RiseVibes: My Brother’s Shadows By Hayley Reynolds
This was a tough but rewarding read – one that drew me in emotionally and spiritually. It is Hayley Reynold’s honest, intimate and often graphic account of her younger brother Wayne’s battle with leukaemia and associated complications. At times I struggled to come to terms with the tragedy that was unfolding at the turn of each page.
If you have every questioned where God is in the midst of suffering, or you want to provide genuine support to someone who is suffering, this is a book you must read. It still leaves many questions unanswered, but it presents an honest account of a family’s struggle as they draw strength from scripture while they negotiate the full gamut of emotions and reactions to Wayne’s worsening condition.
Hayley doesn’t sugar coat anything, and she certainly avoids platitudes to the extent of criticizing some of the responses she and her family received from Christian friends. It is a heart wrenching, tear prompting, grief sharing account.
In addition to leukaemia, Wayne battled an aggressive fungal infection and other sometimes frightening complications. Despite this, 16 year old Wayne’s faith was unshakable ‘God’s glory is far more important than my suffering’.
The book highlights how the support of community, prayer and the closeness of family are the things that sustain us most through harrowing times.
Hayley shares honestly about her turmoil as a 22 year old who had her plans for life unfolding before her, then had to walk away from them because of her brother’s illness. She is candid about her struggle to maintain her faith in the midst of it all, believing Wayne would be healed and trying to do what she could to help her brother and her parents through.
‘Wanting to find some sense in all the madness, I was left only with unanswered questions.’
So many times she felt that God had abandoned them, at the same time somehow knowing that they needed to keep worshipping Him. What in the world was God doing? Hayley describes how Wayne faced his dire situation with determination, humour and the belief that however bad the circumstances, God was still in control.
The book concludes with a reflection on suffering as evil that results from humankind’s falling away from God – suffering was something God never intended for us.
In My Brother’s Shadows, Hayley shares her view on faith, healing and unanswered prayer. Her family did not see the miracle they were hoping for, but Hayley’s faith, rather than being destroyed when her brother died, was ultimately saved.
‘My Brother’s Shadows: a journey of faith in the midst of tragedy’ is published by Acorn Press and can be purchased at www.acornpress.net.au. RRP $19.95 (also available in eBook format).
Reviewer: Wendy Rush