry became my own was the idea that missionaries aren’t allowed to grieve. What hogwash!
    Hold on to Elroi and the Comfort of all, Brother. Know that I’m praying from here.

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