Boast In The Lord January 25th, 2022

A Word From Nicole Rebholz

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Growing up in a home where alcoholism was present, I helped raise my youngest brother who was about 10 years younger than I. I often took care of him during the day and woke up with him when he cried at night, and as a result we formed a very close bond. When the environment in our home was very contentious and frightening, he would come in my room and sit on the end of my bed while I completed homework and we would talk about his friends, his school day, his goals for the future, and football. I cherished those moments.
I became intently focused on leaving home and being the first in my family to attend college, but I struggled greatly with the idea of leaving him behind. I thought that I could help set an example for my brother and show him that he could one day also leave and chase his own dreams and goals. 
I left home when I was 18, and he was 8, but came back almost every weekend to see him and attend his football games throughout my college experience. We remained close, so when he was 16 and I discovered that he had a heroin addiction, I was devasted. I tried not to give in to fear but trusted that God would work in his life. I tried pouring into him, tried tough love, tried finding him and enrolling him in college, recovery programs, and therapy. There were times where he was clean, but he inevitably relapsed and called me broken and crying, “I just keep screwing up.” 
One night God told me to pray specifically for my brother’s walk with Him. I prayed hard…sometimes for an hour in the middle of the night, but in 2018, right before New Year’s, we found my brother in his apartment. He had overdosed and couldn’t be revived. 
My grief was so overwhelming that I felt hope and light were extinguished. It felt like even autonomous responses were a struggle as if I had to remind my heart to beat and my lungs to breath. Amid my grief also existed a tempered rage. When I prayed, doubt crept in and taunted “why bother?” 
When we cleaned out his apartment, he had very few possessions as he had sold most of them. One of the things we did find was a bible, worn and marked up with various verses underlined and highlighted. Holding his bible in my hands, I knew in my heart that God was always with him. 
Several months later, I saw a young man that looked so much like my brother that grief and the ache to see him washed over me again, and in my heart, I cried out to God, “I asked you to save him!!” Immediately, I very clearly and very powerfully heard God reply, “And I did.” It was the sobering. 
I don’t know this side of heaven why he struggled so badly, and why his life was cut so short. I also recognize that just because I couldn’t see God at work, doesn’t mean He wasn’t. God doesn’t belong in the box I had put Him in. His ways are so great and there’s only so much we can truly comprehend in our very limited and imperfect human understanding.
Waves of deep grief still overwhelm me periodically. Grief is tricky like that. It never goes away…only becomes more spread out over time. Sometimes I miss him so much I can’t even breath. But every time I am brought back to the unchanging truth that God has always held him in the palm of His hand, and that His ways are great even when it doesn’t make sense to us or doesn’t appear that our prayers have been answered. 
He promises that his plans for us are meant to prosper us, give us hope, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He hears and He answers us, and one day we will we understand His answers, but for now I find hope in the truth that death in this world is not the end of the story.

Heavenly Father, help me to never lose hope because of circumstances. Help me to see and love others the way that you see and love them. Help me to remember that your ways are great and perfect, and that I cannot see and understand all your ways. Your ways go beyond the scope of what our imperfect eyes can see and what our imperfect hearts can understand but everything you do works together for our good. Thank you for your love and guidance.

No Comments