God With Us: His Work In Family Tragedy

Midway through college I was awoken in the middle of the night by several missed calls on my phone. They were all from unknown numbers, and there was only one voicemail. I listened to the voicemail, and my family’s life was never the same. The call was from a friend who lived with my brother in the apartment a few doors down from my boyfriend (now husband), Manny. It was not very coherent, but from what I could make out he was saying he was so sorry for what happened to my brother. He hoped I could forgive him for not helping my brother, and that my brother was a good guy. I had no idea what he was talking about and it was 3 in the morning. 

We were in college, so my boyfriend set out to the party (still raging) to find out what he was talking about. He returned with terrible news. My brother had been arrested. I couldn’t believe it. I sat in Manny’s apartment and cried as his roommates took turns sitting with me while he figured out what to do next. He called my parents (boyfriend of the year), and let them know what was going on. We figured he was in trouble for drinking underage, or something equally minor, so we waited until morning to see what we could do about picking him up. 

When we called the county jail the next morning to figure things out, the news was worse than we could have imagined. He had committed a crime, and the charges against him were so intense that “life in prison” was being thrown around. This was beyond comprehension. I was physically ill. Manny again called my parents, and they rushed to Chico. We hired a lawyer who found out the ins and outs of what was happening, and it didn’t look good. None of this sounded like my brother, and I just knew he was terrified, hurting, and embarrassed and we couldn’t even see him. 

From the minute I got that phone call I was praying, and so was everyone else. I was praying for deliverance for my brother, peace for my family, and miracles for everyone involved. And boy did we see miracles. As the lawyer worked his magic, and the justice system figured out the real story, the sentence went all the way down to six months, and probation for awhile. It was nothing short of miraculous. I got married that year, and miraculously his sentencing hearing was two weeks after my wedding, so he could be there with us.

And even before that horrible phone call miracles were happening. Manny and our best friend Peter were originally enrolled in winter session for school, and they dropped the class mere days before the incident. I don’t know what I would have done if they were gone at school all day during that time; they were solid rocks in the midst of all of the uncertainty. The lawyer we hired was amazing, and truly a blessing as he walked us through this terrible time. We didn’t know him, but a friend of a friend made sure that he was ours. 

This was a terrible time for my brother, for me, for my family, but God was with us every step of the way. We saw his hand even when we couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t think beyond the next step in front of us. And God was with my brother in the fear, in the sorrow, and in the hope that we all knew would be coming. There was protection, provision, redemption, and power every step of this horrible chapter in our lives. And each one of us is better for it. My brother is now married with one kid and one on the way. He is a man of God, leading others in worship, and in study at his church. His wife is amazing, and in every way the woman God wanted for my brother. Had none of this happened, my brother may never have moved home to meet her. 

As you read 1 Samuel 18-23 this week, I hope that you saw God with David. David’s life during this time was far from a walk in the park. Spears were thrown at him and barely missed, he went into fierce battle and was victorious, he received death threats from the king, people died trying to protect him, and Saul’s search for David comes way too close for comfort. All of these instances were terrible and scary; can you even imagine? Saul was king; he had power. This man with power, authority, and an army of men behind him was actively trying to kill David. David was spared, protected, provided for, and looked out for by God.

He sent David a dear friend, Jonathan, who spoke out for him, and made sure to find out all the important details from his father (Saul), so David would be safe. Jonathan also lifted David up when he was down. 1 Samuel 23:16-17 reads “Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. ‘Don’t be afraid…’” When David had been fleeing Saul for months, and was hidden in a cave just waiting for Saul to find and kill him, Jonathan came. He came to lift him up when he was down. The Lord didn’t take away the pain, the fear, and the heartache, he sent a friend to lift him up. 

In chapter 18, David marries Saul’s daughter, Michal. Later, Michal covers for David, and enables him to get a head start from Saul. Michal did not have to do that, but the Lord gave David a good and noble wife who knew who David was, and knew he needed protecting. 

When Saul finds out where David is and sends men to find him, they all get stuck prophesying in the street. And even when Saul goes himself, sure he’ll be able to find David and kill him, the spirit of the Lord falls upon him and he is prophesying as David gets further and further out of his reach. The Lord was there in that street allowing David a little more distance from Saul. The Lord is looking after him, never abandoning him. 

At the very end of chapter 23, we see that Saul is closing in. We see that all looks lost, and David appears to be found, and suddenly the Philistines attack at home, and Saul has to go immediately. At the very last minute, the Lord protected David. 

The Lord was with David as he walked through unspeakable trials. He made him victorious over many battles, he gave him friends and a wife who were honorable, and spoke and acted in truth, and he also kept Saul from David. The Lord saw that David was near death, he saw the evil in Saul trying to catch the good in David, but he was there just ahead of it: a barrier between David and certain death.

The Lord did not keep my family from walking through an incredibly hard time. He didn’t keep the bad thing from happening, but he was there walking beside us holding the devil at bay. He kept my brother safe, he gave us peace, and he created miracles every step of the way. 

I could easily look back and say that the Lord abandoned my brother and allowed him to make that mistake, and allowed us to feel the pain and sorrow of what happened. Instead, I choose to look back through the eyes of God’s grace and protection and see how he was there every step of the way through friends, through the timing, through it all. 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Week 4 Reading: 1 Samuel 24-26

  1. Why didn’t David kill Saul when there were clear opportunities to do so?
  2. What is the result of David refusing to kill Saul? What do you think would have happened if David killed Saul?
  3. Do you believe that good people are rewarded, and bad people are punished? Why or why not?

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