My maternal grandmother, Eloise Ham, was raised alongside fourteen brothers and sisters in rural Timmonsville, South Carolina. She learned the value of hard work by caring for her younger siblings and performing her daily duties on the family farm.
I believe Tom Brokaw was right when he labeled her and her peers, The Greatest Generation. They taught us the value in an honest day’s work, the necessity for loving our neighbors, and what it means to fear God.
But the most valuable lessons my grandmother taught me were the ones she lived.
After she passed away, her worn Bible remained as a physical testimony of what it means to weather life’s storms faithfully. Each day, His Word was her anchor and hope for her soul.
Regardless of the trials she faced, she held fast to her favorite saying, “This too shall pass.” Those words were confidently spoken from her lips and hidden in her heart. As if she were a ship at sea, anchoring until the storm had passed, she rested securely in the safety of their promise.
Even in her darkest hour, when my Grandfather, committed suicide during a battle with lung cancer, she never wavered from living the truth contained in those four words.
I wish I could say the same.
The Storm Rages On
I’ll never forget the day when I learned that Grandma Ham was dying. Her cancer had progressed and multiple complications emerged from congestive heart failure to wildly high blood pressure.
I wept uncontrollably by her bedside. She was a staple in my life, a calm amid the storms, and I was unsure how I would experience the world without her in it.
Even in the midst of my tears, she remained steadfast. She gently placed her hand on my shoulder and softly assured me, “It’ll be just fine, Matt. This too shall pass.”
I knew her condition wasn’t going to improve, but her confidence that her journey was just beginning gave me an odd peace that transcended her death. I’m not sure that I have ever witnessed someone die with so much grace and dignity.
I was given the honor of speaking at her memorial in May of 2012. I emphasized her vibrancy–how she stared death in the eye with a smile–and I challenged everyone in attendance to live their life with such fervent faith.
Only now, as I look back on the words that I shared, I realize that it was one of the first times I spoke of living a rich life, because that’s how my grandmother lived.
As I closed, I shared her favorite phrase as an encouragement to the hundreds in attendance:
“This too shall pass”
This Too Shall Pass
When storm clouds form and the rumble of thunder can be heard in the distance, we begin to question. We question God and we question ourselves. But when the rain falls violently and the wind howls, our questions become curses. We often scream at our Creator for allowing such pain.
At Grandma’s funeral, I sang a song called The Anchor Holds. I can still hear the words today and tears flow as they bring back the memory of losing her. But it is the closing line that give me hope every time.
“I have fallen on my knees
as I face the raging seas,
but the anchor holds
in spite of the storm.”
The pain of life is real, but if Grandma taught me anything, she taught me to hold fast to the Anchor of Hope because that Anchor always holds.
King Solomon said that God has set eternity within the human heart. We may search for life and fulfillment and contentment in countless empty promises, but the hope of eternity is the only thing that will satisfy our longing.
It may seem cliché and naive to encourage you to remain hopeful during difficult times, but I realize now that my grandmother died with so much grace and dignity because she hoped for eternity.
To her, life was only the beginning. And she began well.
I pray that the same will be true for us.
Hold fast to hope today, friends. It will not disappoint.