There is a fine line between being vulnerable and over-sharing. While I strive to always be authentic with you in my writing, there are certain details I don’t share. To protect my family, friends, and loved ones, some stories are more general in nature.
But today, I want to get more personal with you than I ever have. Because today, I see the fruit of years spent crying until my eyes burned in prayer. I see a long battle with addiction surrendered to the fullness and freedom of Christ. For the first time in a long while, I am hopeful about a future for someone I love dearly: my brother.
But I also realize that for years, I put my hope in the wrong things.
I hung my hope on a specific outcome or on things turning out the way I desired with my tightly clutched hands. But God’s grace goes far beyond what we can see with our limited vision.
If you are in the trenches today, praying for someone you fear may never return home, I want to encourage you. I know my prayers aren’t over, because our enemy is constantly is constantly at work to distract us and shackle us to the strongholds in our lives. If there’s anything the past decade has taught me, it’s that these battles aren’t with the things we see, but against the unseen forces we can’t see.
Here’s God showed me over the past year:
When I looked at the battle visible with my eyes, I saw a person who needed a job, who I feared wouldn’t make it past fifty, and was an addict. I saw unanswered prayers, the stress of family members, and negated responsibilities. What I didn’t see was the spiritual aspect, because this realm can only be discerned with the help of the Spirit. This is what our enemy wants, friends. He doesn’t want us to focus on the real problem.
One day, I was completely exasperated and out of words, and He gave me a little nudge. “Abby, you are praying for things that are of this life and this world, but your brother needs prayer that will help him overcome the lies of the enemy. Pray for him to see his life has value. Pray for him to see his life is worth saving.”
A person who doesn’t believe his life has any value won’t take active steps to improve it. This is the constant struggle of the addict. They believe they’ve gone too far, that their lives are too much of a mess to save. So they get another fix. They take another hit. It is a never-ending cycle.
After that day, this became my prayer: “God, help my brother to see his life has value. Help him to see that you have good plans for his life, even now. You can redeem what was lost.”
Today, my brother is sober and just landed a permanent job with a company where he receives benefits for the first time in over a decade. He is referred to by those he works with as “Preacher Dan” and is known as hardworking, dependable and reliable. He is working to restore his relationship with his daughter and grandson. And all glory goes to a God who loves each of us far more than we deserve.
Friend, I know the struggle won’t end on this side of eternity, but through this rollercoaster of heartache and rejoicing, God taught me about hope. He taught me that even when nothing looks like it will ever change, I can still hope because:
- God never stops chasing the sheep who leaves the other ninety-nine. He will keep pursuing, keep loving and using any means possible to bring that person back. He is a God who never quits.
- The place where my resolve ends is where God’s grace begins. My completely emptied out, snotty prayers where I’m at the end of myself are where he does his best work. He doesn’t need eloquent or figured out words. He just needs a heart that’s reaching toward him out of love for another human being.
- A secure job, future and income are all wonderful things to pursue and desire for our families. But ultimately, God is not as concerned with this life as he is with our eternal future. This is what we need to focus on for those we love also.
As I rejoice in all the work God did over the past year, I don’t stop praying. I pray for each of us to seek his will and his plans for us. And I thank him that he always sees what’s on the other side of the longest valleys.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“I highly recommend this book for Christians of all ages. “Shift” helped me to see God in my struggles, past and present ones.” -Barbara
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.