I know God is real. I know God is ever present. I know God loves and cares about me and yet, when I see his hand undeniably present in my life I’m humbled beyond measure. Last weekend my husband and I had the privilege of seeing God directly comfort us in a time of trouble and I want to share our story with you so you can be blessed by it too and be reminded that God’s ever present hand of comfort is always on His children.
Like many families, we have a relative who struggles with mental illness. In our family it’s my husband’s oldest brother. He has struggled with the demons of that terrible disease most of his adult life. The difficult job of helping him navigate the world was filled by his parents and different government services. That is until their bodies gave way to old age and their minds crumbled under the curse of dementia.
For the last four years my husband and I have stepped in and taken over for his parents attempting to keep his brother safe, housed, and following the rules of different social services. As many of you know, some mentally ill people aren’t big on following rules and in fact can view them as an enemy. So when my husband would encourage his brother to clean his apartment so he wouldn’t be kicked out he was met with verbal abuse. Caring for an adult mentally ill sibling is not of easy. Caring for elderly parents with dementia is heart wrenching and stressful. Caring for both at the same time requires help from God!
Eventually he was kicked out of his apartment and spent a few months living in the local Gospel Mission until finally an agency found him a small apartment in a seedy part of town. We moved him in, warned him to follow the rules or he would lose this apartment, too. Within a year he was kicked out and once again living in the Gospel Mission.
The thing about staying at the mission is there is a limit to the length of time one is allowed to stay and my brother in-law’s time was up yesterday. I’ve spent hours calling different agencies seeking shelter for him; but the truth is he’s burned every bridge within these organizations. One lady who has dealt with him for years said the most loving thing we can do is let him fall; let him live on streets. It’s the best way to help him understand that he needs help from others and he must comply with the rules.
As you can imagine, my husband was consumed with guilt and grief about his brother, we talked frequently about what we should/could do? We wondered what our responsibility before God was. My husband was weighed down by the responsibility of both his brother and his parents.
Seeking a little relief from the stress we went to the ocean for the weekend. Sunday morning while walking down a trail high above the beach we happened upon a group of women singing “How Great Is Our God” our hearts were touched and we continued walking, quietly singing the song to ourselves. A sense of worshipfulness filled us both. Once we descended the stairs to the beach, we headed to the hard packed sand, and there written in large letters was ‘Psalm 46:1’. Curious, my husband looked up the verse on his phone and read out loud, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We both cried. God was wrapping us in a big God hug through His word.
But wait, there’s more. Monday morning before work my husband was reading the Bible and randomly decided to read from a book he’s never read before. Looking at the list of minor profits he decided to read from Nahum, possibly the most obscure book of the Old Testament. Turning to Nahum his eyes landed on Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Tears welled up in his eyes, yes, God was hugging him.
What a personal God we have! God knew my husband and I needed extra comfort and strength; that we were at the end of our own and in love God wrapped His strong arms around us through His word. God is good even when life is tough. As Christians we aren’t promised a trouble free life; we suffer like all other humans. What we are promised is God’s comfort and wisdom while going through our very human existence. My brother in-law is out on the streets and my in-laws won’t find healing until they’re in heaven. Even though this is true, a greater truth is God is with us, comforting us, hugging us.