God Healed My Spiritual Burnout Through My Grandfather

A picture of an old man reading the Bible
A picture of an old man reading the Bible (photo: Canva.com)
By Xiao PengJanuary 15th, 2024

As a left-behind child, I was raised by my grandmother. My grandmother was once working on a farm, and one of her neighbors preached the gospel to her. Although she was illiterate, she started to believe in the Lord. More than 20 years later, my grandmother often rushed to the church in the next village after lunch with me (about five years old) in her arms. The psalms sung in church and the vivid stories in the Bible touched my soul for a lifetime.

It wasn't until my senior year that I began to think seriously about faith. At that time, I repented of my sins and embraced Jesus Christ as my savior. In the past few years, although I went to church on time every week and learned about the catechism of the Christian religion, I often complained about the Lord.

There were times when I didn't understand why a loving God would arrange things in the world like that. For example, I prayed for my marriage for almost 10 years, but God barely answered, as if he were covering his ears. After I got married, my wife and I prayed for fertility for three years with no answer at all.

The list goes on and on, and we all know that Christians should be grateful for everything because they believe in the unchanging love of God in his sovereignty. But in this exercise of faith, like the Israelites, I complained to God whenever I encountered adverse situations, and this became the overwhelming spiritual internal friction in my life.

During that period, I struggled while serving for almost a year. Once, I said to my grandfather, "I really don't understand. Doesn't the Bible say that God feeds the sparrows? Why is it that after God called me to quit my job and serve full-time, I can't even afford my rent in the city now?" My grandfather just listened quietly. He said to me earnestly and kindly, "No matter what you have been through, believe that God owes you nothing from the beginning to the end, and He has given us everything He has."

As I grew up, I often confided in my grandfather about the difficulties of my faith, and he always comforted me with God's love. But in the past, he was not like this. Twenty years ago, my grandfather was just a drunk, and he had a bad temper. Almost every Sunday, he would scold my grandmother for taking me to church and not cooking dinner on time. On Christmas Day in 2003, my grandfather accepted his neighbor's invitation to go to church, and he took my grandmother and me to the church to watch performances and listen to sermons. More than a month later, my grandfather announced that, under the influence of my grandmother, he had repented and believed in Jesus. On that day, I remember my grandfather taking out all the books in the house about superstition, kneeling on the floor mat, confessing his sins, and praying for the Lord's forgiveness. I remember clearly that the last words of my grandfather's prayer were, "From now on, I want to serve the Lord Jesus all my life." After the prayer, my grandfather knelt to open the door of the boiler and threw the books about worshipping idols into the fire to burn them into ashes.

The next year, because there was no church in the village, my grandfather took the initiative to make his house a place for receptions and meetings. Since that spring, the next-door neighbors could often hear psalms coming from my grandfather's house. At five o'clock in the morning, the gathered believers could also be heard praying in a circle on the roof. From then on, my grandfather started to read the Bible every morning instead of listening to the news. Before going to bed at night, he would kneel with my grandmother in front of the bed and pray for God's kingdom and those in need for an hour. Not only that, but my grandfather also committed to fasting and praying for the church once a month.

What amazes me is that my grandfather believed in the Lord for nearly three decades and never once complained about God's leadership. At that time, the villagers were not rich, and many of them went to work in the cities. In addition to farming, my grandfather also went to look for work in the cities. But every time he met a potential employer, my grandfather would begin by saying, "I'm a Christian, so I can't come to work on Sundays." Because he did not meet the conditions of many employers, my grandfather did not find a job for half a year, and my family was unable to make ends meet due to the low yield of corn. Although I could feel the pressure in my grandfather's heart during that time, I never heard him complain about God. On the contrary, he often said to me and my sister at the dinner table, "We should give thanks for everything in life, and we should be content with food and clothing."

In the winter of 2022, my grandfather, who had been serving the church for nearly 30 years, found himself in the hospital's emergency room due to severe abdominal pain. Although the village had announced the end of pandemic prevention and control, Grandfather was diagnosed with two advanced-stage cancers, and the prognosis was that he had, at most, three months left to live. Upon hearing the news, I hurriedly took a train back to be by Grandfather's side, intending to accompany him through the final stage of his life.

After returning home, my grandfather lay weakly on the sofa and had not eaten or drunk for many days. I held my grandfather's hand and asked him if it hurt. He  shook his head and said softly, "With the Lord by my side, I am not afraid." During that period, I used to read the catechism for my grandfather about the resurrection and about the children of God coming immediately after death into the arms of the Lord. My grandfather said that his biggest concern now is, "I need to spend more time to repent to the Lord every day because I cannot go to the Lord with the sins that I do not want to repent of."

At that time, many in my family could not understand why my grandfather, who had served God so godly, had suddenly become seriously ill. My grandfather did not complain foolishly about God like them, but said to those who asked him that question, "Is it not better for God to take me into glory than the blessings of this earth?"

Later, my family and some of my brothers and sisters formed an online prayer group that kept praying for my grandfather every night. Miraculously, after praying for my grandfather for more than a month, he gradually recovered and was healed six months later.

Now 2024 is here, and the prayer group still keeps praying for my grandfather every night. Now his life has returned to normal. He still reads the Bible every morning, prays in the evening, and fasts and prays all day once a month. Every time the believers in the church heard his voice on the phone and saw him serving in the video, they would give endless thanks to God. I don't know how long the Lord would allow his life to be spent serving on earth. Still, when I think about my grandfather, I would stop complaining about God and pray with the words he taught me:  "No matter what I'm going through, I believe God owes me nothing from the beginning to the end, and the Lord has given me everything He has."

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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