Survivors Guilt

His Life blog copy.png

To be alive without the freedom to fully live is such a tragedy. Life became filled with this ache of silent guilt, after the death of my older brother, when I was just 6 years old. It was like a lingering mist that hung in the air, blocking out the warmth of the sun’s rays. Life was never quite as bright after that moment.

             Sometimes we internalize the death of loved ones, even to the point of feeling responsible; that somehow we are to blame. I should have been the one to die, I had thought many times.

             He died in a tractor accident, and although my adult brain can clearly see that I was not responsible, the enemy of my soul would like nothing better than to add unnecessary guilt to the already suffering heart of a little girl, unable to understand. So for many years I lived in a way that kept pieces of my heart buried, and depression became my punishment for failing in the role of saving his life.

             It was not until my late twenties that the Lord broke through the false guilt I had been so accustomed to carrying. It was never my role to be the one to save another. I did not have to emotionally die along with my brother as a means of compensating or paying for what I believe I owed my brother.

             A few weeks back I was preparing for a message from the gospel of John. While sharing that message on a Sunday morning I heard these words come out of my lips that did not go through my mind during my preparations.

            “His life and death was not in the hands of the men who held the stones.”

            The sovereignty of God can become a resting place for the soul. It can remove the fears and false guilt that so easily keeps us captive to death. The sovereignty of God does not remove the grief of loss, but it allows us to still fully live in the midst of it. In fact, to fully live in the midst of loss, helps us to fully grieve, as we should.

            Many times the life of Jesus was threatened. Men wanted to stone him, to throw him off a cliff, but he continued to slip through their hands, until the appointed time that God had chosen for Him to die for our sins.

Acts 17:26 says, “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”

 Job 14:5 says, “A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

  We may never understand the timing of death. It was not until I was an adult that I heard the story of my brother who died, telling his Sunday school teacher the Sunday before he died that he was going to see Jesus that week. And he did.

  My life and your life, and the lives of our loved ones, whether long or short, will be determined by God. I can choose to fight against His sovereignty, be angry with Him for His sovereignty, or I can allow it to give me permission to fully live. Courageously saying yes to His call, no matter what I face because I know whose hands govern my days.

Gretchen Teerling