The pastor’s wife almost didn’t come with her husband to the Atibaia Ministerial Alliance Retreat. Like her brother, Evelin had graduated from seminary, and like her brother, she was serving the LORD. She and her husband had just moved to Atibaia and started working in a new church when a stroke hammered her twenty-seven-year-old brother.
In the intensive care ward she cried out, “LORD, heal my brother! We grew up together. I raised him as his older sister. He’s more than my brother. He’s my ally in ministry. He’s always been there.” Then that stunning, numbing announcement came from the doctor. “He’s gone.”
Like a battlefield wound, PTSD brought panic attacks and locked her in her home. The joyful closeness with the LORD she had as a young girl—a passion she shared with her brother—was gone.
As I closed my devotional on Monday evening, I had no idea what Evelin was living. I told the story about a young man who grew up in our church, went out into the military, and lost his first love. I shared how he cried out to the LORD realizing that only He could give him the power to obey the First Commandment, and then I turned the time back to my nephew, David Cox.
David asked if anyone wanted to share. They did, and then Evelin began to open up. Through tears she poured out the story I told you above. When she finished, there was quiet, and then I shared, “Evelin, I’ve never experienced what you’re experiencing, but my wife Mary has. She lost her brother to a heart attack. She felt that distance, silence, and anger that you’re living. After we returned from her brother’s funeral in Wyoming, we had a sharing time like this in our church. She cried and then said, ‘I don’t believe there’s a God!’ (Mary and I hadn’t been in Midlothian that long, and this was a tough thing for a young pastor’s wife to say.) Sam, a tall Tennessean, didn’t say a word. He simply stood up, walked over to Mary and wrapped her in his brotherly arms.”
Then I stood up, knelt before the grieving pastor and his wife, and stretched my arms around them. Soon my arms were joined as the rest of the couples gathered around the couple, and then two of the women poured out their heart asking God to lift her up and draw close to Evelin, their sister in her deep pit.
“The LORD is the One who supports all who are falling,
He is the One who raises up all those who are bowed down.”
“The LORD is close to all who call Him,
To all who call on Him in truth.” Psalm 145: 14, 18
LORD, I live to experience these moments of grace when You surprise me with Your power and Your love, when You transcend all our plans. Thank You for taking over on Monday night, for revealing Your love through Evelin’s brothers and sisters in Christ here in Atibaia, Brazil, and I ask You to keep her from falling, to raise her up, and draw her close. You’re the only One who can get her through.
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