God in the pain
Two student presbyters at The Queen’s Foundation give testimony to God working for good even through their difficulties
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NRSV)
How Rachel Leather came closer to God
For many people when they encounter difficulties, rather than questioning both the benevolence and existence of God, crises can bring them into closer relationship with God.
This was certainly my experience when my 11-year-old son, Jared, suffered a traumatic head injury. Up until that point I had kept God at a nice safe distance. Then, in recognising my own vulnerability and pain waiting in the children’s hospital, I reached out and discovered God had been there all along.
I knew immediately that this reaching out would be life-changing; it had been a risk to allow God to get through my impenetrable layers. But I started to acknowledge God speaking through word, song and especially other people. I knew God was asking me to give voice to my potential.
Eighteen months later I started training to become a local preacher, and last year all of my family’s lives changed when I became a student presbyter at Queens. I made no bargains with God to heal Jared; this was not quid pro quo. I believe there are some things God cannot do: God could not intervene to stop the accident that caused Jared to fracture his skull.
But I do believe that in all things God works to the greatest good, and out of the most horrific circumstances, God steps in and pours out love.
There have been no promises that life will now be easy, but throughout Jared’s recovery and beginning my training I have found myself noticing God’s presence in a way I previously failed to observe. Because I don’t live in a constant mountain-top state of spiritual ecstasy (who does?), I have learnt to notice God’s presence even when I don’t feel it. To rephrase a very cheesy song, love really is all around.
How Moses John felt God’s personal call
My father is a church leader in India and so from a very young age devotion to Scripture, prayer and church life were normal for me. I have great respect for my father and seeing his Christian faith lived out amidst the opposition of an overwhelmingly Hindu culture inspired me greatly. You could say I inherited my faith from him.
However, it wasn’t until I was involved in a serious motorbike accident when I was twenty, that I was forced to stop and really consider my faith. What would have happened if I had died? Was I following the purpose that God had called me to? During the days of my recovery in hospital I made the decision to follow Jesus, not just for my father, but because I had felt a personal call from God.
Two years later I followed that call to study theology in England. I planned to gain some good training and return to my father’s churches in India. Very often, though, God challenges our pre-conceived ideas and brings us to (uncomfortable) places where our faith is stretched.
In the following years, I met and married my wife Kim and our first child, Joshua, was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Through these and other difficult circumstances we learned that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We also felt the Lord’s call to remain and minister in the UK, including the Spirit’s more recent guiding into ministerial training. I now have four young children of my own and I teach them in the same way as my father tought me. For now their faith is inherited from me, but one day, God willing, it will become a strong and personal calling of their own.
You could use these questions for personal reflection and conversation.
- What are you grateful to God for this week?
- Where do you see God doing things in your life, or in other people’s lives?
- When and where have you encountered God?
- How did you come to faith?
- What makes you feel close to God?