Mis dos hermanos; life and death

12 Dec

They do say, "That which you most fear has already happened."

God taught me a lesson last month. He reminded me that it’s not all about me. In fact it was incidental that he taught me a lesson, because what happened was not all about me… but he’s clever like that.

There are two guys in my life who I think of as my brothers. For different reasons… but they are the only two guys who call/ed me ‘hermanita’ – little sister – and whom I call/ed ‘hermano’ – bro. Deep friends. I used to have pictures of the two of them up in the middle of my wall, side by side. They are, in many unexpected and surprising ways, quite similar. Steve and Henrry.

When Steve died, one of the things I thought afterwards was that I wished I’d known he was in hospital that night, because I would have stayed up praying my guts out. But now I’m not sure I actually would have done. In 2006, I didn’t believe that anyone I knew could really die. In 2009, I believed that everyone would.

So, when I heard on my birthday that Henrry was at death’s door in hospital in Lima and going in for surgery that night, I was suddenly ambushed by a fear I thought I’d left in the past. My lips were singing, "Nothing is impossible for You", but my heart was saying, "Here we go again." "Nobody comes out of surgery in Peru." "There go your brothers."

It was a sleepless night, like I’d always wanted, praying and praying, trusting God a tiny fraction but crying on the outside and screaming on the inside. I just couldn’t believe this was almost an exact replay of what happened to Brother One, with Brother Two. My fear ran ahead of me and filled in the end of the story the way it had learnt, and while everyone was saying, "God will look after him", I nodded and thought, with certainty, "He’s going to die. That’s what happens."

But the thing is – it’s not me who decides what happens.

The next day there was good news, and I heard God whisper, "Your brothers don’t always die." And that was the understatement of the century.

Not only has Henrry recovered, he was out of hospital three days after he woke up. He should have been in hospital for at least two months. And he is fine. I spoke to this dead man walking on Skype the other day, large as life (though half a lung poorer), and he said that his doctors actually told him it was "a miracle" that he had recovered like this.

Henrry didn’t just survive – he is impossibly alive. There couldn’t be two more different outcomes to my two brothers’ trips to hospital in Lima. What does that mean? Does it mean anything?

I remember the very same weekend a few years ago, when Hanna and I were missing Stevey, and we were out praying under the stars. Looking up at the sky, she said she was reminded of the beginning of Acts: They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men
of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come
back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
She said, if we really understood anything about life and death and life, we wouldn’t be sitting here staring into the sky like this. We have such a small glimpse of what’s really going on.

For me, it means that it’s not all about me, actually. It showed me that I had begun to believe it was. It showed me how little I trusted God and how tightly I clung to my fear – for what? So that I wouldn’t be surprised by death again? The outcome was having all those poisonous little assumptions disproved, and being surprised by life instead.

"That which you most fear has already happened." Thank God for that.


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