His Merciful Grace
Irene Chua – Singapore
COMING TO THE LORD
In 1996, I had a gut feeling that I should take my mother to visit her eldest son in China. Something also told me that it would be her last trip. My mother was not well throughout her stay.
After spending half a month in Swatow, her hometown, we came back to Singapore. The next day, I had to rush her to the Singapore General Hospital because she felt very weak.
The doctor decided that she needed to be hospitalized after some tests. On that particular day, though, the hospital was full and could not take her in. I checked with another hospital and was told they had no available beds either.
There was a third hospital which could accommodate her, and they even had a geriatric ward. I wasn’t keen on sending my mother there, but her condition at that time left me with no choice.
During her stay in this hospital, my mother was put through so many tests she nearly died. But God showed us His merciful grace.
One of the tests was a colonoscopy. I was not aware that she had to fast for one full day before this test. Anyway, a barium enema was inserted into her anus to remove the feces from her large intestine.
My mother, already weak and small in stature, could not stop purging for two days after the colonoscopy. In fact, she went into a state of shock and could not even sit up by herself.
In that extremely weakened state, she prayed to Jesus, saying, “Jesus, I am Irene’s mother. Although I pray to idols, she believes in You. If You allow me to sit up, I will go to church and worship You.”
The next day, my mother was able to sit up by herself unaided! When the ministers of the church came to visit her, she told them about her prayer. They, in turn, told me about her prayer, and I was full of joy and excitement.
After her discharge from the hospital, my mother joined me in worship at church.
The Power of “Hallelujah”
In 1997, tuberculosis (TB) scars were found in my mother’s lungs. My father had died from pulmonary tuberculosis in the early 1960s. According to the doctor, my mother had been infected but the virus remained in the Window Phase.1
So when my mother’s health deteriorated, the virus resurfaced. I resigned from my job to care of her. After two rounds of medication, my mother recovered. Thank God, during this period, my mother learned to put in a lot of effort to pray whenever she felt unwell.
Although TB is highly infectious, God protected me and gave me good health throughout the whole year I spent looking after her.
Later, I took on part-time work. One day while at work, I received a call from my mother. She had had a fall. Amazingly, there was not a single scratch or bruise on her!
My mother said that when she fell backwards on the toilet, she felt a pair of arms supporting her. These arms then gently put her down on the floor.
After this experience, my mother decided that she would get baptized and, on June 29, 1997, she received God’s cleansing grace.
Throughout that year, my mother was in and out of the hospital for various ailments. Shortly after her baptism, my mother suffered a mild stroke. Praise the Lord, she recovered within six months and was able to continue to join me in church to worship God.
However, before my mother could build up her faith, she was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. The disease robbed her of all her bodily functions. By 1998, my mother became completely bedridden.
Since my mother’s bout of tuberculosis and other ailments that followed, we often prayed together. Through these frequent prayer sessions, the word “Hallelujah” had become deeply instilled in her.
Even today, as difficult as it may be, she will utter the word “Hallelujah” whenever she is in pain and discomfort. Articulating “Hallelujah” may seem quite ordinary, especially for us long-time believers, but it is no small achievement for my mother.
She has not spoken a single word since she lost her ability to talk. So it always amazes and delights me to hear her say “Hallelujah”. It also never fails to smooth out the lines of pain and illness from her face.
Each night, whenever I look at her after a tiring day at work, her peaceful countenance speaks volumes of the grace of God.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The years from 1998 to 2003 were long and trying years, not just for my mother but for me, too. It was painful seeing her so weak and helpless. My heart was particularly burdened because my eighty-eight-year-old mother had not received the Holy Spirit.
As her condition deteriorated over the years, I grew more anxious. How would I know if she had received the Holy Spirit if she could not talk? It was with this torturous worry and heavy heart the morning of September 27, 2003 that I began my prayer with my mother, as was our normal morning routine.
My heart was heavily burdened as I held my mother’s hands. She was again in pain and it showed on her face. But no matter how piercing the pain, she couldn’t speak.
God showered His bounteous grace upon us again. Halfway through the prayer, I heard my mother speaking in spriritual tongue. Though short, it sounded light and musical—like someone playing the piano but infinitely more beautiful and melodious.
In fact, I had never heard such a heavenly tune before in my whole life! My joy knew no bounds. Indeed, I felt the way I did many years ago when I had received the Holy Spirit.
Our wonderful God had not only blessed my mother but also granted me my wish to witness for myself that she had received the Holy Spirit. He allowed me to experience and share in the joy of His blessing upon her.
