In September of 2001 my big sister died from Pancreatic cancer. She became sick one day and two weeks later she passed away. One month ago, March 2020 my big brother went in to the hospital for a fairly simple procedure and two weeks later he passed away. These have both been tragic events in my life but my reactions have been very different.
When my sister passed away my coping mechanisms were drugs and alcohol. Shortly after her death I stepped up my drug use, 3 months later trying crack cocaine for the first time which was the beginning of a six year addiction that would inflict serious pain on my family and leave me homeless and completely broken.
In April of 2007 Jesus rescued me.
Psalm 40:2, "He pulled me out of the slimy pit. Out of the mud and muck. He sat my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand"
Shortly after I plugged in to the ministry of Celebrate Recovery which equipped me with the tools to live life on life's terms. In other words CR showed me how to cope with life the way Jesus told us to. Today I live by faith!
Since then I've plugged in to Jesus Christ and the power He's given me to face life's struggles and to celebrate life's victories. In the years since my father, mother, and best friend have passed away. Now, recently my big brother. At each of these celebrations of life I was able to give a eulogy, to focus on the blessing it was to have each of them in my life.
Plugging in to Jesus didn't make it easy or painless. The pain is real but I've learned it's ok to feel it. I've learned that God is with me as I walk through it and He reminds of that through the community of believers I'm surrounded by.
As I reflect on the similarities in my sister and my brothers death I can clearly see the difference in how both tragedies have worked in my life. Before I was a Christian I spun out in to drug addiction and nearly destroyed my family. Today, following my brothers death I've been able to be a source of comfort and guidance for my family. Instead of dragging them down I believe I've been able to lift them up.
What I've come to know is that life is tough. It doesn't matter if your rich or poor, married or single, have a great job or your unemployed. Life is tough. But when we learn to live life the way Jesus taught us, when we surround ourselves with a community of believers that will come beside us and walk through life with us.