TITLE: To Love, To Lose, To Gain
By Brandi Roberts
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This was the last thing I wanted to remember: the day my sister lost her life was the day I gave up all hope in Him. Yet, I found myself finding hope as I relived those memories.
The two of us clung to each other as we stood, awaiting our fate. It was cold in that prison. The heavily masked officers argued in their own tongue between themselves, then, as if coming to a resolve, nodded and proceeded toward us.
"One of you must die." The tall, broad-shouldered officer announced. "And you get to decide which of you lives."
"Let her live!" Aliyah cried out. I was shocked. Until then, my sister had shown little regard for my well-being, and now she was offering her own life in sacrifice for mine.
"No, take me!" I argued, then I looked at her. "You have so much more to live for. Think about Avi!" The week before we were kidnapped, my sister and her boyfriend Avi committed their lives to each other in the presence of God and our small family.
"Avi would understand, Bree." Her voice filled with the tears that were welling up in her.
"Decide!" The officer barked at us. "Now!" He raised his gun.
My sister let go of me, and took a step ahead. She looked up at her kidnappers with a smile.
"I forgive you, and Jesus does, too." She put her head down, as if praying.
Not a moment later, the gun shot rung through my ears and my sister's lifeless body dropped to the ground. I stood silently, in horror at what had just taken place. At that moment, I hated God. Rage filled my entire being and I attacked the guard who had shot my sister.
The guards laughed at my vain attempt to inflict pain upon them. "It's just you, now, sweetheart." One of them chided, as he grabbed my arms, and held them. All of a sudden I felt extreme pain, then all went dark.
I awoke on the floor of my tiny cell, and tried to recall what had happened. The memory of my sister being shot flooded into my brain, and the tears began to flow. I didn't understand. Why? Why did she do that for me? Anger crept up into my throat, tempting me to yell, to scream, to curse. My thoughts drew to God. <i>I hate you!</i> I screamed inwardly. <i>You killed my sister! You let her die and I'll never forgive you!</i> I wiped the tears from my eyes, as bitterness took the place of sorrow and anger, and I succumbed to it.
It was the one year anniversary of my sister's death, and the first day I'd seen myself since the two of us had been kidnapped. The IDF had stumbled across the deserted prison and freed me from my captors. I was now standing in front of a mirror in a single room flat in Tiberias, looking at myself. Dirty, and thin from malnourishment, I winced from my appearance. What was that? I caught a glimpse of my sister in the reflection, but realizing it was just my eyes, I was saddened. Questions ran through my mind. <i>How could a loving God take a beautiful young girl's life? How could He take my sister's life?</i> My eyes gazed up at a paper tacked above the mirror: <i>For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.</i> As I recalled that verse in Philippians, a solitary tear made it's way down my cheek, and I crumpled to the floor. Realizing that my sister's death had been my gain, my hope returned.
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