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26 June 2012

Life isn’t easy

Life isn’t easy

by Gavin and Anne Calver

I think there used to be this understanding in us that if you believed in God and followed Him with all your heart, life would turn out OK. Jesus would answer you with the things that you asked for and make sure that life dealt you a hand of blessing. Having both come from good Christian family backgrounds, somewhere in our subconscious we knew that God would provide and that life would be great. With hindsight the truth is that; yes God does provide, and take care of your needs, just not in the way that we may have predicted.

About five years into our marriage we hit a road block. After nearly two years of battling to conceive, we were told that it was unlikely that we'd have a family. It felt like it was our right to get engaged, get married and then have children – but perhaps not. Suddenly it felt like our prayers weren't answered and stuff in our lives didn't add up.

Strangely we went on to have a daughter, then to lose a baby and finally to walk through one of the most challenging pregnancies imaginable! Battling through nine blood transfusions in utero with possible brain damage or risk of cardiac arrest, with our baby having a five per cent chance of survival; it was a total miracle to welcome a son into our lives. Through this time in our lives we battled with disappointment, pain, fear and questioning a God who seemed to be unfair. We wondered where Jesus was in it all and what he was trying to teach us. At times we couldn't speak and just had to hold on.

Our book Stumbling Blocks is borne out of this pain in our lives but also a realisation of just how fragile our faith is and how so many issues can cause us to walk away from God. We cannot count the amount of times that we have watched folk walk away from God because of deep questions, pain, broken dreams and confusion.

In the midst of our struggle over children we chose to throw ourselves onto Jesus. We somehow knew that it was a time when we needed him most, not a time to quit and run. We drew so much inspiration from the Derek Redmond clip (favoured for a medal in the 400 metres during the Barcelona Olympics) when he suffered an agonising injury part way in and had a choice to make. He could hobble off to the sidelines or he could finish the race, limping in pain. He chose the second option. As Derek continued a man came to his aid and helped him along. That man turned out to be his father, never giving up on his son.

We've taken up the chance to be real about the things that might cause us to hobble off the track and never get back in the race. The stories are an opportunity to question whether there is a way through the challenges and perhaps to know the reality that Jesus is with us whatever we face. We don't believe that life was ever meant to be easy or that if we were faithful to God that things will always work out the way they 'should'. The truth is that we all have to face hurdles in life but you can conquer them.

It might be the pain of church, it might be that someone who you respected has let you down, it might be the loss of a family member; but whatever the challenge that hits – walking through it with God will lead us out stronger.

Anne and Gavin Calver are the authors of Stumbling Blocks, in which they share some of their own very personal story and how God worked in them when their journey got tough. Watch their frank and candid interview on YouTube