My younger brother Steve died of a heart attack last week. He was only 41. At his birth I was almost 14, and loved to help Mom take care of him. When he was about 5, I married and moved out of state so I didn’t know him as well after that. It’s been good to hear his friends and family talk about his life, how fun-loving and caring he was. But it leaves a hole in our family. There were 6 siblings. Now there’s only 5.
It may sound plastic, but it’s really true. The Lord has been making His presence known even in the pain. It’s not a fairy tale, or a conjured-up feeling. He is there. In the night when distractions recede to expose the ache, I don’t try to avoid it. I invite the Spirit to be with me in it, allow Jesus to minister His unearthly strength and healing. The Father’s care is real. We really can surrender ourselves under His mighty hand and cast all our care upon Him for He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
Ten or twenty years ago, I couldn’t say this about God. At that time I didn’t feel God’s presence and I thought He had abandoned me. He has done (and is doing) a work in my heart, so that I’m learning to know Him as He is—not according to my mold of Him, expecting Him to make my life perfect—but as the King who is all-powerful, true and just, sovereign over all, but who also humbles Himself to share His life and compassion with us. He took on a body of flesh so He could experience pain to share in the yoke of our pain.
I’ll always have an ache in my heart when I think about Steve, as is normal for any loss in our lives. But I’ll also know the embrace of the Spirit who carries me in the pain.