Several years ago I was fortunate to be able to visit good friends who live in Thailand. It was around 3 months after my wife, Rach, had passed away suddenly. The holiday itself was beautiful, time away from the busyness of what my new life had become. ‘New normals’ were being created almost every day for me and the three boys, very often with significant emotional challenge.
So having the opportunity to step out for a week and reflect was so welcome. My friends, Josh and Bank, showed incredible generosity in taking me to a stunning beach resort for a few days whilst there – it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited (although big shout out to that week in Cromer when I was in year 4).
Sitting looking out over the sea one lunchtime, almost from nowhere a tropical storm swept in for an hour or so before passing and the sun returned. For a moment I felt aggrieved that it was going to rain (and I mean really rain!).
I took a photo which showed the approaching storm on one side and beautiful sunshine on the other and was reminded of a verse from the bible I had recently been challenged by whilst studying the book of Job at church. Reflecting on his own tragedy, Job says “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” It’s so easy to have confidence in God “when the sun’s shining down on me”, and yet question where he is in the storms of life.
I’ve reflected before that whilst I don’t always understand the storm, what I do know is that I could never doubt God’s love for me or Rach – and that the cross is the only and most remarkable proof of that I could ever need. The famous poem ‘Footprints in the sand’ nails the experience of the Christian as they walk through it.
As the writer looks back and sees only one set of footprints in the sand, they question where God was in those times. The answer is resounding: ‘God whispered to me, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Thailand was such a beautiful place, one day I would love to go back. I’m so thankful that I could experience such incredible blessings. But I’m infinitely more thankful that even through the darkest of storms I’m not just not alone, I’m being carried.