By Adeyinka Shittu
Grandfather passed on Good Friday.
I remember it as clearly as a lover’s last words. I was dressed for choir rehearsals and all I needed was 10 extra minutes (and a clean pair of socks).
As I unplugged my phone and grabbed my notepad, I got ‘the’ text.
“Yinka, come home as soon as you can. Your grandfather passed this morning.”
Asides seeing that my father was the one who sent the message, all I remember is my shocked self falling to the ground like a wet rag and crying like a stupid baby.
Grandfather had a dozen grandchildren, a home in Asaba and a chieftaincy title. Even if he didn’t want death, he was old enough not to refuse it.
However, when Sola (my every service seat partner) passed, my watertight defenses broke.
How could a good God take one so young, one so sold out to the cause of Christ? If he gives and takes away, why does he not take evil out of the world and give long life to those who deserve it?
Grandfather is dead. So is Mrs DaSilva, the neighbor who spent her entire lifetime reminding people to smile. So is Mr Ndukwo….
It seems to be a season of deaths. I’ve been holding off admitting this to myself for too long. So many things around me are either dead or dying.
I write about how God is an artist who makes tragedy into art yet in my own life, all I see is lots of darkness and not much art.
How can this be? How can a possessor of eternal life be surrounded by death and loss and grief?
Where did I get it wrong?
Blessed be the name of the Lord
He gives and takes away
He gives AND takes away
My heart will choose to say
Blessed be the glorious Name
– Matt Redman
The deaths don’t make sense yet. Someday, they might but there’s the possibility they won’t.
We won’t always have simple answers to the questions of life. Its a truth we must constantly remind ourselves.
God does not promise answers. He promises to give us His presence. He does not promise us a smooth journey but he assures us that we will never be alone.
What then do we do when we have asked the storm to cease but it still rages? What do we say when we have said ‘Amen’ but it’s still raining?
You see, we have choices.
We can call God unfaithful and shake our tiny fists at the heavens or we can rest knowing that no matter how hard or how far we fall, grace is the mighty hand of God that catches us every time.
We can call death an enemy or we can call it the instrument that brings us closer to eternal life.
We can call our failings the bad and our faults the ugly or we can; like the Author of Life name all things ‘good’.
We can behold the loose ends and the untied knots and the figures that don’t add up and proclaim along with Hillsong that ‘It makes no sense but this is grace.’
When you are faced with a ‘Job experience’, (perhaps a boyfriend who walked away or a business that didn’t go your way) instead of crying and sulking or blaming God, name the problem ‘grace’.
The one that gives his life never loses it. The one that names all things grace never lacks it.
Romans 8:27-28 MSG
He (The Holy Spirit) knows us far better than we know ourselves…That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives (of love for God) is worked into something good.
There have been deaths and there will be deaths. I’m not going to pretend everything is fine but I’m going to believe everything will be fine eventually. I’m not going to hide my grief behind a smile or my pain behind alcohol.
I choose to plant the flower of gratitude in this garden of brokenness watered by tears.
Until the sunlight comes bursting through the night, in my darkness, I know that God is working something beautiful from these losses. He is waiting to be gracious so I will name all things grace.
Here in the desert where this grief abounds and comfort seems small, I choose to sing thankfulness as my desert song. I choose the ‘chara’ in ‘eucharisteo’, the joy present in thanksgiving. I choose shalom, the inexplicable kind of peace.
I choose to name the gory, the bloody, the ugly and the terrible ‘GRACE’.
Because where it is good, bad or ugly, it’s all working together. Its all grace. The gifts and the grief, I must be quick to recognize that they are unmerited and underserved things like grace.
Good, bad, ugly. All is grace.
All is grace.
Adeyinka Shittu is the current president of an imaginary world where there are no people, only books. When he isn’t obsessing about grace, irritating humanity or looking for his glasses, he writes at adeyinkashittu.wordpress.com
Queen’s Note: I love Yinka! He is a total package of awesome and crazy at the same time and I couldn’t resist dragging him down here!
It’ s good to have you here dude!