Living through the Death of a Brother

by Andrew Soto

That Terrible Day

Yesterday marked the four year anniversary of my worst-lived day...the day heroin took the life of my brother. I recall the day it happened...it was a Thursday. I woke up before my alarm to get ready for work when I received a call from my father. A son never wants to hear his dad’s voice so broken, “Willy’s dead! Come over.” Once I hung up the phone, I paced around my room in disbelief for what seemed an eternity. On the drive over I prayed for anything else; I prayed that I would wake up; I prayed that my dad was mistaken. When I arrived at the house I was greeted by faces wrenched by sorrow. My brother accidentally overdosed. All I could do was be strong for them. I took upon myself the terrible duty of informing everyone starting with my mother and sister, followed by aunts and uncles and close family friends. The day was filled with weeping and sadness.

Grace & Understanding

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God did not pull me out of the suffering, He walked me through it. He assured me that He would continue to help and strengthen my faith. Faith has never really been a struggle for me. I am not one to doubt God’s goodness, His plan, or even His existence. My difficulty resides in wading through the hurt of life, but death changed how I read and receive the words of the Bible. My heart is much more tender now, and I am much more vulnerable to the Holy Spirit. As I read the holy accounts of the past, when Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21),” tears. When Joseph is reunited with his father Jacob, “As soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept a long time (Gen. 46:29),” tears. When one of the criminals asks Jesus to remember him and Jesus replies, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43),” tears.
I offered up many prayers to the LORD for resurrection. I boldly asked God to bring my brother back from the dead. I knew it was within His power. Each day that passed was a day that God was assuring me that though I may want him back, my brother is plenty happy where he is. I know because my brother was a Christian. While a drug temporarily took hold of his life, Scripture tells us that “neither death, nor life...nor any created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”

The Outcome

So, as I reflect back, what am I to make of all this? I have concluded that God is purposing me to be a pillar - a load-bearing support which can carry a substantial amount of weight. Jesus says, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God (Rev. 3:12).” In Galatians 2:9, we read that James, Peter, and John were thought of as “pillars.” I believe that we persevere through trials and temptations so that we can help others in tough situations. If it is true that we “ought to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:6),” then we should also endeavor to bear the burdens of others and try to give them rest (Matt. 11:28-30).