This Friday, my big brother (yes, despite my maturity, he is older than me. Ha!), is graduating with his PhD is biblical counseling. It’s a proud moment for him and our entire family. Over 12 years ago, my brother went to rehab and got sober. It changed his whole life. As a result, he has had a passion to minister to addicts and help those who are trapped in addiction.
Until he told our family he needed help, I had no idea my brother was strung out on drugs and abusing alcohol. It was during that season of his life, I remember talking to him about things he had hoped for in life. One of the things he wanted to accomplish was getting his degree. It took a while, but I am so proud of him for going above and beyond not just one degree, but three. It’s an amazing accomplishment and he’s come such a long way from where he was to where he is today. Only God can do that.
And yet, in this midst of all of this, I have been struggling. Struggling to return to a place that has recently been a source of much hurt and pain to our family. My brother isn’t just graduating from seminary, he’s graduating from the same seminary that we are no longer a part of. A seminary that Shelby most likely will never get to graduate from or return to for future studies.
A few weeks ago my brother told me that I didn’t have to go to his graduation. He knew how hard it would be for me so he didn’t expect me to be there. It would be okay if I sat this one out.
I was so relieved. I hadn’t even told him I was struggling, but hearing him extend a “free pass” to me was a relief…until I realized I wouldn’t get to celebrate this great accomplishment with the rest of my family.
And then I was reminded of this verse:
Rejoice with those who rejoiceRomans 12:15
How can you rejoice when there is also a tinge of pain still lingering?
Look to the cross.
The cross is the perfect symbol of both sorrow and love mingled together. It’s a symbol of the pain and agony our Savior suffered as he bled and died for our sins, but it is also a sign of his great love and mercy for the whole world.
Don’t let others steal your joy. Don’t give them the power to rob you of celebrating victorious moments.
Remember the story doesn’t end on the cross, it ended with an empty grave. Just like sin and death were conquered on the cross, conquer your greatest fears and deepest pains by looking to the only One who is able to restore and heal.
And if you remember, please pray for me this Friday as I plan on attending my brother’s graduation. To walk in love and forgiveness. That the Lord’s peace would go before me, with me and behind me. That I would find great strength and courage to face one of my biggest fears. That I would truly and wholeheartedly be able to rejoice on this joyous occasion.