December 19, 2016
I have something that is weighing very heavily on my heart, hopefully you can shed some light on this matter.
My mother, brother and I got saved in the early eighties, my brother and I are now in our fifties. We have at best had an on and off relationship with the Lord, except my mother, who loves the Lord very much.
My brother drifted away from the Lord at one stage but always kept a certain degree of faith.
My mother has suddenly developed dementia (she is 76). She had a very trying marriage with my step father (who passed away a few years ago) and suffered with depression.
My brother has taken it very hard and says that if this is how the Lord looks after his own then he wants nothing more to do with Him. He cites Scripture pertaining to how God is love and such Scriptures as “surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives” and that if this is the way the Lord loves us and keeps his promises then he is finished with Him.
I hope and pray that he is only angry and will overcome his feelings.
Could you please help?
Thank you for your letter. I am glad you wrote.
“Oh dear” is the first thing that comes to mind. This may sound a bit harsh, but bear with me. You know, Alan, sometimes people who are not very committed to the Lord look for any excuse why not to walk with Him. It sounds to me like your brother may be doing just that. Notice he never mentioned that the Lord Jesus also said that we will have tribulation in this life. It is easy to cherry pick Scripture to suit one’s own desires.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We cannot understand many things in this life, but we know the Lord is faithful. Clearly, He is allowing your mom’s condition—but for her, it may be a way of not having to think about all she has endured; maybe her mind is saying, “I have had enough, I need a break.” And the LORD is allowing her to have that break.
Blaming God for her problems is so wrong. Your brother’s anger is understandable to a point. But considering he has not been sold-out for the Lord in any way, blaming God feeds his own wobbly relationship with Him; a perfect excuse to stay in the flesh and not surrender to Him, and not live God’s will for his life. The Lord hates a lukewarm attitude:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
If we give your brother the benefit of the doubt, he may very well be genuinely confused. Since he does not fully know or understand the teachings of the Bible—the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), then it does not take much for the enemy—the devil—to gain a foothold in his life.
The human condition can be so disappointing. The Blame Game is so prevalent in our culture. We see it in the world, and sadly, also in Christian ministries. I am always reminded WHY the Lord Jesus stepped out of eternity—so He could save us from ourselves!
Another point related to this which I would like to address is that of causing and allowing division in families, ministries, relationships, etc. All of this comes down to self-serving pride; the very first sin, and it goes way back to when Lucifer defected and rebelled against our holy God—when he thought he could be God. Not a chance! After the Tribulation he will be imprisoned in the abyss and will find out how powerless he really is.
But right now he roams around the earth looking for whom he can devour. All the more reason to get right with the Lord and not become a casualty of his wicked and deadly agenda.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (2 Peter 5:8).
These same power/control dynamics persist and have continued for thousands of years. Mankind’s ongoing quest for power and control is the antithesis of godly living. It is allowing the flesh to rule rebelliously against the Lord Jesus. Tragically, some people use the Lord as a cover to achieve ulterior motives..
Apparently they are either mentally and emotionally unstable or they are unsaved interlopers who seek to cause trouble all the while acting piously in front of others. Unless one sincerely seeks the Lord without malice and hatred for others in one’s heart, then it is tough to have a genuine abiding relationship with the Lord of the universe.
From your letter, Alan, what comes across strongly to me is this: Sometimes God will create or allow a situation in order to draw us closer to him. Where do you stand with the Lord today? Do you have a strong personal relationship with him or are you only a few steps ahead of your brother? I don’t say this to offend you, but to challenge you take a look at where you stand with the Lord.
Faith can seem to be a very elusive idea but that is what the Lord Jesus asks of us.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
Faith comes by hearing and studying the Word of God. If we don’t study our Bibles and communicate with Him daily through prayer, we cannot grow in the Lord or understand his will for our lives.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Even as born-again believers our human intellects are so inferior to God’s awesome power that we must trust Him and know that regardless of what is going on around us in the physical world, that He is working in the spiritual realm on our behalf. But without a true personal born-again relationship with Him we cannot discern what we should do when the going gets tough. Our trust must be in Him and not in the ways of the world:
“… that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).
Alan, your concern about your brother shows that you are a caring person. If you have a fairly good relationship with him, perhaps you can reason with him and share some of the points I have made here, to you.
It would be a tragedy if your brother or you fell away from the Lord completely because of your mother’s condition. This is a time to pull together as a family and ask the Lord to intervene and give you His grace to deal with your given circumstances. Our Lord is in the miracle business and all things are possible with Him. This may be the beginning of drawing you and your brother closer to Him and really walking with Him.
“For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
You might also mention to your brother that your mother should be honored for her faith. It would be so painful for her to think that her son(s) do not love the Lord when she obviously understands what is at stake regarding eternity. Start with one step at a time, and faith will grow.
The Lord Jesus is waiting with open arms to have a deep abiding relationship with you and your brother. Let go of the worldly distractions and spend time communing with Him. The more you get into Scripture, the stronger your faith will be. The same goes for your brother.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
Be an example to your brother and give your all to Christ. In time, your brother is bound to notice and you may be the Bible study buddy that he needs so very much. Be patient with him, earnestly pray for him and ask God to intervene in this matter. He wishes for no one to perish and sometimes He gets our attention by situations that are hard for us to understand.
I have to believe you were all very sincere in your initial proclamation of faith, but with time the distractions of this life and a lack of good biblical teaching has brought you to where you and your brother are today. This can be a new beginning for you both, and a year from now you could look back with genuine gratitude and thank God for giving you a wake-up call to get right with Him.
I urge you to take a leap of faith and get involved in a Bible study locally, seek out true believers and say good-bye to fleeting worldly attractions. Tomorrow is promised to no one; be sure you are saved and if need be—make a new profession of faith with all your heart, mind and soul.
This world is on life-support. Don’t get trapped in its illusions. Instead, “… press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).
Eternity is a very, very long time. Place your faith in His promises and realize this is a fallen world and we live in a spiritual battlefield. Until the Lord takes us out in the Rapture or through death, we will always have problems. Nevertheless, the point to focus on is what Jesus said in this Scripture: “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
Please let me know how things evolve with your brother and mom. It sounds like you need to be the leader of the family and take charge. Be as loving and understanding as possible and ask God to strengthen you. Pray for wisdom and patience. He will not let you down. Something good will come out of this difficult time. What the devil means to harm us, God means for good:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).
God bless you and be with you.
In God’s love,
“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.”