Archive | infertility

Women, Children, Infertility, and God

In my Christian circles, I hear a lot about how feminism has diminished the high calling women have as wives and mothers. I saw a sign at a local community college that said, “a woman’s place in on the jobsite.” It was advertising a forum for women on careers in technical fields. But it was an obvious take off on the saying, “a woman’s place is in the home.” I feel pretty confident in the choices we have made for our own family, so I don’t resent such statements much one way or the other. But one thing I have noted is that in Christian circles, we often tend to overcompensate in our attempts to correct whatever wrong thinking we diagnose in our culture.

In regards to our role as women, I see a trend among conservative Christian women in feminist cultures to overcompensate by placing an emphasis on children and home that goes beyond what God intended and instructs. I’ve long thought that a husband and children can become an idol in a Christian woman’s life just as quickly as any feminist goal we are reacting against (I know this because I’ve been there, done that). I don’t think we ever really understand our idols until they are threatened. That’s when our responses indicate whether they or our God are our identity and security. We MUST differentiate clearly between being a good steward of the gifts God gives us and elevating those gifts to a place of idolatry. Do you stress over what kind of meal to bring to the sick? Is your identity tied to how well you impress the person who receives your meal? Are you embarrassed to have others to your house because it doesn’t meet a perceived standard of hospitality? When your child acts out at playdate, are you humiliated? Do you beat yourself up? Or if you do not have husband, child, or house, do you feel that your life is in a holding pattern until they come along? Are you secure on who you are IN CHRIST? Does it sustain you even when you can’t, despite your best efforts, live up to the perceived standard in your Christian culture of what a godly Christian woman looks like?

I’ve posted before about singleness in our marriage centered Christian culture. I’d like to end this post with some particular thoughts on infertility. This is for those of you who value the high calling of motherhood and long to raise a brood to love Jesus. But despite your good desire, you are coming to realize your powerlessness to make this happen. How do you not just exist, but live abundantly, in a culture that values children so much? Do you know enough of the character of your God to believe deeply in His goodness despite these circumstances?

If You Were Coming In The Fall
By Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Dickinson must have been long acquainted with the frustration of waiting. Though likely written about a lost love, her poem well articulates the annoying problem of waiting for a child with no indication of when (if ever) your wait will be over. If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, you have likely experienced feelings similar to the bee Dickinson describes that flies about your head threatening its sting but never fulfilling its threat. Wouldn’t you just rather KNOW? Many couples go for years without getting pregnant with no documentable problem with either spouse. What do you do? How long do you wait? Should you try to adopt?

God often uses WAITING in Scripture to accomplish His purposes. Lamentations 3:25 promises that the Lord is good to those who WAIT on Him. But what do you do in the waiting? How do you deal with emotions and fears that buzz around your head threatening you like Dickinson’s goblin bee? Here are some common questions and concerns faced at this stage of life along with Scriptural answers for each.

1) “I prayed and I’m still not pregnant. I’m afraid God’s answer will be NO.”

God invites perseverance in prayer. The parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18 was given to us for the express purpose to teach us to not give up in prayer. Though God is sovereign over this process and has before the foundation of the world established His plan for our lives, He still invites us to nag Him in prayer. And in that persevering prayer, He promises a peace over our hearts and minds that will transcend our ability to understand. What a gracious God!

Philippians 4 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 18 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4″For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

2) “God isn’t good and He isn’t working for my good.”

Oh, but He is! God is notorious for using the worst of circumstances to work the best of things in His children’s lives. This is His trademark. Think of Job, Joseph, Hannah, Ruth, etc. He brings bad circumstances into our lives, forcing us to lose our life so that we may truly find it. Then He teaches us the meaning of true abundant living. Dying to ourselves is painful. But believe that the work He is performing in your life defies expectation. This is fundamentally Who our God is.

Romans 8 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Hebrews 11 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. …6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Matthew 10 37″Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

3) “Why did God give me a desire that He refuses to fulfill?”

The desire to be parents is certainly God-ordained. But desires out of line with sufficiency and satisfaction in Christ are devastating. God often uses unfulfilled desire in Scripture to accomplish His purposes. Consider Hannah’s classic example. Without her long unfulfilled desire, she would never have been willing to give her son up to service in God’s temple. No one can say for sure why God is allowing this unfulfilled desire in your heart. But you can trust that it is consistent with His character and that He is working in your desires to accomplish His will. Psalms 37 speaks of God’s working in and through our desires. But consider the context. The general exhortation of the chapter is to be patient and not worry when evil people seem to be winning and your desires are slow to be fulfilled.

