“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.” Psalm 18:16-18
I stood with tear filled eyes, fighting back the rushing of emotions as I stood before our family and friends to speak about my brother Joe Luis. I had spent the night before scribbling on a notebook, steadily erasing the words that clearly weren’t enough to describe the love I have for my brother. My heart ached in sheer agony as I began to speak. “How do you sum up the life of someone you love dearly? You don’t.” I couldn’t sum up his life, I simply shared glimpses of some of the precious memories I held dear to my heart.
Four weeks ago today our family lost someone with such a beautiful heart, always thinking of how to help others yet fighting his own battles. Many he fought secretly until the weeks leading to this horrific tragic day. I’ve sat here for four weeks faced with the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster of grief I’ve been on. I’ve sat trying to understand WHY. I’ve questioned my own actions and what could I have done differently. And I’ve cried. Uncontrollably, wondering how can I possibly endure this pain. Losing someone I love so much.
And in these four weeks, I have leaned in so hard into God. Allowing Him to be the one to hold me up when I just couldn’t anymore. Giving God my shattered heart and grieving soul and trusting He would restore my peace and comfort. And one day I could regain my joy once again. Through much prayer, love and support from family and dear friends, I have seen Jesus through the eyes of so many. And for this I am beyond grateful.
I sat here today still finding it so hard to believe my brother is no longer going to be giving me grief on Thanksgiving for taking too long with my prayer. Or never getting that bucket of popcorn from him each Christmas with scratch off lotto tickets. I think he was just hoping one of us one day would hit it big.
I think of how much he suffered over the years. Tormented by the demons that attacked him every night when he tried to sleep. The addiction he battled daily had been a battle that had gone on for over 10 years. And we never knew. We never knew he had become so dependent on pain medications (opioids). And when he tried to stop, his mind became extremely unraveled filled with torment and agony. All this lead to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Which in the end became more than just a thought. Four weeks ago tonight, my brother could no longer push forward and his battle came to an end. His life gone too soon, tragically through suicide.
Time has passed yet the pain lingers heavily in our hearts. On that fatal night I remember sitting at my mother’s feet as she cried uncontrollably. I quietly whispered to her as I held her hands, “Mom…God rescued him.” In all my heartache and agonizing pain, I felt this sense of comfort in knowing that God had rescued Joe Luis long before this fatal moment. God had given me this peace when I heard him tell me, “I rescued him.”
It isn’t easy to understand the why’s and why not’s when we suffer a tragedy or heartache of any kind. We want more than anything to lean on our own understanding, when God clearly tells us not to. He wants us to trust Him, even when the outcome isn’t what we prayed for. Lord knows I prayed, I fasted, I worshipped God to save my brother. I pleaded for his life day after day. And I have found comfort in knowing God rescued him. He saved him. He healed him from every tormenting addiction, every painful thought, everything that burdened my brother. He was healed from it all. It wasn’t by my will but by God’s will. And I know this is true.
I’ll never be able to sum up the life of the little brother that gave me grief growing up, but knew how to make me feel his love when he called me “kid”. He cared immensely for his children, grandchildren, family and friends. He cared for all those he met that were battling just like him. And in his final messages to me, he told me just how much he loved helping others and talking to them. His life will continue to live on here on earth. And I know where he is today is where I plan to be one day when our Heavenly Father calls on me. He rest now in his Father’s arm. Pain free, healed, restored and made whole once again. Just as God promises us. My brother called on Him and God heard him, answered him and rescued him.
My dear friend, we will face circumstances in life that will be unfavorable and disheartening, but can I tell you something. Don’t lose faith in God. No matter how painful your situation is right now. No matter how agonizing the grief is. Trust God’s will. I will forever miss my brother but my heart is filled with joy in knowing how peaceful he finally is now. There is no more suffering for him. And his heart is truly full and at peace now.
God loves you my friend and there is nothing you can do to ever change how he feels about you.
And if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, addictions of any kind, I plead with you to seek help today. Call on a friend. Call on someone at your church. Or reach out to a facility that can help you overcome this battle. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
I love you dearly….Ileen
psst…God Loves You
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