Faith in the Darkness
by Phil Parkinson
IT & Systems Coordinator, CBN Europe
We all have a measure of faith. Maybe you believe in Jesus; maybe you are a sceptic or maybe you’re not sure what you believe in. Wherever you are, we all have the desire to trust in something, the question is, in what?
As a Christian, I can say undoubtedly say that I have an unswerving faith in Jesus Christ. My head and heart both know that God is the Author and Perfecter of my faith. But it can be so easy to put my faith in other things – my job, my savings, the safety and security of my house and even my family. Even when things are going well, I can still be distracted from God and His plans for my life, so it is unsurprising that we can lose sight of God in the tough times too.
There is an amazing phrase I’ve heard recently, it says; “We praise Jesus on the mountain top, but we know Him in the valley.” This is also a phrase that has been true for my wife and I for the last few years of our lives.
I met my wife over a doughnut at our church in Manchester back in 2008. We immediately started to connect and within a few short weeks we were dating. After a crazy short time of dating I proposed to her and, amazingly, she said yes! The following year, we were married and starting to figure out this unusual new world called ‘married life’.
We had our fair share of disagreements and learning how to live with each other, as any couple do, but we were largely on the same page with our expectations.
We hadn’t talked much about children at first, other than the typical, “when we have kids, we’ll do x, y and z” conversations. But as we approached the two-year mark, we started to think about when we would begin the process of starting a family (assuming we were grown up enough to be responsible for other little people). At the same time, we were in the process of moving cities to be around my wife’s family and church. So, without too much fear or apprehension, we ‘started trying’.
We praise Jesus on the mountain top, but we know Him in the valley
We weren’t nervous about any difficulties in conceiving. Why would we be? We were both from fairly large families, and most of our siblings (mine in particular) had many children without seemingly any problems at all.
A few months into the process, and with some good old prayer support, we found out we were pregnant. What joy! Now the nerves of impending parenthood began. What school should we send them to? How big a car should we get? When should we start saving for university? All within the first couple of weeks.
We had no issues with the pregnancy – in fact not much to report at all. No cravings or aversions, and we were just counting the days until that glorious scan happened. But just 36 hours before the scan, Beth woke up in the night in tremendous pain. After speaking to the health advice line, we went straight into hospital to see what the problem was. Even in this moment, we were full of faith, knowing our God was in control and would protect both us and our baby.
After some tests, and some peculiar responses by the medical staff, it was revealed to us that our little bean had stopped growing at 6 weeks, and Beth was in fact going through the process of ‘passing’ this little embryo through her system.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘the bottom fell out of our world.’ Well, it did. We didn’t know what to do. Our excitement and joyful anticipation turned to deep despair and mourning. How could this happen? Had we done something wrong? Had God changed His mind? Was He trying to teach us a lesson?
We knew that none of those questions were true, but in the moment, your brain goes into overdrive and tries to rationalise everything, searching for the possible answers.
We slowly got back on our feet, and in the months that followed, our faith grew stronger, knowing that this wasn’t the end of the story. Whatever God’s intentions, He was on His throne, and we were to serve Him with all our passion.
We continued to serve in our church over the coming months and found out that we were pregnant again. Straight away, we started praying for this baby; having faith that God wouldn’t let anything happen again. But it did. We went through the pain of losing another child.
At this point, while I can say that our faith in God was still pretty solid, I started to question whether He actually wanted us to have children at all. Did He even care about this specific area of my life?
It began to put pressure on our marriage. We went through a season of miscommunication, resentment and depression, although from the outside you probably wouldn’t have noticed too much.
With the help of some great friends and leaders in our church, we got ourselves back on track and started focusing on our future. But what did that look like? Try as I might, I was struggling to see children in it.
We had an opportunity to church-plant in Mombasa, Kenya. This was a fantastic year of our lives, developing our leadership, character and our marriage. Our pastors there challenged us to start investigating our fertility, as we hadn’t gotten pregnant since our second miscarriage, which was now 3 years previous. We were nervous at first, not wanting to hear more bad news, but we took some steps to investigate what was going on.
We spoke to a great specialist, who immediately ruled out several things that were at the back of our minds. I remember saying to God that I trusted Him, that I knew that it was ultimately His prerogative as to the outcome, but it was almost like I’d given up.
We headed back to the UK once more, excited in some ways about another fresh start, but also feeling a bit empty as we still didn’t know what was happening. After a year of getting back on our feet with jobs, a home and a rhythm of life, we found out we were pregnant again. This was incredible, but it was a fight to have joy in this situation, praying that this time we would go full term.
People around us prayed like never before and after each visit to the hospital for monitoring, our excitement grew. Could this be the one that stuck?
The answer was ‘yes’. We had our little girl last summer, and she is a continual source of joy and wonder.
I suppose it’s easy to be on this side of the story and say that we always knew God would come through for us. But it’s never that simple. I wonder if we would have the strength of character and the level of faith we have now, without those testing times. We may never understand why those miscarriages happened, but I trust in His bigger plan.
Maybe you have been in similar testing times. Maybe your faith has been battered and shaken, like a tiny dinghy in middle of a fierce ocean. All I can say is, hold on. Take each day at a time. Keep yourself close to God. Get around other believers who will cheer you on. Hold fast to the promises of His Word. Write down that promise that you’re believing for and pray over it daily.
At our daughter’s dedication, we shared this verse; ‘Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life’ – Psalm 23:6a (MSG).
This is a constant reminder that His love is an active love; He is chasing after us. God won’t let go of you. Hold fast to the promises of God. Have faith.
If you are in the midst of a battle and want someone to stand with you in prayer, call us on 0300 561 0700 or submit a prayer request here.