As I was driving home to our flat on Thursday evening, having said goodbye to Jeremy at the pub in Exeter (because my parents were going to drop him at the Vicarage on their way home) and knowing my son lay sedated, tubed and very ill in ICU, this thought crossed my mind, “Can it get any worse?” Then as quickly as it came it was dismissed. Of course it can! Have I got a relative either being held hostage by ISIS or one who has left this country to either fight for or against them? Am I a Christian or another ethnic group being persecuted by ISIS? Am I imprisoned for my beliefs or is my husband/son being imprisoned for theirs? A resounding “no”.
People say, “I don’t know how you cope, Catherine.” It is by keeping everything in perspective that we can walk the difficult path chosen for us. I have (at the moment) a warm, dry and comfortable home. Yes, my husband has a terminal illness but he loves me and we are still sharing life together. Whatever happens, because of Jesus’ death and sacrifice, I know where he will ultimately be and for the same reason, I will be there too one day. Not because of anything I have done but because of Jesus’ grace and mercy. If Jeremy goes to be with Father, I will be ok. Father will look after me and most importantly, have a ministry for me. I have wanted to foster for many years; Jeremy feels we have done our bit raising our five. This is one of the plans I have if I am on my own. We have chosen a house carefully in order for this to be a possibility; I want our new home to bless many.
My son is seriously sick, yes. We do not know what is wrong, yes. He is being wonderfully looked after in a facility we are just so blessed to have on our doorstep. God knows what is going on. Could it be the result of many praying and fasting last Monday that meant he had another two seizures on Thursday? It could be for a positive reason but nobody knows. What I do know, most assuredly, is that God does and is in control.
As I think back on the last (almost) six months, I know we have been through the ringer. I am tired and have not slept well in months; every time I visit Ben I am reminded of the loss and pain his situation brings. I have shed many tears in recent times but the best news is that God has not changed. In all of this pain and uncertainty, God has not changed. He is who he has always been. He has always been in control, he still is. He knows what the future holds and always has done. He still loves me with an everlasting (that means for ever!) love and always will. He has a unique plan for my life, a role for me to play and fufill and nothing, not even death or sickness, can stop that. Praise you Father, thank you so much.
For the past eight years Jeremy and I have been asking big questions about life. Did you know that his terminal diagnosis has brought us so much blessing? We are both excited and scared in equal measure. Sometimes one of these tips the balance. However, I believe God wants to use our situation to overwhelmingly bless and encourage us. We have for such a long time tried to marry up a working pattern where one works weekdays and terms and the other weekends and holidays. I wind down at the end of term for both Christmas and Easter – not so for Jeremy. Our new life will allow much more flexibility for us within the hours and requirements of my job. We will have evenings; I can be home by 4pm and Jeremy won’t be going out to some meeting or function. That is all exciting.
Can we make our budget stretch? We have never paid water rates or council tax at this level before. Our income is reducing significantly. These are all scary. BUT… God has shown us so many signs to encourage us. What are the chances of a conversation with the mother of a child in my class leading to a Saturday job in my favourite shoe shop, that also gives holiday opportunities too? Slim, I would have thought; six days later I had been offered such a job. God’s goodness most definitely. The house was found almost by chance as the criteria we were looking for wasn’t how this house was advertised. Again God moves and we sold our flat in five days. We discovered our mortgage, taken out three years ago, is portable; we had no idea. We are trusting God that he will provide the finance and bring it from all its different sources together on the correct day so we can complete the transaction. This is taking a lot of faith but I am totally trusting that God will deliver on this one when his timing is right. We also are waiting to hear if my contract, that currently runs out in July, is going to be extended. If not we have to trust for a new job for me.
So can it get any worse than this? The bottom of the pit is a long way off yet and even if we did get down there, right to the bottom, there is no pit so deep that God’s love and presence is not already there. As the Psalmist says, there is nowhere we can go that is far from him. We have just so much to be thankful for. God has so blessed us these past few months. We have had so many generous offers of money, food, prayer and love. We realise we have fantastic friends the world over and nothing, not anything, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ and that even in the seemingly hardest times, when we can not walk anymore, God carries us. See Footprints in the Sand.