TEACHINGS FROM THE LORD
My mother’s journey towards the Lord was also a journey of faith for me.
At the age of eighty, my mother could still climb four flights of stairs without panting. Slowly, with the onslaught of ailments, her healthy and sturdy body deteriorated into a pain-wrecked confinement.
I ached and grieved for her. It was a torment seeing her in so much discomfort but unable to do anything to lessen her pain. Sometimes, the helplessness was too much for me to bear.
My brothers, both non-believers, rebuked me for allowing my mother to be baptized. They even blamed her state of health on her baptism. They said, “If she had not become a Christian, none of this would have happened.”
Their words pierced like an arrow through my heart. Throughout my life, I had only one wish—for my mother and my siblings to come to know the Lord Jesus. Their hurtful words left me wondering where I had gone wrong.
I would be in denial if I claimed that I had remained strong and positive throughout my mother’s sickness. Actually, I went through a stage of deep depression.
Letting God Bear My Burdens
During the first few years of her ailments, I hardly had an hour’s sleep each night. I would have to get up every five to ten minutes to attend to her as she moaned and groaned in pain and discomfort all through the night.
There was once, in the first year that she was bedridden, when everything just became too much for me to handle. Exhausted by the lack of sleep and her endless groans and moans, I snapped.
I opened the sliding window, intending to throw both of us down from our apartment building. My mind was in turmoil.
Over and over, these words throbbed and echoed in my numbed brain: “Die, and you will be free from all sleepless nights. Even if you don’t die from the fall, your mother will. The worst for you is that you will be paralyzed. But you will be free, FREE!”
I stood by the window for almost half an hour. Somehow, just as I was about to pull her out of bed, I came to my senses. How could I even have thought about suicide?
I really thank God for His intervention. I dread to think of the consequences had God not intervened at that moment.
I had a good cry and resolved then that I would not carry the burden by myself anymore. The Lord Jesus was there for me so I should let Him help me carry the burden.
From then on, whenever my mother hyperventilated, I would sing hymns to her. Marvelously, not only did the hymns soothe her, they also comforted and reassured me that God is always there for me.
More Support Than I Could Have Expected
Another lesson for me was the lesson of brotherly love. Brothers and sisters in church often asked about my mother’s wellbeing. “How is she?” “Is she better?” But they did not ask about me.
Hardly anyone asked, “How are you feeling?” “Are you coping well?” I was a bit hurt. I was also suffering and I also needed some concern, too. But after a while, I realized that, to them, if my mother was well, then I would be at peace and be well, too.
Slowly, my resentment melted.
The Lord further helped to heal my family relationships. My brothers no longer blame me for the plight that my mother is in. They have seen with their own eyes the love that the church has given to both my mother and me.
They have also witnessed for themselves my mother’s peaceful countenance, although she is usually asleep whenever they visit her.
The Lord’s merciful grace to me extended even to finance. Although my brothers contribute whatever they can to meet my mother’s medical expenses each month, the financial burden is still quite substantial.
During the initial years of her sickness, a member would, through the minister, pass me funds for my mother’s medical bills. Then, about four years ago, a church sister who knew that I was in need of money contributed two thousand dollars for my mother.
Another sister whom I hardly knew at that time, after finding out that my mother had suffered a stroke, offered and took care of our monthly expenses for six months.
This came up to quite a tidy sum. I really thank God for His provision and their love. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all these brothers and sisters for their prayers and concern, as well as their joy when they heard that my mother had received the Holy Spirit.
More than anything, I learned to do things by His will and not my own.
Seeing my mother in pain, I used to plead with God to take her home to the heavenly kingdom so that she would not continue to suffer.
Though my intention was good, it did not occur to me that I was actually praying out of my own selfishness and not waiting for God’s will to be done until a sermon awakened me to my folly. Immediately, I asked the Lord for forgiveness.
Though everyday is a struggle and my mother is consistently down with pneumonia, I have learned to be grateful for each additional day that God gives her.
Indeed, I have enjoyed the great privilege of witnessing the miracle of my elderly mother receiving God’s saving grace and the Holy Spirit.
Truly, God has shown me that He always has a good purpose for allowing us to be in each situation (Rom 8:28). He has also taught me that that there is a time for everything (Eccl 3:1-8).
He will always abide with us in His merciful grace.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6, 7)
All praise and glory to God. Amen.
Editor’s note: True filial piety finds it strength in God’s love, and this testimony is a wonderful example of both His love and our love for our parents. Though Sis Irene’s mother was in great physical pain, she was still able to rejoice in the Lord. She rested peacefully in the Lord on April 18, 2005.