Pit Dweller-Part 2: Pit Vipers

Pit Dweller Series Summary

A woman's fearful face, surrounded by darkness.All of us have walked in dark places at one time or another. When a life-altering tragedy occurs, it’s like a sinkhole suddenly collapses the sunny sidewalk beneath us. Dropping into a black pit filled with despair, fear and grief, we become reluctant pit dwellers.

 In December 2012, my brother Chris attempted suicide; he died five days later. The Pit Dweller Series is my testimony of the Lord’s goodness during that dark time.

Early Morning Phone Call

It began with an early morning phone call at 6:30 am. A Michigan police officer called to say that my brother Chris was critically injured and being rushed to the emergency room. As I frantically phoned two different hospitals for more information, someone told me that it hadn’t been an accident. My older brother had tried to kill himself.

In an instant my sunlit life plunged into a dark pit of agony. Waiting for me down in the darkness were the pit vipers.

The Pit Vipers

What are pit vipers?

“Pit vipers” are what I call the source of the dark emotions that swamp us during any tragedy or heartbreak. Some feelings flow out naturally in a crisis, like fear or anxiety or confusion. But other emotions scar our souls—like guilt about past failures and harsh words.

Head and body of a poisonous snake.These poisonous snakes always strike during life’s most traumatic moments. Immediately the pit viper’s venom starts to corrosively burn in toward the heart. Unchecked, the damage done by the vipers’ poison can cause life-long pain.

After that first phone call, guilt, anguish and panic immediately swamped me. The pit vipers’ fangs bit deep and their poison flooded in.  I hadn’t prayed enough! Over the last few months the Holy Spirit had been nudging me to fast and pray for Chris, but I’d been too lazy to pray much and I had always hated fasting.

My atheist brother had stopped answering his phone, cutting off all contact—but he’d done that often in the past. Living four states away in North Carolina, there wasn’t much I could do. I’d half-decided I would to fly to Michigan in March and personally pound on his door until he opened it.

But now it was too late!

Venom and Anti-venom

Whenever pit vipers strike, the Holy Spirit has His anti-venom prepared and ready. That first morning my emotional “snake bites” were successfully treated and the poison neutralized.

After getting a tender, comforting hug from my husband Ralph, I phoned Alice, a Christian mentor of mine. She verbally sliced through three of Satan’s lies at once.

Viper poison #1: “I should have done more!”

Overwhelming poisonous guilt flooded into my soul’s veins, causing great mental anguish. I started blaming myself for my brother’s suicide.

Antidote #1, spoken by Alice: “Maureen, Chris decided to do this. It was his choice.”

Yes. People make secret, self-destructive choices all the time. We have no ability to stop them.

I loved my brother very much; but I couldn’t save him from himself. In the end, Chris actively chose suicide. He carefully planned out the time, place and method to prevent any interference.

There are clear indications that when the pain became excruciating, Chris changed his mind—but it was too late. He couldn’t stop what he’d set in motion.

Yet at 4 in the morning a passing motorist saw my brother in trouble and called 911. My husband claims the driver was really an angel. Without the swift response of the rescue workers, my brother would have died in a few minutes.

Those 4 extra days I spent with Chris in the ICU, I owe to the quick professional intervention of the local police, the paramedics and the medical staff of two hospitals.

I owe the most to the Holy Spirit, who caused a person to drive down that street at just the right moment. Ten minutes earlier, nothing would have attracted the driver’s attention. Ten minutes later and Chris would have died before reaching the Emergency Room.

Thanks to God, that driver kept a divine appointment around 4 in the morning and placed a call to 911.

Close-up of rattler's head, with a forked tongue sticking out.Viper poison #2: I should have fasted and prayed more!

True. I will never know what God would have done in Chris’ life if I had taken the Holy Spirit’s nudges seriously. This remains my biggest failure. Realizing this could have emotionally crippled me.

Antidote #2, spoken by Alice: “Maureen, how often have you prayed and surrendered Chris into God’s hands?” 

Times without number.

I even remember praying with Alice over the phone, while visiting Michigan nine months earlier.

My brother didn’t know Jesus Christ; he was bitter about life, depressed and suicidal. More than anything I wanted Chris to experience the inner healing and restoration the Redeemer had given me. To break free of the depression and find a life worth living for.

Viper Poison #3: There was an unacknowledged fear in my heart that it was too late. I’d lost my brother and Satan had won.

The Holy Spirit knew I needed an anti-venom shot for Satan’s third lie too, even if I wasn’t consciously aware of believing his untruth.

Antidote #3, spoken by Alice: “Maureen, God is still working in Chris’ life; He hasn’t stopped.”

Immediately, faith and hope rushed into my heart, washing away the despair. Yes! My brother was still alive! And God was still working.

I remember declaring in my heart, “Satan, you’ve had your innings—now it’s God’s turn.”

In three quick sentences, the Holy Spirit had used Alice to heal the damage the devil was trying to inflict. Still shaky and grieving, at my husband’s urging I called our pastor and met him at the church. After sharing everything I knew about Chris’ injuries, we prayed, and Jesus sent a shaft of sunlight into my darkened pit. Emotionally raw as I was, I couldn’t grasp it then, but Pastor Josh’s words comforted me over the next few critical days.

“Maureen, you’re a good sister.”

I needed those words and I knew they were true. But at that moment, I couldn’t receive them.

Images from Pixabay.com.

 

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