Facing death at 27, I still feel excited about my future
Wiki Tay // August 5, 2020, 12:38 pm
All photos courtesy of Gershon Liew
While pursuing her doctoral degree in the UK, Wiki Tay was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. In just short six months, the aspiring clinical psychologist was called home to the Lord on March 5, 2020.
The following testimony was adapted from a speech Wiki made on her 27th birthday. Her husband Gershon has also shared about his battle with grief, loss and COVID-19 on Stories of Hope.
Birthdays are about the celebration of life, but I feel like you can’t really know the depth of what life is without knowing what death is.
I first thought about mortality properly when my mum got a terminal illness. I came to understand that life is fleeting.
But even with that understanding, when the doctor gave me my report, I found myself fighting against it.
I think it’s a natural response because even though everyone knows that we will die one day, nobody is really ready for it. Especially for young adults like you and me.
I’ve been on an oral drug therapy that has been very successful in suppressing cancer. Scientifically, the average time for cancer to relapse is in 18 months. When that happens, the drug will no longer be effective, and I would then start the second half of my treatment, which is usually chemotherapy.
It was a wrestle to come to acceptance about the prognosis. There was a time where I felt pity for myself, where I was frustrated that I had to think about mortality at this age.
There were also many losses I had to come to terms with. Being young, we all naturally have plans for ourselves. But because of this illness, I had to surrender my plans.
Surrendering is such an unnatural process because it requires you to give up everything. I have this image of a soldier who has fallen from war and has to surrender without choice to the captain. It almost feels like that.
Yet at the same time, because of the character of the person I’m surrendering to, I receive peace in exchange.
Peace that even though the future is uncertain, I know that it is in the hands of a God who is of perfect love, and who thinks of me with kindness and good thoughts. I have the assurance that no matter what happens, I am in good hands.
Even though I feel like I’m falling, I feel cushioned by the hands of God.
Rather than feeling beaten up or that life is unfair, I actually feel excited. No matter what the future is, I feel excited because I know that the future no longer depends on my earthly limited plan A, plan B or plan C, but on God who transcends our three-dimensional world.
It is also this closeness with death that gives me extra clarity about life.
Somehow things look clearer to me, even when I take a stroll. I feel like I see the flowers and greenery with a lot of clarity that I haven’t seen before, which was really interesting. I feel thoroughly blessed.
I was reflecting about the past and seeing what was the common denominator. I realised I could divide 27 into 3 x 9 years and see my life in three parts.
For the first nine years, I would say that it’s about growing up physically more than anything else. I didn’t have any desires; all I needed was just to receive and receive.
The next nine years, my desires were determined by the environment. I was trying to do what the world thinks I should be doing and just going with the flow.
And the last nine years was when Christ found me. I also knew what I wanted to do and was just pursuing it relentlessly.
Because of the character of the person I’m surrendering to, I receive peace in exchange.
This birthday would mark the start of the next nine years. I feel that while previously Christ found me, at this point of time, I feel like I’ve now found Christ.
Even though I feel like I’m falling, I feel cushioned by the hands of God. Every step of the way, I feel His love and His presence. I really feel that I know Christ from a different perspective, even in a closer way.
Gershon (my husband) and I now share a dream that we want to grow old together until our hair turns grey, but that dream requires a miracle.
It’s difficult to hold both the faith in God coming through with signs and wonders, and the faith that my future is in the hands of a sovereign God.
It feels very different: one is about signs and wonders, and one is about the sovereignty of God.
Yet it’s unwise to see God as working only in one way. So I’ve come to a place of acknowledgement about the medical facts. With that thought, I feel excited about life.
At the same time, I’m also praying and believing in God for a miracle that I’ll be completely healed. With that thought, I feel excited about my future as well.
You can read the testimony shared by Wiki’s husband here:
THINK + TALK
- Reflect on your own journey of faith. How have the circumstances in your life helped you to know Christ better or in a new way?
- In what areas do you find it difficult to surrender your plans to God’s will?
- Are you ready to face death?