Editor’s note: This article comes in two parts—the first released last week, written from the point of view of Rafael C. Catalan. The second part is below, written from the perspective of his wife, Honey Grace P. Catalan.
Where is God?
You’ve read our testimony from my husband, RAFFI’s perspective. You may be asking, “Where is God in all the troubles we went through?”
I was diagnosed with a deadly disease (cancer), struggled with a marriage annulment case, and juggled a growing busines that needed steady management. Clearly, I was blinded-sided in the pursuit of success through our business. Unmet expectations and frustrations developed a hardened heart against my husband. The submission issue was my “pain in the neck.”
An Issue of Submission
As I sought the Lord, I was shocked to learn that an “unsubmissive” heart is a rebellious heart. I realized that I was rebellious to my God when I refused to honor my husband’s role as the head of the family. People thought our marriage problems stemmed from infidelity. But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango.
I was dishonoring my husband when I sought and trusted in my own ways. I relied on myself when it came to making many family decisions. I was being rebellious that way. The troubles rocking our married lives came from our poor choices as a young couple. After all the many teachings and seminars I attended, the sin of my rebellion was revealed to me. I repented in prayer. I sought the LORD in humility. I pleaded for His hoped-for miracles.
How Can I Forgive?
In order for me to receive my miracles, I had to let go of negative things in my heart, so that I had room to receive God’s love for me. I had to cast all my anxiety, pain, anger, shame, and the many lies I believed. I needed to confront all these issues.
One major thing I struggled with was unforgiveness. I remember running away and seeking refuge in an island my Christian friend owned. I stayed in a treehouse for two days, alone and hurting. In the middle of the first night, a storm came. The lashing sound of the howling winds shook the treehouse, resonating with the anger and restlessness in my heart. I cried out all my anguish. I shivered in fear. I was feverish and in emotional and physical pain. I felt like passing out.
Then I saw a vision of Jesus on the cross. I saw his blood streaming out of His body. I looked into His eyes and felt His loving gaze upon me. He was taking all my fears and pains away. For every question I asked of Him, He showed me that everything was already answered — on the cross. That night, JESUS healed my heart, and I slept through the storm.
“Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross!”
–by Kathryn Scott
The next morning, I woke up with no more fever. I came down from the treehouse and admired the quiet beauty of the island. The resort was closed off for renovation, and I was the only guest. I ate my meals prepared by the staff and spent the day swimming on the beach. I felt refreshed.
He Cared for Me
At that time, I resolved to focus wholly on receiving JESUS’ love for me. I resolved to trust in HIM. I forgave myself for my rebellion and resolved to be kind to myself, taking care of my needs, too.
I boarded the pump boat, my heart carrying God’s whisper from 1 Corinthians 13:8: “Love never fails.”
I was surprised to see Raffi waiting for me at the seaport, the children along with him, as he offered to bring me back home. It was time to put this fresh love from Jesus into action, even when Raffi continued in his stubborn ways with other women. Days, weeks, and months went by as I continued handling our businesses. I chose to wait upon the Lord with my surrendered heart at peace.
The God Who Moves
Despite our circumstances at that time, God’s power was moving through the prayers of many people. From our church caring circles, respective families, batch mates from school, friends, to fellow business and trade operators—God used them to minister to my family. They visited us, and many sent food, herbs and vegetables for my dietary protocol as I battled my cancer. Others even provided financial support, and many donated anonymously.
There was one striking instance when a random Christian taxi driver spoke to my husband a day before his accident. He told my husband, “Sir, if a man does not listen to man’s rebuke, God’s discipline will come.” At that time, Raffi was always wondering why so many pastors visited and prayed for him every day. They’d come in the morning and evenings, and he chided me for assigning them a schedule, though I never did.
When Raffi got into the freak accident that made him lose his leg, we still felt the love of God through special friends who volunteered to watch over Raffi in the hospital. Many pastors, firemen, and other good men donated blood. Raffi received blood transfusions of more than 18 packs throughout his ordeal. It was as if his whole body were being detoxified and cleansed!
The Battle is Fought on Our Knees
All of Raffi’s doctors and specialists were truly God-sent. They huddled around us, encouraging us with prayers for Raffi. Many prayer warriors also journeyed with us! I was so awed to meet them, especially during the moments when I felt weak. They fought for us; they raged through the battle in prayer! Some even traveled from far-flung cities to visit us, telling us that it was God who impressed it upon their hearts to go and pray with us.
Every night, my children joined me in worship and prayer. For every bad report I received, I chose to cry to the LORD about them. I taught my children that their prayers were heard by the LORD. Clearly, in our weakness, God’s strength was made perfect!
A Restored Life
Hallelujah! It has been 18 years since I survived the breast cancer diagnosis. My husband and I are now walking in divine health! I tasted the goodness of God! I received His love — He healed me and my husband Raffi, our marriage, and our family. I tasted the beauty of godly submission in marriage, and of being loved and adored by one’s spouse.
We also now see our children walking in the fear of the Lord. We witnessed how disobedience opens the doors for cursing and troubles; while in obedience, God’s blessings flow.
Our marriage is not perfect, but we have a perfect God covering us!
A Consistent Love
In the end, despite all the miracles I experienced, I can say that nothing else can surpass the healing, loving, sustaining, empowering, strengthening, and overwhelming “Presence of God” in my life. Indeed, when you seek Him, you will find Him as you seek Him with all of your heart.
HE satisfies! Nothing can ever surpass the thrill and beauty of God’s unconditional love purchased on the Cross for sinners like us through JESUS.
It was His kindness that brought us into repentance and healed us! Hallelujah! Glory to God!
The details of the many lessons, realizations and revelations out of this healing journey will be shared through a book which is still in the process of writing. The purpose of this book is to be able to reach and help couples and families who are in a similar situation that Raffi and I underwent. Please pray for us.
Honey Grace P. Catalan
Honey Grace P. Catalan is a Unit Head in Manulife Philippines. She is the Chairperson of the Management Team of Project Elisha, a collaborative project between Bacolod City Alliance Church and Compassion Philippines. Honey Grace is one of the Coordinators of Family Foundations International-PhilAsia. She was once a TV host with ABS-CBN Bacolod/Negros and a former radio host at FEBC - DYVS Bacolod. She and Raffi have been married for 28 years and have three children.