No overview of the way the Lord guides
His people through difficult times would be complete without
referring to the help that angels bring praying saints at crucial
moments. From the angel of the Lord who found Hagar destitute and
desolate by the side of the road,26 to the angel who guided the
children of Israel to safety through the wilderness, they guide,
they guard, and they provide God's people with invaluable
May I share the story of how I
believe an angel strengthened me recently when we were going through
a most disturbing time? Rosalind and I went to bed late one night,
eagerly anticipating our early morning departure for a much needed
Easter holiday across the Channel in France. During the night, a
strange muscle spasm jolted Ros awake. For nearly a minute, it
immobilised her right hand, leg and foot. She said nothing about it
in the morning, hoping it would ease.
We drove across north France and
spent the night in a retreat house run by some friends of ours. Ros
was strangely subdued, and, to tell the truth, looked decidedly
unwell. That night she had two further spasms, which left me to do
all the driving to the mobile home we had hired.
The holiday was both special and
strange. Special because it was the south of France, and warmth and
beauty surrounded us. Strange because the after effects of her
nightly attacks left Ros unable to venture further than the decking
of the mobile home for the whole fortnight. Little did we know that
these crippling spasms would continue, night after night, with ever
growing intensity for the next ten weeks, each attack leaving her
brain feeling increasingly slugged in its aftermath.
Overnight, our entire future was
thrown into question. What did these repeated seizures portend?
Would Ros be able to continue the work she loved mentoring the next
generation of midwives? More to the point, how would we cope if she
did not? I went quickly down the road of fearing the worst.
Questions swirled through my mind, later to be echoed by puzzled
doctors. Was she having a series of strokes? Or epilepsy? Or, Heaven
forbid, was this the onset of multiple sclerosis?
After speaking to a French doctor, we
agreed together that there was no point in embarking on lengthy
tests which would need to be duplicated as soon as we returned to
Britain. The spring was warm and peaceful, yet inwardly chilled by
the shadow that was hanging over us. By the time we returned home,
Ros was having difficulty remembering the alphabet.
We all react to setbacks in different
ways. Some of us are only too ready to assume imminent doom, whilst
others are inclined to minimise issues. If we can do our best to put
to one side questions to which there are, as yet, no answers –
without straying into denial – then this is surely the wisest
approach to take – but it did not come readily to me on this
As soon as we returned home we
kick-started the process of obtaining medical tests. Interminable
waiting for appointments with a surprisingly surly consultant,
further delays before receiving results that would only trigger
further tests – many of you will be only too familiar with the whole
frustrating process. Like Job so long ago, I felt profoundly shaken,
with my heart weighed down by concern for Ros and for our decidedly
Mum-centred seven-year-old son.28
I made several sorties into the
beautiful French countryside – on my own, of course, because Ros did
not feel well enough to leave our holiday home. On one of these
outings, I suddenly became aware that I was not on my own. I
strongly sensed there was a “Presence” in the car with me.
When a representative of the Host of
Heaven comes close, there is often an immense sense of spiritual
uplift (but by no means always, for angels are often sent in the
most ordinary of guises). This is less euphoria than a profound
awareness of the sovereignty of God over the minutest of affairs.
The angel spoke to me about things back home that I would somehow
not have expected a “French” angel to have been aware of.
I know enough about such encounters
to realise that they are decreed and appointed by the Father – but
why was He granting this experience? Being just that touch neurotic,
as well as extremely concerned about what was happening to Ros, I
soon began to wonder if the Lord had not sent this wonderful
strengthening precisely because things were about to get a great