Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sadness is essentially about resignation.

"Sadness in its purest form is essentially about resignation." 

And Pastor Davy Sim had every reason to do just that, that is, resign to life and give up. But he chose otherwise. He fought back, not just the tears, the pain and the disbelief, but he fought for life, memories and hope. 

His son, Benjamin, only 16, will be cremated today at Mandai Crematorium. The younger of his two sons had been the source of joy for him. 

Pastor Davy Sim said that he was the livewire of the family.

On Tuesday, Benjamin was running to improve on his 2.4m timing when he collapsed after the run and passed away in the hospital. 

Pastor Davy Sim lamented: "This week has been overwhelming. Seeing my son in the casket, it is beyond words." 

Yet, despite the grief, he solemnised a couple's wedding on the same day. He did it as a duty to the couple, and to his call as a minister - in good or bad times. 

What compounded the irony is that Pastor Davy Sim was also a grief counsellor. That is, he comforted those who too lost a loved one. 

And these poignant words captured the pain even more:-

"I lecture people about stage 1, stage 2 and now it's my turn...because this is my flesh and blood, I grieve inside. It teaches me about loss. Now, I can tell people I actually lost a son and it's too much to bear. I'd rather die, I'd rather be in that casket. Every parent wants to go first."

Lesson? Just one,

I once told my children deadpan that I was prepared to die for them. 

But words are just words. No doubt it remains a vow of love to them, but living through the numbing reality of grief is a whole different dimension of experience altogether from merely mouthing the words out. 

The raw truth is that as a Christian, death (when it happens to you) is a very difficult reality to accept - to put it mildly. 

More so if you are a servant of God, giving your life selflessly as a pastor for decades, taking care and nurturing the people He has entrusted you with. 

The natural mind would expect this unspoken earthly bargain with omnipotence: "Lord, I serve your people, please protect mine." 

But the Kingdom principle does not work the way the world operates in quid pro quo fashion. Favors in kind may not be returned with favors divine. 

Doing for God, serving Him, is not about keeping scores, tallying the social merits table, and calling in a solid from God when imminent death knocks on the mortal shell of a loved one. 

Indeed, it's far easier to offer oneself to be taken than to allow a loved one, especially one so young and has so much life ahead, to be taken. 

If giving our life to the calling is such that we secretly expect prosperity and blessing and protection from the one who calls us, then it is not a service anymore. It is a transaction. And more relevantly, it will never be transforming. It is mere convenience. 

Personally, the strongest, most effective minister I know are those who readily serve with the scars of experience they quietly and gladly bear because they have been there, that is, the darkest hour just before dawn, and they never gave up - neither their faith, their service nor their love. 

When my father-in-law threw his body without care on his son's casket and wept uncontrollably just before we move on for the cremation last October, I witnessed not a defeated father, but a wounded and stronger man. I also witnessed true, unconditional love expressed at the worst of times. 

That image was not an epitome of hopelessness, but resilience. It was not an image of resignation, but determination, to live life to treasure and nurture the bonds, to fight on with hope, and to never keep scores with God. 

I guess love is not just about overcoming, but becoming, as we move forward and grow through the uncharted journey of grief, pain and sorrow, and then become the person we thought we will never become because we'd never expected that such tragedy could ever happen so close to home. 

Thus, after the overwhelming, comes the overcoming, and then the eventual becoming, in anticipation of one's homecoming, that is, a celebration of that longed-after tearful reunion. 

Alas, God always makes room for us to be human, that is, to live our life despite the sorrow, hurts and grief, and to become human means to have a heart of compelling love, never weary in doing good, while walking on clay feet that readily prepare us for the trials that await. 

So, people like Pastor Davy Sim and my father-in-law (Pastor Clarence) have taught me that a loved one is like a fire over some twigs and branches. The glow he or she produces keeps the heart warm and hopeful whenever we draw near to them.

As fathers, the fear is that one day, the fire of our loved ones may just go off. And it eventually will. 

But for now, we keep it alive by gently blowing on it to increase the glow, to deepen the bond, and to draw strength from each other to face the world. 

Truthfully, we will never know when that day will come, but the one thing that death can never take from us is the hope, warmth and glow our loved ones leave behind in our hearts when their fire burns out. They will be the resilience that grow and move us forward when they are gone. 

As Pastor Davy Sim told one of his members at the wake, "Love your son. Love him unconditionally." That, I will. Thank you. Amen. Cheerz.

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