The Last Enemy

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. But ultimately it wasn’t death that I feared but the wrath of God.

Last night, I wrote that nothing was more convincing of my need to be saved than seeing so many people die in either terror or regret. It wasn’t that simple. For some people like myself, it would take much more than that.

Death was something I’ve encountered several times in my life. In my youth, I wrote stories and poetry about it. I learned all sorts of sorcery and called upon the dead. When my grandmother passed away, they opened the casket and I, together with her other grandchildren, kissed her hand before they lowered her into the grave.

When my father passed away, I was about 26 years of age. He was taken from ICU to the morgue and I was the one assigned to pick up the cadaver. They zipped open the body bag and there I saw my father, blood by the side of his mouth. I cried.

Trevor often told me that the British wouldn’t look upon their dead in this manner. Caskets are often closed during a wake and certainly no one will be asked to kiss the dead.

I came to Bohol and became a livestock farmer at the age of 40. Over the next 15 years I was made to toughen up some more by the illness and death of countless animals. The pigs were the most difficult for me. I would do everything I could to treat sick pigs and make dying pigs as comfortable as possible. But in the end, I was still witness to their last dying breaths, convulsions, and blood oozing from their snouts.

The hardest was a 5-year old sow, heavily pregnant, that became ill and died just 4 days before her expected delivery. I had her buried with all her unborn piglets. And if that wasn’t hard enough, while taking care of Trevor, already bedridden, my 7-year old boar couldn’t get up and after a week of treatment, I decided to have him put down. I hired 5 good men to kill him, cut him up (nobody could lift the carcass because he weighed over half a ton) and bury him. When it was over and I paid the men, Trevor joked, maybe they could do two for the price of one.

During the height of the pandemic my elderly aunt, recently widowed, having no children and living with two helpers, became ill. Her condition was already in the critical stage by the time the helpers informed my sister and I about her. Then I became the person assigned to decide for her care, all via Messenger and Viber video calls. Soon enough, I too became the person who would sign waivers for her treatments, request chaplain visits and the first to hear from her doctor of news of her passing.

Trevor’s illness and death was the most difficult of all. In hospital, I was surrounded by the dead and dying. I slept outside the building where I saw them coming and going.

Through all of these, I was unmoved. Spiritually unmoved. I didn’t think of hell or souls or afterlife. I was a solid, rational, intellectual, non-card-carrying but for-all-intents-and-purposes practicing atheist.

In these life situations, us atheists, agnostics, spiritualists, religious legalists, pharisees and Sadducees, members of heretical churches, and the like are really pretty much on our own. Which doesn’t seem to be so bad, really, because after Trevor passed away, I could’ve just carried on with the farming, art, music, reclusive lifestyle, etc. Which I did for about two months. Until I fell apart completely.

What made the difference? It wasn’t the loving and compassionate God. It was the just and wrathful God. The very holy God that is very angry at unrepentant self-righteous sinners.

Those of us who are theists like to think that God has got to be this kind, loving, compassionate God all the time. That’s what WE make of God. The shorthand for that is “idolatry.” I hardly ever read the Bible, so how could I possibly know the true character and attributes of God?

‭‭And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

‬‬But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:5‬ ‭NKJV

‬‬But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:5‭-‬6‬ ‭NKJV

By Fatima

Artist, Writer, Farmer. Born in Manila, lives in Bohol, Philippines.