My joy is sharing with you the truths God has taught me for living abundantly in this unpredictable world. I don’t often give details about the circumstances where I learned those life-lessons.

Today’s thoughts come from a heart-breaking experience that spanned many years—caring for my beloved brother Charlie through numerous health issues and finally, kidney failure.

Charlie and I grew up together. He was two years older so we went through school together. In college we took several classes together. By taking summer courses, I caught up with him and we graduated together.

By that time I’d already married, and a couple years later, he married. But we were still together, looking after our aging parents, as our three older siblings lived out of state. Only Charlie and I stayed in our hometown, rearing our children and making a life.

Our kids had left the nest and our parents had gone to heaven by 2000 when Charlie lost his wife after a battle with cancer. Later that year, his health issues qualified him for disability retirement, a huge blessing from the Lord.

Since he lived alone, I wanted to help fill the emptiness and did everything I could to bring joy to my gentle, soft-spoken brother. After a medical appointment and shopping for groceries, we’d eat at one of his favorite fast-food restaurants, often ending with a Dairy Queen chocolate-dipped cone for dessert.

In 2008 our routine changed. After an unexpected diagnosis of severe kidney failure, Charlie underwent fistula surgery, preparing for a day coming soon when he would begin dialysis three days weekly. Shortly after the surgery, a fall landed him in the hospital, and complications forced him to start emergency dialysis. Due to other issues, he had a 50-50 chance of surviving the night, but God spared him.

During the next few weeks Charlie was in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities, unable to get his six-foot frame out of bed. Seeing his decline over the past eight years had bruised my heart. Now, even together, we could not care for him at home. A nursing facility was our only option, and that decision broke my heart. My journal notes take the story forward.

“I would rather die than go through this. But that is not God’s will. He still has work for me. He will give me grace to go through this. This is the hard part—getting ready to give him up. In church this morning, we sang ‘I shall know him by the prints of the nails in his hands.’ My mind’s eye took me back to our childhood, seeing Mother at the kitchen sink singing joyously, ‘His smile will be the first to welcome me.’ Yes! And then Mama. Her smile will be the second to welcome Charlie and me.”

During the next seven years and over forty hospitalizations, Charlie brought joy to my life—and everyone he touched. When he’d return to the nursing facility after a hospital stay, the welcome reminded me of the welcome given the grand marshal of the Rose Bowl parade. Medical staff and residents lined the halls, waving and smiling as the EMS team wheeled him to his room.

One night after visiting, as I started to leave the room, he said so softly I almost didn’t hear, “I’m sorry.”

Returning to his bedside, I said, “What did you say?”

“I’m sorry for being so much trouble.”

“You are not trouble,” I said. “Don’t ever feel that way. I’m just doing what you would do for me. I’ll do everything I can for you as long as I’m living.”

In December 2015 cardiac arrest delivered Charlie straight into the arms of Jesus—and Mama.

I began writing this article after coming across journal notes. The mind is so incredible. I relived the moments as if they’d just happened, feeling the pain and sorrow once more.

But reading on, I read notes of God’s faithfulness…how he carried me through heartbreak and never failed me. And that’s my purpose in sharing this personal chapter of my life.

Whatever you’re going through, however deep the heartbreak, God is with you! He has a purpose and he will use it for your good and his glory. Never doubt that. He often takes us through circumstances we don’t want to travel. But his presence is a certainty, and his promises are reliable.

Whatever you’re going through, however deep the heartbreak, God is with you! He has a purpose and he will use it for your good and his glory. Never doubt that. He often takes us through circumstances we don’t want to travel. But his… Click To Tweet

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Wherever you are today, lean on him and trust him,. knowing this:

  • He has a purpose for whatever he allows to touch your life.
  • He is working when you cannot see.
  • He is always doing something bigger than we can see.

Blessings, my friend, as you navigate this uncertain path. We’re in this together. And the One who goes before us will not allow our foot to slip.

© Dianne Barker 2020

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