By Alex Florez
Shortly before she died, my mother was described by one of her closest friends as “the biggest atheist” he’d ever known. I’m not sure if she was a true atheist committed to the idea that there was, unequivocally, “no God.” But I know this much: if she believed there was a God, she was not shy about airing her grievances.
When I think of my mom’s history, I picture her living in darkness amongst the tombs, being chained like a frightened animal by her circumstances, relegating herself to abject isolation. If I were to expand on the details of my mother’s life, you would see very quickly that these metaphors—tombs, chains, and exile— illustrate quite accurately the conditions under which she existed. She suffered endlessly, and I witnessed her anguish firsthand.
Desperate to help but hopeless that she would listen, I would submit the gospel for her consideration. Through face-to-face conversations, phone calls, emails, and texts, I pleaded with her to give Jesus a chance.
But for more than twenty years, her response to the viability of a relationship with Jesus was dismissive at best and rancorous at worst. Her discourse with God went like this: “Get away from me, and stop torturing me!”
My mother, when considering the existence of God, held fast to resentment, fury, and blame.
As painful as it is to reflect on the years of suffering my mother endured, I am overjoyed at the conclusion of her story. When she hit rock bottom for the thousandth time and finally realized that she could neither fix herself nor arrange for more tolerable circumstances, she came trembling before the feet of Jesus. When doctors, specialists, and therapists could not heal her of the maladies that afflicted her body, mind, heart, and soul, my mother reached out in desperation, hoping that her fingers might graze the garment of the Great Physician.
I wish it hadn’t taken so long or so much torment, but how much sweeter was the sound of my mother’s voice crying out to Jesus because of the years of misery! How much more did the heavenly host rejoice when one as hopeless as my mother surrendered to the healing hands of our Savior!
At the end of her life, just when I had lost hope that she could be saved, she came out from among the tombs and submitted herself to the same One she had rejected for so long. And, oh, what a Savior He is that He would so mercifully respond to this hapless creature, my mother. “‘Daughter,’ he said to her, ‘your faith has saved you. Go in peace’” (Luke 8:48).
When I watched her draw her last breath, I exhaled a lifetime’s worth of fear and desolation, knowing that Jesus had invited her to go in peace to the rest, healing, and consolation that she considered unattainable and that only He could provide.