Psalms 37 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD ; trust in him and he will do this: … 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

4) “There is no way I can be satisfied with this stage of life.”

Godly contentment is possible! At issue is the tension between actively pursuing the God-ordained act of raising children and resting contentedly in this waiting time. God is working good things in your life at this stage. This stage of infertility can be a sweet time of friendship and sharing in your marriage. It could be a time to minister to others in far away locations. Maybe God has called you to a time-consuming ministry in town you won’t be able to do later when you have children. Despite His waiting to fulfill your desire to have children, He has prepared works in advance for you that will contribute to a life of abundant joy—even at this stage.

Ephesians 2 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Philippians 4 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I Timothy 6 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Psalm 90 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

5) “How much time and money should I spend seeking fertility? How far is too far?”

Short of creating embryos that will be discarded (some may disagree with me here), this decision is up to you, your spouse, and your conscience. There will be times for you to go forward with treatments and times for you to step away from the process. Only you can say at what point you stop trusting God and start trying to manipulate your way around His will. He is sovereign over this process, and He opens and closes the womb. Through His common grace, He has given doctors good knowledge on this subject. It’s always wise to be informed as long as that information doesn’t cause you to trust in man over God.

Psalm 20 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 40 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

6) “I am bitter and jealous towards others inside and outside the church.”

These emotions are common but never justified. We must deal with them simply as the sin they are. In Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. We have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to the image of Christ. We DON’T have to give in to these sins. Rebuke yourself when you see this attitude surface. Repent to Christ and force yourself over the hurdle to be kind and honest to those you resent.

Genesis 30 1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

Romans 13 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Romans 6 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

7) “How can I have a meaningful relationship with women who have not been through this struggle?”

If women who have not struggled with this issue seem to respond to you callously, give them the benefit of the doubt. Most likely, they are simply ignorant of the emotional battles you are facing. Educate them honestly about your situation. Women who love Christ will appreciate your honesty and want to come alongside you in support during this time. It is essential that church members mutually share individuals’ burdens. This speaks to the heart of what it means to be members of the Body of Christ. Paul was honest about the hardships he suffered so that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be unified with him in both the sufferings and the comfort of Christ.

I Corinthians 12
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. … 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

8) “I think God is punishing me.”

Many Scriptures already listed address this concern. God constantly works negative things in our lives for our good and His glory. The story of Job is the classic example of God bringing horrible circumstances in the life of a believer DESPITE his uprightness of character and obedience. According to Job 1, it is because of Job’s righteous character that he is picked for this burden. Satan accuses Job of obeying God only because God is good to Job. If God brings hardship to Job, Satan believes Job will reject God. So Job’s story is about proving God’s worthiness to Satan. In hardship or blessing, trial or glory, God is worthy of praise and adoration. Like Paul’s sufferings, God is working in your life to make known to heavenly powers that He is worthy of praise.

Ephesians 3 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Job 1 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

I hope this gives food for thought for first making sure your desire for children is not idolatrous, and then second dealing with the phenonemon God often uses to change us into His image — giving us a desire for something He says is very good and then making us WAIT for the fulfillment of that good desire.

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Infertility Part 3

This is the final installment on infertility. Here is part 1 and part 2.

7) “How can I have a meaningful relationship with women who have not been through this struggle?”

If women who have not struggled with this issue seem to respond to you callously, give them the benefit of the doubt (after all, Biblical love as described in I Cor. 13 requires no less). Most likely, they are simply ignorant of the emotional battles you are facing. Educate them honestly about your situation. Women who love Christ will appreciate your honesty and want to come alongside you in support during this time. It is essential that church members mutually share individuals’ burdens. This speaks to the heart of what it means to be members of the Body of Christ. Paul was honest about the hardships he suffered so that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be unified with him in both the sufferings and the comfort of Christ.

2 Corinthians 1 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

8) “I think God is punishing me.”

