By Matt and Julie Wilson, Jubilee Church Wirral
he's With us through the trials.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
As we prepared to write this blog we had been reflecting on the past year. The verses Dave used as part of his preach on Sunday seemed very appropriate.
It takes great pressure to turn a worthless piece of carbon into a precious diamond and a huge amount of heat to produce gold.
In our journey through life, the likelihood is we will either be in the midst of a trial, just coming out of one or about to head into one! The truth in the verses above tell us that these trials are what build our perseverance, character and above all faith.
The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many people around the world.
So much illness, suffering and death. We read a sign this week that reminded us that, though we are all in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Some are in expensive yachts, some in small dinghies and others are drowning. As a family we feel hugely blessed to have each other and a home that offers security. However, the past year has had its fair share of trials that we have had to face.
In June, as a result of the Covid lockdown, Matt was informed that Kingsmead School, where he had worked for 18 years, was to close its doors for good at the end of the summer term. Teaching at Kingsmead had been so much more than a job to Matt. It was a school built on Christian principles and had proclaimed the Gospel to its students for 116 years. Students were suddenly left with new schools to find and staff with new jobs to seek.
The summer also offered great uncertainty for Beth and Ben, our eldest two children, who were due to sit 'A’ Levels and GCSEs. Their experience and education at Upton Hall and Kingsmead had been cut short and they were unable to end their time at their schools as they would have liked to. Beth was hoping to get the grades to go to Birmingham to study English and Drama and Ben to go to sixth form college to continue his passion for Art.
Emma had already found Year 9 difficult, missing her best friend who was out in Zambia, and starting some of her GCSE courses. Toby missed the end of Year 6 and the celebration that is tradition as pupils move to secondary school. He was really upset to miss out on the residential trip away with his friends, many of whom were going off to different schools.
Julie had worked all through the first lockdown, teaching children too young to understand the concept of social distancing and in need of great care. In October she went to see a physio about a long-standing problem with ankle pain. X-rays, CT scans and an MRI resulted in a referral to a specialist hospital in Birmingham. A diagnosis of a rare tumour in her ankle bone ensued, with biopsies and ultimately surgery to remove it.
Sometimes it is only when we look back that we see God at work in our lives and this is certainly true for the last year. Throughout the year we prayed for the situations we have mentioned but at other times we struggled in our own strength and forgot about the power of prayer. However, when we were weak God remained strong and in control.
God came through, providing tutoring work for Matt through the year. Beth and Ben got the grades they needed to move to the next stage of their education. Emma was reunited with her best friend and Toby made a successful transition to secondary school, where he quickly made lots of new friends.
Julie felt God’s peace throughout the waiting after the biopsies and the tumour was found to be benign. She felt blessed by the care she received when the skilled doctors and nurses of our great NHS acted quickly to remove the tumour and start the healing process.
God was with her throughout her three stays in hospital and provided opportunities to discuss His love and care with three oncology patients.
This past year has reminded us of the timeless words of Margaret Fishback Powers:
“One night I dreamed…I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. When the last scene of my life shot before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set…I realised that this was at the lowest…times of my life. This always bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma. 'Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk…with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.' He whispered, 'My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testing. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you!'"
We pray that your times of trial will lead you to greater faith in our caring Lord and love for those around you.
Matt and Julie Wilson, Jubilee Church Wirral