Never Once Did We Ever Walk Alone

Our walk with God

One Year On

on July 21, 2012

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future”
Audrey Hepburn

Very little over a year ago I was doing exactly what Audrey Hepburn said you should never do! Our future seemed to have taken a sudden and overwhelming turn in another direction. Due to Sarah’s newly diagnosed MS it felt like the path before us had become overgrown and far less worn. I spent a lot of my time “fretting about the future“, what would this illness mean to our lives, to our family and to our relationship? Well now with the 20/20 vision of hindsight I know that it meant changes to our daily routine, moving back in with Sarah’s parents, new things to consider when thinking of starting a family and an immensely stronger relationship that was not without some struggles.

 One year ago last Sunday we did not go to church as we do each and every week, we did not enjoy a roast dinner nor did we enjoy the customary Sunday afternoon nap! We were at the hospital due to a word from God that awoke Sarah’s sister Laura in the middle of the night telling her to go straight to Kings SE London. It began a short but terrifying stay in Hospital for Sarah whilst the doctors moved from the original diagnosis of a stroke to the final one of Multiple Sclerosis. You never expect that 18 months in to marriage at the ages of 24 and 23 that the “sickness and in health” part of your vows would come in to effect. From that point a future that seemed clear began to become far less certain.

Throughout this last year we have had to learn to adapt, Sarah has experienced other relapses each with its own damage and symptoms, some of our priorities have changed but our relationships with one another, our families, our friends but most importantly our God have grown ever stronger and ever deeper. I thank God regularly for the grace and mercy He has shown us and that we can still stand firmly knowing that never once did we [or will we] ever walk alone. We have been held in the embrace of our heavenly Father and still experience His daily Joy. I do not want to fool anyone in to thinking that we are glad of Sarah’s illness or that we are even comfortable with it but when you come to a place of knowing that you future is truly secure and that one day all suffering finally will cease you will know that Joy is not an emotion at all but a place where you dwell; a constant that is sustained by being in relationship with Almighty God.

 Last Sunday on the anniversary of Sarah being admitted to hospital purely by “chance” (I say this as although I knew that we were around the year mark but it wasn’t until my mother in law informed me that it was that morning a year ago that we went to hospital) I had the privilege to stand before our church and preach for the very first time! I can say now that even through the nervousness and anxiety I totally loved it. What an honour it is to be entrusted to communicate Gods word to His people. The following day I ran a course that one year before I had, had to cancel due to needing to be with Sarah at the hospital. We have taken on the leadership of one of our church’s fantastic community groups and Sarah is continuing to serve as a singer and worship leader for the church. We continually count our blessings and although we still live with our troubles we have so much provision and grace to be truly thankful for.

 I think Audrey Hepburn had some wisdom in her words but instead perhaps we should take our wisdom from God’s word. Instead of fretting about what to eat, what to wear or where the money is coming from to pay our rent/mortgage, we should be like the animals that do worry about such things as they know that they will be provided for. Our provision comes from God, he sustains everything with His very word; even the air we breathe is commanded by Him. We must never lose sight of the truth that the same God who created the universe, the animals and the air we breathe; formed each one of us in our mother’s womb and knew us before the very foundation of the earth. He knows the end from the beginning and has plans for us, to prosper and not to harm us. He invites us all in to come and live in His house to draw on His grace and love. We have many trials and hard times coming our way and I personally would have no idea how to cope with any of them at all if I were not certain that my God cares for me. He cares for you to. Come and enjoy Him, rest in Him, the bad stuff doesn’t go away be He is sufficient for all of our needs.

 I started this post with a quote that I felt that many of us would look to for an ideal way to live, however an outlook like this can be dangerous as it provides us no way of not fretting as much as it just encourages us to ignore and block out the things we decide we don’t like or get us down. Instead read the quote from scripture below as the truth is, if we cast all of our anxiety and iniquities on Jesus He will provide a way through, a joy and miraculous way of turning our mourning to gladness!

 Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”


God bless,

James & Sarah


2 responses to “One Year On

  1. leila says:

    If there was a love button, I’d press it! Just love U guys such inspirational people, you give everybody real perspective in your dilligent application of God’s word, living in his hope, holding onto his truth, truely you bring me and many others to feel shame, not condemned but awakened, not fearful but expectant, praise be to God for he is worthy to be praise. Speaking to people through your lives your experiences bringing his word to life, I love you guys so dearly, Sarah & James Duncan, you are amazingXx Praise God that he has blessed you with a spirit of perseverance and of faith. I’m so amazed, humbled and grateful for what God is doing in your life. Despite the pain and sometimes uncertainty of the illness you hold onto and are sustained by the reality of Jesus, we all need 2 remember and recognise the reality today of his incredible sacrifice, In Jesus name God bless U both and keep you safeXxXx

  2. Many years ago I saw this poem written on a church noticeboard. It spoke to me so I copied it down and have copied it down here again for you. Although I have never met you, I can tell you are an inspirational (and human!) couple. Love Gareth

    He maketh no mistake

    My Father’s way may twist and turn
    My heart may throb and ache,
    But in my soul I’m glad I know
    He maketh no mistake.

    My cherished plans may go astray
    My hopes may fade away,
    But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead
    For He doth know the way.

    Though night be dark and it may seem
    That day will never break,
    I’ll pin my faith, my all in Him,
    He maketh no mistake.

    There’s so much now I cannot see
    My eyesight’s far too dim,
    But come what may I’ll simply trust
    And leave it all to Him.

    For by and by the mist will lift
    And plain it all He’ll make,
    Through all the way, though dark to me,
    He made not one mistake!

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