Friday, September 28, 2012

Finding Hope in the Midst of Infertility

Infertility . . . why are we so afraid of this word? It is because of the feelings of anger, shame, guilt, or loss we feel? Why do we hold these feelings inside instead of sharing them with our heavenly Father, who longs to carry the burden for us? Why shouldn't we be willing to share our lives and personal experiences with our sisters in the Lord who have walked this path before us or are experiencing it in the here and now as we are?

God took me on a long journey dealing with infertility, and in turn, has given me a heart and calling to reach out to my sisters who are experiencing the same pain. I know and have felt all the array of emotions that go along with this painful journey, but have now been surprised by joy (to take a page from C.S. Lewis) and seen the hand of God at work. I understand the immense sadness that results from an empty womb and all the pain, doubt, anger, confusion, and desires that go along with the trial. But what if, instead of allowing these feelings of bitterness and anger to stew in our hearts, we turn our focus to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and seek to align our thoughts and desires with His. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. " (James 1:2-6, NIV)

In the midst of infertility, it can be so hard when everywhere we turn it seems there is another person pregnant. And what about those who don’t even want to be pregnant? You may think (because I know I have), why, God, can they get pregnant, when I can’t? Even adopting and having the most precious daughter whom I love more than my life itself does not completely assuage the feelings of loss over missing out on not having carried my daughter in my womb and experiencing the joy of her first 18 months of life. I would lying if I said a day doesn't go by when I don't feel sadness over that loss coupled with great joy and thankfulness.  Furthermore, I have to admit that even still when I experience the joy of someone finding out they are pregnant or holding a precious new baby in my arms a tear runs down my cheek and for a fleeting moment I cry out to God, why can't I carry a baby inside me? But in that moment, God whispers in my heart once again, "Suzanne, you know that my plan for you is through the adoption of your precious children. It is My perfect plan for you and it far exceeds the plans you thought you had or even the ideas that the world is pedaling as ideal. Keep trusting Me, dear one! 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher then the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.' (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)"

When I choose to spend more time with the Father in prayer and delve even deeper into the Word, I experience abounding peace and joy even in the midst of trials, tribulations, and pain, and the closer I grow to Him, the more my weaknesses become apparent, and with that, my understanding of my need for Him. I am continuing to work on learning to just trust Him, even when I want to scream, “Why, Lord?” I know in my heart that He has a plan that is far superior to anything I could ever imagine. "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong". (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NASB).

There are so many women today who need to be ministered to regarding this issue and the number only seems to be growing. I remember have a discussion recently with a friend about how we know more women who struggle with infertility than women who don’t. Sure, there are tons of random message boards out there where women can come to share their experiences, but what about the Christian community? How are we ministering to these women? The trial of infertility can hinder a woman’s relationship with God and lead her away from His comforting arms, love, and plan for her life if she is not focused on Him. As Christian women, we should be there to guide women to God out of the wallows of self pity, doubt, and pain into His marvelous light and amazing promise of faithfulness.

How many times have you asked why can’t I have a child? The answer to this question will be different for each person struggling with infertility based on God’s plan and timing for their life. Sometimes God will clearly reveal why and sometimes He won’t. We need to have faith in Him and His purposes, no matter the situation. He is the one in control, not us. I think this is one of the hardest things about infertility.  It is all about relying on God. He has a plan that is far beyond our understanding. That is what makes Him God and us not! Everything that happens to us in this life, God draws on to shape us into a vessel that He can use for His glory and to further His kingdom.  “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”  (Isaiah 64:8, NASB).   

The infertility experience will bring us ever closer to our beloved Father as we learn to lean on Him for support. We must not forget that we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He understands what we are going through; what other religion can claim that truth? Jesus not only experienced all the physical aspects of being human but the emotional as well. He felt great loneliness and grief when separated from God, His Father, on the cross (Matthew 27:46). He dealt with sadness at the death of Lazarus (John 11:34-36), and expressed righteous indignation at the discovery of exploitation in the Temple of the Lord (John 2:16). Satan even tempted Jesus (Luke 4) to no avail.  The physical pain that Jesus felt on the cross was incredible, but He stayed focused on the Father. Study of the gospels reveals that Jesus was human and experienced everything that we experience, only He is God and was perfect in His humanity without sin.  

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:14-16, NASB). 

Now our Lord is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 1:3). What a wonderful thought!

Stay tuned for further discussion on infertility and a look at women in the Bible who shared this experience. 

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