With a devastating end to an already difficult 2020, the timing of our family’s escape was more than a nice coincidence. It was ordained. As if God Himself orchestrated the details and caused it to happen precisely when and how it did. From beginning to end, God has been near, speaking truth in my ear and making His presence known. (Psalm 139) I have felt your prayers.
Word for 2021
Before and after the shocking death of my brother Doug on Christmas eve, I’ve been contemplating a word for 2021. During times of both plea-ful praying and angry ranting, the word that keeps surfacing is BELIEVE. And each day I’ve considered the word as my compass, something has happened to reinforce how appropriate it is. Like a diamond being held up to the light, it has a million facets. I suspect it will take weeks and months to fully appreciate what the Holy Spirit has for me with this word as my escort through 2021. For starters, virtually everything hinges on belief. Death versus life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And it’s that very place that the enemy has tried to gain a foothold, haunting me with questions about my brother’s salvation.
History with my brother Doug
My brother Doug and I grew up together. He was smarter, more handsome, more popular and in my childhood memory better than me in every way. One class behind him, I hid in his shadow.
At State College High School in the 70s band kids were cool. (You’ll have to trust me.) Doug played sax in the jazz band, but it was his stint as high-stepping drum major that drove a social wedge between us. Adding to his popularity, he owned the coolest car on campus, a red 1954 Desoto. I was a mediocre flute player, better at twirling my instrument than actually playing it. For self-preservation, this was the era when my eye-rolling sibling disinterest took root. I tired of kids wanting access to my brother through me. My identity felt stuck as Doug’s ugly-duckling pest of a sister.
We both attended Penn State but went in opposite directions. Doug was the socially confident Acacia frat boy who never wavered from his pursuit of medicine. In contrast even though determined to get all A’s, I was the awkward stress case, unsure what to pursue academically and fearful of the college social scene.
Doug stayed in his lane and became a hugely successful and loved orthopedic surgeon, right on schedule. And even though my path was not straight, I found my niche in college too — campus ministry and a heart for Jesus seeking adventure as an international marketing major.
The Hardest Truth…
Sure I have regrets. There was too much left un-said. And I mourn the loss of what could have been. But the hardest truth of Doug’s passing is that I don’t know where he stood with the Lord. To read the condolences from so many who loved him, I’m moved. His character and the impact he had on his patients and community is inspiring. And even though he would humbly deny the accolades, it gives me pause. Doug was a great man.
After Ian’s accident, my relationship with Doug deepened dramatically. More than a brother, he had an inside track to my mother’s heart and listened to my angst and advised where appropriate. Not one for much small talk, we always got right to the heart of the matter. Call day or night Doug offered. And no question was off limits. We discussed subjects not typically or comfortably discussed. Life and death medical decisions, quality of life judgements, and even eternity and God.
Black and White vs. Color
We sometimes disagreed, but respected one another. Our conversations while comforting, tested me. He saw black and white and statistics and the rational limitations of medicine. Desperate for an alternative, I saw color and had a name for the vast chasm, faith. What I remember most about that season, was Doug’s compassion and kindness. He made it clear he would have done anything for Ian, me and what we faced. If only money could fix a brain injury.
But now that Doug is gone, it is as if the color is gone. And I’m saddened and even angered over a heart full of black and white. But slowly and surely, as I’ve believed God at His word, the Holy Spirit has been adding color.
Genesis 18:25 …Will not the judge of all the earth do right.
John 20:29 …”Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Right End to the Story
The way I understand it, instead of demanding evidence I can see, God is asking me to trust His unchanging character and believe Him for the right end of the story. I can’t see or know everything God can see and know. And salvation isn’t a neat and tidy formula.
I take comfort in the fact that the door of repentance is kept wide open. Remember the penitent thief crucified beside Jesus? In his last breath, he believed Christ and was promised paradise. (Luke 23:42) Hope is alive.
God’s Got This Too
Please don’t misunderstand… I don’t take faith in God lightly and salvation is by grace alone through faith, not by works. (Ephesians 2:8,9) But ultimately, God’s Got This too. The God Doug learned about from our faithful parents and weekly church attendance, the God who loves Doug more than I or any human could. The God who is all knowing, all gracious and all merciful is the final judge. I believe He’ll get it right.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”
A New Faint Picture
When we choose to believe, it is then we see. Thankfully, while it still hurts, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a faint picture has formed. My Daddy, with his warm welcoming ear to ear grin, is showing Doug around the place. Together they revel in a new colorful reality of perfect love. No sin or suffering, no sorrow or pain. Doug’s questions have been satisfied and I see contentment on his face.
