During the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew of many people who had lost loved ones or at least knew someone who had lost a loved one. There were also many rules and regulations that we all had to obey. But somehow, despite all of the things that the pandemic brought, it didn’t really feel like my life was affected that much.
That all changed one day when I received the news that my aunt had passed away from COVID-19. I felt very emotional about her death and visited my grandmother to tell her how sorry I was that she had lost her daughter. She told me that my aunt had been ill for a long time before she got the virus and that she had been ready to die. My grandmother also mentioned that my aunt was a believer and wanted Jesus to be honoured at her funeral.
That got me thinking: If I became seriously ill and was told by a doctor that I was about to die, how would I want my funeral to be? What would I like people to say about me? Of course, people would say some good things. I have seen that even at the funerals of people who were not very well liked, something good was found to say about them.
When I thought about my life, I could think of some good things that could probably be said at my funeral… For example, how good I was to my little sisters when I was young, that I always went to the church services, how much I cared for the weak and helped them, and so on.
I was suddenly filled with such a terrible feeling of panic and emptiness – I would hate an empty funeral like that! The verse in Isaiah 64:6 (GNT) came to me: “All of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through.” And then the feeling of panic was replaced by a real seriousness as I thought of the incredible miracles that God had done and was still doing in me.
God truly has created something new in me. This terrible person who couldn’t even give someone a cup of water without expecting to be thanked for it, who always wanted to be seen when doing something good, always wanting to be honoured. In His mercy and love God started to show me all these things so that my good works started to look filthy through and through. I began to get a longing to see more of myself and felt a hatred for the evil in me that He showed me during my daily circumstances.
I was someone who had no faith that I could overcome irritation and anger, but now God has given me the faith that it is possible to overcome these sins. He has given me His Spirit so that I know what to pray for. He has sent situations to test my faith, and a tested faith is far more valuable than all the gold on earth. He has already given me His Kingdom while I am still on this earth. My treasures are stored in heaven where God and Jesus are, and where no one can come and steal them from me.
Yes, my funeral could actually be full of content that could help others. It would not be about me, but about the God of wonders, who has created something new in me – something that would have been humanly impossible. To overcome sin - to always resist the sin that comes up when I am tempted from my human nature - is the most important thing on earth to me.
Paul writes in Galatians 6:15 (CEV), “It doesn't matter if you are circumcised or not. All that matters is that you are a new person.” I thank and praise God for the work He has done in me to make me into a new person. I want nothing more in this world than for God to keep working in me. It is the only thing that has eternal value, and the great thing is that it’s perfectly possible!