BY JASON NAZZARO
Around 11am on May 13th, 2016 my mother and I were getting my father out of bed to go to the bathroom, and he was so weak that even with both of us under each of his arms, he collapsed. He was moaning, groaning, and screaming in pain. At this stage of the cancer being in his body, it had spread all over: it was in his bones, organs, everywhere. My father was in agony. Knowing his time on this earth was coming to an end, I was saying anything to try to get through to him, “Dad, I love you. I’m right here for you, Dad.” Nothing was getting through. He was delirious from the pain he was in and could not even recognize my voice or who I was, and there was not a thing that I could do about it.
My father arrived at the hospice house around 1:30pm with my brother, my mother and I not far behind. The discomfort and agony were keeping my father alive. Around 4pm, after all of the pain medication had kicked in, he passed away. At 21 years old, I had just watched my father breathe his last breath. The first thoughts going through my head were haunting. He will not see me graduate from college, get married, have my first child. He will not be there for any of that.
In the couple weeks to follow, the unhealthy relationship that I was in ended. It was tough for me to see at the time how God could take such a terrible time in my life and ultimately spin it for my good. The combination of unfortunate events in my life sent me into a deep depression. A lot of folks do not understand that depression is a lot more than being sad. It drains your desire to get out of bed in the morning; it takes away your joy in all the things that used to make you happy. To be honest, I was hard pressed to even feel joyful when I read my bible at times.
I was in shock for the first few weeks after my dad's death, but I spent most of the summer being somebody that I was not. The depression became more and more severe, and eventually I found myself alone on the floor, crying out to God. How could I be in this much pain? How could life sting me with this level of severity? Why was it not me that was diagnosed with cancer? Why did you have to take my dad away from me, God? I nearly took my own life that night, but as I found myself with a loaded pistol in my hand, the Lord spoke to me, “I’m not done with you yet, Jason.”
I firmly believe that sometimes to reach the greatest levels of change, God has to allow us to hit rock bottom. For the lifeguard to save us, we first have to give up on trying to save ourselves from drowning. I am not proud of what I allowed my depression to spiral into. However, I mention the uncut gruesome details of my story to truly highlight the beauty in it.
Plain and simply put, I would not be alive right now if it were not for God divinely intervening into this ugly situation. He reminded me that death does not have the final say, but Christ and Christ alone does. In the thick of the story, it can be so tough for us to see how God is working out everything for our good. I still do not know why God needed to call my father home so soon, but I can rest in the fact that the Lord knows exactly what I need, and when I need it. There WILL be a day with no more pain. He WILL wipe every tear from our eyes. A day when I can be with the Lord, Jesus. A day when I WILL be able to see my father again. Until that day comes, He told me to keep fighting the good fight.
Throughout all of this, the words of Romans 8:28 continued to play in the back of my head, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” At the time it was so tough to understand what God was up to, but ultimately He molded and refined me in unbelievable ways through some of the most painful circumstances I have ever been in. The death of my father made me twice the man that I was, and I can only trust that God is continuing to work this situation for my good.
I lost sight of who I was, but now I truly understand what it means to walk by faith. My depression caused me to lose sight of who I am in Christ. I lost sight of His love which surpasses knowledge; I lost sight of Jesus who gave His life for people like you and me to be adopted into the family of God. I lost sight of my heavenly Father, and while we, as fallen humans, are prone to run away from Him, the shepherd is faithful to bring his sheep home again.
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