Believing is Seeing
Ironic isn’t it…seeing isn’t believing. Rather it’s the other way around. Believing is seeing. “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”
Dear Merciful Father, I praise you for the gift of eternal life. Forgive me for my need for evidence. Cause me to trust your character which keeps hope alive. Help me to believe so that I’m able to see. Thank you for my brother Doug and how his life impacted mine. May this tragic loss not be wasted. Amen.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Debbie your way with words are beautiful yes none of us know for sure but we can trust in the belief that we know God is waiting there for us and for anyone that Believes. Thanks so much for sharing your feelings. Hugs
Thank you Dottie.
Barbara Schwyzer says
What a very very tough year for you. So sorry for the losses of your father and brother. Death is so difficult and the ability to BELIEVE is such a gift. Thank you for your words.
Thank you Barbara
So very sorry for the loss of your brother. Your words were a wonderful tribute to him 🥰
Thank you Cinda.
Such painful loss in 2020, your father and brother, it’s gut wrenching. Thank you for your message of hope Deb – believing is seeing. Lifting the Roeshot and Hucke families in our prayers
Thank you Mary.
Anne kole says
My heart aches for you, Debbie. Such losses are gut wrenching. You’ve expressed beautifully not only your love for your brother, but your love for God. Belief. Trust. Hope. In the right One.
I am Praying that God will hold you close. He’s the God of all comfort and always does what is right and good. Love you Debbie. ♥️
Thank you Anne. Well said. He is the God of all comfort. I appreciate you.
leslie rossillon says
I’m so sorry about the sudden loss of your brother. I appreciate all that you shared, but mostly your belief! May God grant you peace
Thank you Leslie. Peace that passes all understanding is such a gift.
Laura Gring says
I truly fell your pain. What an unexpected loss for your whole family. I only met your brother a couple of times, but was impressed by his love for his daughters and his kindness to David & I. God is sovereign and knew Doug’s heart!♥️
Amen Laura. Thank you. It was cathartic to write.
Glenda Demmie says
Thank you Debbie for allowing God to speak so powerfully through you revealing His Truth in both “black and white” and “loving color for” all who believe. May God continue to comfort your family through your profound insights from His Holy Word.
Thanks Glenda. A broken vessel. But thank you.
Dave & Cathy Philips says
Dear Deb (and Doug!): We can’t believe what you have been through in the past couple of years: your losses, your discouragements, your disappointments! Thanks for your confidence, through it all, that God’s got this! And thanks for sharing your growing understanding of how this works in real life. We resonate to, and share, your concern about the spiritual safety of loved ones. You’ve offered us a challenge to grow beyond our fears and to trust the Judge of all the earth who will certainly do what is right because He is love. God bless and keep you both!
In His love and grace,
Dave and Cathy Philips
Thank you Dave and Cathy. Yes! it it my prayer that my tribute may compel a sense of urgency for a heart for our prodigals. I for one believe this extra difficult times for our country and world is because God is on the move to waken the church. Game on!
So sorry for your loss Debbie. God Bless you and your family!
Thank you Gail.
What a beautiful tribute, Debbie. I am so sorry for your loss and I know you will heal and cope as you always do.
Thank you Kerry.
So sorry for your loss, Debbie. Your blog was wonderful and much needed for myself. I need to Believe when times are difficult.
Thank you Emmy.
Betsy Everett says
As always, very, very moving words Debbie. I especially appreciated your comment about your brother being welcomed into heaven by your dad.
Even though my daughter never admitted she believed in Jesus, I know she is there now! We have to trust in our Loving Father and Grace, that those we love will be with us there.
I don’t think we can know… but we can hope and trust. God is gracious indeed.
My heart aches for you and all of your family. May your faith sustain you in this time of sorrow. Your words are beautiful and comforting to me. God bless you
Thank you Duane.
Meghan Roeshot says
Thank you so much for sharing all of this Debbie. You are really an amazing writer, I admire that. A beautiful tribute to the relationship between you and Doug. You shared so much, and I know he loved his whole family.
Big hugs, Meg
Thank you Meg. It was cathartic to write it. And yes… he did love us all.
Liz Bass says
I’m so sorry for your losses Debbie. We are all glad to have seen 2020 come to a close, but we still have our walk to complete. Your faith and way with words bring help and comfort to us all. May the hole in your heart heal with loving memories of Doug. It has to be comforting knowing your dad and brother are hand in hand walking with Jesus.
Amen Liz. Thank you.
Berta Pitzer says
WOW!! What a powerful Word from you, who’s suffered such loss, yet reveal your vulnerabilities to us so we can BELIEVE and SEE God working good through all circumstances. I join the others in thanking for your sharing His Word and.I, too offer condolences to your whole family.
May all of us AWAKEN to God’s call to advance and establish His Kingdom in the hearts of those around us! Come Holy Spirit!
Amen Berta! Thank you for your faithful encouragement. Come Holy Spirit.