The cancer is spreading rapidly. I have to find a way to fly back for a visit, to say goodbye.
We just lost Grandpa at the end of last year. His decline was slow, methodical and I was able to say goodbye the last time I was in the States, a full year before his death. Grandma had been so busy caring for him, then grieving for her husband, that she failed to notice the signs of disease spreading in her.
Mom coaxed her to get it checked. The doctors found a small tumor, easily removable. The surgery revealed an aggressive cancer, spanning itself around my grandma’s organs. Treatment plans were plotted out, family was called, and I pleaded with God for a way to get there.
Waiting for a Visa
The government of the Asian country where I live has been withholding our visa extension for 7 months. Our application is valid. We have followed every law, yet it seems our paperwork is lost in endless bureaucracy. So, I literally cannot leave. We need a visa not only to stay here with certainty, but also to leave the country (and enter my own).
A week after Grandma started radiation, I got a text from Mom, “Please pray, I think Grandma is dying.” I spoke on the phone later that night for the last time with her, this straight-forward confident woman now reduced to slurred stutters. She wants to stop treatment and to be put in hospice. The doctors are predicting a few weeks. I sobbed into my pillow continents away.
Two days later, a courier arrives at our door. He hands my husband’s visa with full permission to stay in (or leave) the country for another year! I am very Doubting Thomas about the whole thing; “Let me see that! You have got to go to the office now and ask if this is real.” It is real. And my dependent visa (and my children’s) will come in a week. The first thing we do is start checking flights. Maybe there is a way I can get to America to say goodbye.
Two more days later, Grandma passes away quietly in her sleep.
I did not receive my visa in time. Ironic is just not the word for it. I feel mocked. It feels like a cruel joke to let me come so close and yet not be able to return to the States. I shout at my husband, snap at my kids, and push away from God. Why would He let this happen? Why get my hopes up? Is God mocking me?
Just because the word was sticking with me, I looked up “mock” in my Bible concordance. There passages about prophets being mocked and then the prophets mocking right back. At Pentecost, the Apostles are mocked as drunkards. Paul was laughed at and called a fool. The early church “suffered mocking and flogging” (Hebrews 11:36).
But more than any other reference, the word “mocking” comes up in reference to Jesus, at the end of His life. He is spit on and beaten. He is derided with insults. People mock worship and praise Him in sarcasm. I read these passages and I’m heartbroken. My Savior mocked, beaten, falsely accused, murdered…for me. I see clearly, it is not God the Father mocking His Son. It’s people, Jews and Gentiles, leaders and the masses. God is Sovereign over the whole bloody trial. He is no doubt allowing all this to happen. He is watching Jesus be mocked. And He is watching in love.
This is where I start to realize the lie I have believed. God being in control of visas and deaths has not been much a faith issue for me. Of course He is in control! Yet, when I believe the lie that God is mocking me, sitting up in Heaven having a good laugh at my expense, I do not doubt His sovereignty.
I doubt His love.
I need the gospel to remind me of God’s love for me over and over. I need to see Jesus being mocked without stoicism or apathy, without despair or “getting into survivor mentality.” I need to see Jesus press on for the joy set before Him. And I need to remind myself that same joy is lovingly set before me—not at the end of this race as something to achieve—but here in the present. Here, thousands of miles from where I want to be. Now, days seemingly too late to say what I wanted to say. God is not mocking me. Yes, God is allowing it, but in a love that I cannot comprehend.
This government may continue to withhold our visas. We may suffer injustice as Christians here. We will face the broken and sinful world; and friends may taunt our hope. I will waver and fail. Yet, God will not mock us. He will be with us whatever the place, whenever the time, always sovereign and always loving us.
About the Author:
Mandy is part of a MTW church-planting team in a security-sensitive country. She reads good books, bakes comfort food, and home-schools three little girls. Her husband and daughters live in a sprawling, dirty, colorful city of over 10 million people.