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Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Storms

By Alison Hardy, Jubilee Church Wirral

This image of New Brighton in one of the recent storms reminded me of a hymn that we used to sing in the church I went to as a teenager.

As teenagers we always groaned when they got out the ‘redemption hymnal’ instead of singing a ‘chorus’ – I’m not going to lie, some of those hymns went on forever!!  But as I’ve grown older I’ve realised that those old hymns are filled with amazing truth.  Watching the storms unfold over New Brighton reminded me of these hymn lyrics.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

My husband Andrew and I have been through many seasons in our lives, seasons where we’ve known financial blessings and seasons when we have had financial lack. Times when things have gone well in our family and times when things have been a real trial in our family. Times when I’ve felt so close to God and times when I’ve felt He was a million miles away.

About 13 years ago, the company Andrew was contracting for closed its UK offices, leaving Andrew unemployed. I’d given up work after we had had Naomi. It was the middle of a recession and Andrew couldn’t get another job.  He was offered the opportunity to do a PhD which he took, but that was the beginning of four very stressful years. His mental health was affected, his mum was becoming more frail and elderly and there was difficult stuff going on in our own family.

It was during this time that I started volunteering and then working for Wirral Youth for Christ. After four years Andrew needed, for the sake of his mental health, to step back from his PhD and, to cut a long story short, we went through several years of not really having enough money to live on.

Andrew wasn’t working, I was working part-time for a Christian charity and, added to this we and lots of stressful things going on in our family.  My faith was battered. Why was God allowing us to go through storm after storm?  I felt battered on all sides, I remember feeling so despondent.

I remember one day walking the dog through the cemetery and just thinking is this it, is this my life until I die, never having enough money and watching my family struggle in so many ways?

Don’t get me wrong, God was so faithful to us in those times and provided for us in so many amazing ways, but I was emotionally and spiritually exhausted from it.  But God is faithful, and He promises us that He uses all things for good.

The hymn asks “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life …. Will your anchor drift or firm remain?”

What I know is that while my faith has been tried, God is my anchor and He remains firm, He keeps my soul steadfast and sure, whilst the billows roll.

You might wonder why I’m telling you all this. Well, a few weeks ago in church during the worship I was reflecting on those tough times and how I thought that things would never change and how God has been faithful to us even when I wavered and felt tossed about.

The last 3 years have seen a lot of change. Miraculously, Andrew got a job, I left my job to do a Masters degree, and now I have started a full-time paid training role with CAMHS. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of storms in our lives, both personal and those going in in the world around us.

I wrote most of this during the worship last Sunday (sorry Vern) whilst singing

Our God reigns over all things
Now and forever
The first and last word will always be His

Our God reigns over sickness, over our families, over our jobs, over our finances, over our doubts, over our fears, and over the storms.

But, I asked myself, do I allow Him to rule over my thoughts, my fears?

Do I trust Him in all the seasons of my life, or just when things are going well?

The Phatfish song “There is a day” says

Though trouble’s hard,
It’s only momentary
And it’s achieving
Our future glory

We will meet Him in the air
And then we will be like Him
For we will see Him, as He is
Oh yeah!

Then all hurt and pain will cease
And we’ll be with Him forever

What a promise! Our life in this world may be filled with storms and trials, but it is temporary. One day we will meet Him face to face and all hurt and pain will cease.

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Alison Hardy of Jubilee Church Wirral, with her husband Andrew

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