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A Brother's Long Journey to Healing

In his spiritual memoir A Stranger in the House of God, author and Moody Bible Institute professor John Koessler tells the story of his younger brother George. Since childhood, George's life consisted of heartache after heartache: because of a collapsed lung shortly after birth, he struggled with a learning disability that made him the butt of far too many jokes—even from his own family; his first wife cheated on him after being married for less than a year; he was permanently laid off from the only job he knew how to do well at the time. As the pain snowballed, George hit rock bottom. Because he hadn't kept in touch with George, Koessler was unaware of what was going on in his brother's life. A literal wake-up call concerning George's condition came late one night. Koessler writes:

I awoke from a sound sleep with a sense of dread, compelled to pray for my brother. In particular, I felt impressed to ask God to spare his life. The longer I prayed, the more anxious I became, sensing George was in some kind of grave danger…
A week later I got a phone call from my father. My brother's roommate contacted him saying George had tried to commit suicide. Despondent over his life, he slit his wrists with a kitchen knife. "He really meant business," my father said. "If his roommate had come fifteen minutes later, it would have been too late"…
My brother's roommate discovered him about the same time I was asking God to spare George's life.

With the encouragement of family and friends, George partnered with God to put his life back together. He learned how to cope with his learning disability and overcame his depression with the help of medicine. He worked difficult, trying hours as an emergency medical technician in order to earn a college degree—which he earned with honors. All the while, he was taking the all-important steps toward a life of faith. After meeting his second wife, Jan, at a church function, George committed his life to Christ.

George's transformation stirred in him a deep desire to serve others spiritually. This man, weighed down for so long by such profound pain, would eventually become the chaplain for the Detroit Fire Department. Koessler closes the chapter concerning his brother with these words about George:

He doesn't regret the difficulties he has faced. He doesn't see them as unfortunate twists of fate or himself as a victim of circumstance. He sees them as tools wielded by the gracious hand of God. "Without them," he says, "I wouldn't be the person I am today."
George doesn't consider any of his accomplishments remarkable. "I'm just a survivor," he says. "I'm no hero." Perhaps not to others. Certainly not to himself. But he is to me.

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