One of the important things I believe we can do in a time of crisis is remember the goodness of God, what he’s done for us, but also listening and taking heart as we remember the good things he’s done for others. In our diverse church we are privileged to have some amazing people who’ve grown stronger through testing and trial. One such couple, beloved by many at the Chapel is Kieran and Beryl Grogan. We asked them to share what they’ve learned to encourage us all.


We are living in unprecedented times. We haven’t seen measures so drastic in this country since World War 2. As a couple we have been through some difficult situations, Kieran was in kidney failure when we got married, then had a kidney transplant 6 months after and thank God it is still going strong over 25 years later. Last year Kieran was diagnosed as having cancer due to being on immunosuppressant medication for so long. He went through chemo, and thank God got the all clear in November.

Howard asked us to share how we have come through these tough times, to encourage those of you who may be struggling right now or feeling anxious. You might even be saying “we don’t deserve this”, but the truth is we don’t deserve any of the good stuff either. That includes all the love, laughter and experiences we’ve had in our lives, the people we’ve met, the Holy Spirit joy, the goodness of God every single day and above all our salvation. God in his grace and mercy says, ‘here you go, here’s all the gifts you never earned, enjoy’.

BE THANKFUL:

We are extremely thankful for all that God has given us and take one day at a time. We look at the blessings in that day and are thankful for these whether they are big or small. So, we are thankful today because it’s sunny, we are thankful for our fantastic NHS. We are thankful for humour; we laugh a lot and try to find humour even sometimes in the less appropriate times. Kieran was once asked by a consultant if there were any side effects of the medication he was taking. He said ‘Yes, I used to speak the Queens English but now I’ve developed this unusual Irish accent’.

DIG INTO GOD’S TRUTH:

We have found refuge in God’s truth and stand on this. We’d encourage you to get a good daily Bible reading app. God wants to speak to you and encourage you so let him speak to you through his Word. We have found the Bible in One Year app helpful https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/ If you want to start slowly, just read through the Psalms and gradually build up.

Here are some scriptures that have helped us:

Psalm 91 was a particular encouragement to Kieran during the chemo treatment. Kieran would take his phone, go to the Bible app, find Psalm 91, select audio, turn the volume to max, press play, put the mobile phone on his chest and let God’s truth be spoken into his bones.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Even when Kieran was going through treatment, and Beryl felt pretty helpless she knew that Christ would give her the strength to keep going.

Psalm 121 encourages us to lift our eyes to him and shows his attention to detail. He watches over us whilst we sleep, when we stay indoors, if we have to venture out. He watches over our coming and our going. He never sleeps.

In tough times, we need to recall all the times God has been faithful in our lives because it gives us the hope that he will be faithful in the present and future too. He leads us through the fire as he promises in Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

HOLDING ON TO GOD’S PROMISES:

It is important to hold on to any verses or prophecies that have been given to you. Jeremiah 29:11 has been spoken over our lives many times, and we hold on to its promise that we have a hope and a future: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

DON’T LISTEN TO THE ENEMY:

Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy, he’s a deceiver and wants you to live in fear and anxiety. Replace his lies with God’s truth. God doesn’t want us to live in fear or be anxious. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

CAST YOUR ANXIETY AND FEARS ON TO JESUS:

Jesus encourages us to bring our fears to him; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. Every appointment at University College Hospital was a walk into the unknown and waiting for blood results was an anxious time but we handed it to God and believed that whatever the outcome was we were safe in His arms.

WORSHIP:

We have found that worship helps too, because you are singing God’s Truths. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). We have learned to rejoice in every situation. We know it’s not easy, sometimes it takes every ounce of your strength and it might be the opposite of what you might want to do, but ultimately the joy of the Lord REALLY IS your strength. So, we’d encourage you to make up a playlist of your favourite worship songs and belt them out! One song that has been helpful recently is The Goodness of God.

Verse 1
I love You Lord
Oh Your mercy never fails me
All my days
I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
I will sing of the goodness of God

Chorus
All my life You have been faithful
All my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God

Verse 2
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In darkest nights
You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a father
I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God

Bridge
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now, I give You everything
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

(Written by Jenn Johnson, Jason Ingram, Ben Fielding, Ed Cash, Brian Johnson)

BUT GOD…

Anyone who knows Kieran will know that this is one of his favourite sayings. What we believe; is that no matter how dark or desperate the situation God in an instant can reach down and use those circumstances for His good to strengthen us and draw us closer to him.

In Genesis we read of how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, ended up in prison (unfairly) but eventually became Pharaoh’s right-hand man. When his brothers came to Egypt desperate for food Joseph said to them; “You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

We have seen this with blood test results, appointment with Doctors, and sometimes God doesn’t give us the answer we want, but we still know he is good and faithful. God’s ways are not always our ways.

Who knows how God may use you during this time of being locked down? Be open to being used by him and take the time to get closer to him. See it as a growth opportunity! Let the world see that the joy of the Lord is your strength.