Life just threw me a lemon. I remember on Thursday the night before I received the news that my brother passed away. I prayed on behalf of my family and that was something I’ve done countless of times. The next night my brother was dead. How? God, I just prayed for him. I prayed for you to save him and heal him. I prayed intensely for the salvation of my family over and over. I grew up in a broken home. My mom was a single parent struggling to raise her kids alone. I know the intro of this blog post is quite sad but trust me I am headed somewhere. It’s been three weeks since the passing of my brother and it still feels unreal. It was unexpected. I started reading a devotional titled “Unexpected” by Christine Caine three days before my brothers passing. How ironic. She chronicles her struggles with her thyroid cancer diagnosis through this devotional. Here is an excerpt:
“In our humanness, we will try to control everything—including God. Yet, we serve a God who refuses to be controlled by us. That’s because part of the mystery and the adventure of following Jesus is to trust him, no matter what is going on around us. To keep our hearts so open to him, that when the unexpected happens, he can use it for our good. To free him to use the unexpected—a necessary catalyst—to grow us, sanctify us and help us see life with a whole new perspective, because nothing grows without disruption and interruption—without the unexpected.”
You see God will get His glory, God will fulfill His purpose for your life anyway and anyhow. He can’t be controlled. We try to control God without even realizing it. We pray for the desires of our heart but fail to ask Him if it aligns with His purpose for our lives. We make plans without first seeking Him and then we ask Him what He thinks later. You see everything God allows is for our benefit as heartbreaking as it may be. I’ve gotten past the “Why God?” to “Reveal your plan through this pain”. “His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). He will use pain to heal you. Weird right? The pain you feel will cause you to seek Him more and when you do He will begin to mend even the pre-existing hurt that once hindered you or kept you half-hearted.
I guess this is all part of growing up huh. Isn’t adulting difficult? God wants to develop and empower us to grow. He wants our trust in Him to be solid. He wants our reliance on Him to be certain. It is not easy. But what other option do you have? After all, He is the Alpha and the Omega. But most importantly He is a loving Father, who wants the best for His children. He is our Creator. So as much as you think that you may know yourself, He knows you more because He created you. I learned a few things during this journey and I would like to share:
- Nurture your relationships –(1 Thessalonians 5:11-19)– I have learned to be a better friend. I received an overwhelming level of support from my friends. I mean besides the phone calls, text messages, and prayers. My friends and church members gave up their time to attend the funeral service, to call and pray with me and most importantly encouraged me. You know that challenged me and convicted me because two of my friends suffered recent losses and although I called them, I don’t feel like I offered enough support. Your entourage is very important. You have to surround yourself with people who can pour into you and uplift you in the dark moments. Your circle of influence can either hinder your growth or hearten you to keep going.
- Take your eyes off of yourself– You know we all have a selfish nature about ourselves. We magnify our circumstances by keeping the focus on our problems. We play right into the hands of the enemy because He wants our circumstances to have us. Most of the time it does. But as bad as we may have it, there is someone else who is going through an experience far greater. God wants to free us from ourselves. There are people He needs us to reach but we are too consumed with our own problems. Would you have more time to pray for a loved one, a co-worker or even a random stranger if your prayer life didn’t consist of your own issues? Meditate on that question. Problems will surely come but the good news is that God promised to be with us through them all. The minute you prayed about it, He heard. But guess what? Many times the issues that arise in your life are a distraction sent by the enemy to keep you from focusing on what’s really important. I’ve learned to put my focus on what/who really matters and set my priorities in order.
- God is still good– I know how easy it is to place the blame on God but it’s not His fault. It’s the fault of sin. While He does know what is going to happen before it happens, He does not leave you without support. I can testify because only God could have given me the strength to stand at my brothers funeral and support my mother at the same time. God is a very present help in time of need! He is faithful. He will honor His Word by remaining by your side through it all even when you neglect Him because He loves you that much. Wow.
- Trust God– He will get you through. His Word gives us the assurance that “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28). Only He can use a painful, hurtful situation and turn it around for your good to bring about a new beginning far beyond your wildest imagination. “You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. (Psalm 89:13). When I read that Scripture passage, I imagine God’s strong hand reaching out to carry me when I can’t find the strength. He wants you to lean in closer to Him. He wants you to develop unshakable faith in Him because how else will you really know God if not through personal experience.
- Say “I love you” more– I think I will end every conversation with a loved one or any close friend with an “I love you” from now on. You should as well.
I will end on this note: Let us continue to share Jesus because the world is in desperate need of Him.
I really just want to give a big thank you to everyone who has reached out with their own personal stories of loss, prayers, and uplifting words. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my beloved brother Jr, “I love you”.