"Does it get any better than this?" I remember asking my wife, Jeannie. Anyone looking at my life in 2004 would have agreed that I was very blessed—a beautiful wife, three remarkable children, a lucrative career in banking, and a passionate walk with the Lord.
Soon afterward, God spoke a clear word to my heart: "I'm going to answer your prayer for brokenness." From that time on, the "wheels started to come off" in virtually every area of my life. My faith in him was going to be severely tested and I was going to embrace the cross and the "fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10, NASB) like never before.
I had met my future wife in a lovely English rose garden in the summer of 1978, and from the start, we had a beautiful relationship. After an amazing courtship, we were married in April 1981, including the vows of commitment "for better or for worse." Believing that God had brought us together to use for his glory, we began our marriage and our ministry in central London with a view to leading many people to faith in Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful time of growing in Christ, and we placed our future in God's hands.
In 2005, after 23 wonderful years of marriage and three children, the "better" times rapidly deteriorated into the "worst" times of our lives. Within a period of a few months, our family was severely shaken on every side—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I was betrayed at work, our dog died, and a very close family member was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease. Then on November 8, 2005, our precious youngest son, Alex, 17, took a drug that disoriented him and sent him into a psychotic state, during which he committed suicide. We were utterly and totally devastated and broken. Two months later, my sister, whom I was very close to, passed away. Shortly after this, our eldest son, Ben, came within an inch of losing his life in a terrible accident. With all the grief and trauma, Jeannie's intestines knotted twice and she was rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery. She came close to dying of a "broken heart."
The tragic loss of Alex was too much for Jeannie's heart to bear. Overcome with grief, she blamed me. She blamed God. She blamed everything and everybody. The grief and pain had a devastating effect on our relationship, and life seemed almost insurmountable. I began to dread the weekends, when Jeannie would offload some of her pain and grief on me. Jeannie's once intense love for God and for me was replaced by a coldness and hatred toward us both. Though she had ministered the truth of Jesus Christ to others for years, the devastation of losing our precious son in the most unspeakable way had taken her to a place where she professed that she no longer believed in a God who could be that cruel. She wished she had never been born.