Absolutely not! Romans 8:1 teaches that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sure you sin and deserve judgement. But Jesus Christ fully paid this penalty on the cross. Now, God operates with us on a totally different playing field called grace. Instead of punishing you, God is disciplining you–which is an entirely different concept than punishment. The term discipline in Scripture means training in righteousness. So God is allowing circumstances in your life to teach you something beautiful about Himself that will conform you to His image.

Hebrews 12 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

God constantly works negative things in our lives for our good and His glory. The story of Job is the classic example of God bringing horrible circumstances in the life of a believer DESPITE his uprightness of character and obedience. According to Job 1, it is because of Job’s righteous character that he is picked for this burden. Satan accuses Job of obeying God only because God is good to Job. If God brings hardship to Job, Satan believes Job will reject God. So Job’s story is about proving God’s worthiness to Satan. In hardship or blessing, trial or glory, God is worthy of praise and adoration. Like Paul’s sufferings, God is working in your life to make known to heavenly powers that He is worthy of praise.

Ephesians 3 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Job 1 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

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Infertility Part 2

Here are the next set of common questions and concerns about infertility.

4) “There is no way I can be satisfied with this stage of life.”

Godly contentment is possible! At issue is the tension between actively pursuing the God-ordained act of raising children and resting contentedly in this waiting time. God is working good things in your life at this stage. This stage of infertility can be a sweet time of friendship and sharing in your marriage. It could be a time to minister to others in far away locations. Maybe God has called you to a time-consuming ministry in town you won’t be able to do later when you have children. Despite His waiting to fulfill your desire to have children, He has prepared works in advance for you that will contribute to a life of abundant joy—even at this stage.

Ephesians 2 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Proverbs 19 21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. 22 What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Philippians 4 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

I Timothy 6 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Psalm 90 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

John 15 9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

5) “How much time and money should I spend seeking fertility? How far is too far?”

Short of creating embryos that will be discarded, this decision is up to you, your spouse, and your conscience. There will be times for you to go forward with treatments and times for you to step away from the process. Only you can say at what point you stop trusting God and start trying to manipulate your way around His will. He is sovereign over this process, and He opens and closes the womb. Through His common grace, He has given doctors good knowledge on this subject. It’s always wise to be informed as long as that information doesn’t cause you to trust in man over God.

Psalm 20 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Romans 14 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Psalm 40 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

6) “I am bitter and jealous towards others inside and outside the church.”

These emotions are common but never justified. We must deal with them simply as the sin they are. In Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. We have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to the image of Christ. We DON’T have to give in to these sins. Rebuke yourself when you see this attitude surface. Repent to Christ and force yourself over the hurdle to be kind and honest to those you resent.

Genesis 30 1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

Romans 13 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Romans 6 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

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Infertility

Several years ago during my own struggle with infertility, I sat down with other godly women struggling with the same battle to hammer out a handbook for an seminar on the topic. Many years have passed. Some have adopted. Some have gotten pregnant with or without fertility intervention (and then gotten pregnant a 2nd time unexpectedly). Some still have not yet conceived a child of their own. But I believe the truths we gathered from Scripture on this topic resonate still. And if you or someone you love are struggling with this topic, I hope this will be an encouragement to you.

I will break this up into a series of posts over the next few days due to the length.

If You Were Coming In The Fall
By Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.
If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.
If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.
But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.
Emily Dickinson must have been long acquainted with the frustration of waiting. Though likely written about a lost love, her poem well articulates the annoying problem of waiting for something with no indication of when (if ever) your wait will be over. For many of us, that wait is for God to give us a child. If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, you have likely experienced feelings similar to the bee Dickinson describes that flies about your head threatening its sting but never fulfilling its threat. Wouldn’t you sometimes just rather KNOW? Many couples go for years without getting pregnant with no documentable problem with either spouse. What do you do? How long do you wait? Should you try to adopt?

God often uses WAITING in Scripture to accomplish His purposes. Lamentations 3:25 promises that the Lord is good to those who WAIT on Him. But what do you do in the waiting? How do you deal with emotions and fears that buzz around your head threatening you like Dickinson’s goblin bee? Here are some common questions and concerns faced at this stage of life along with Scriptural answers for each.

Common Infertility Concerns and Questions

1) “I prayed and I’m still not pregnant. I’m afraid God’s answer will be NO.”

God invites perseverance in prayer. The parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18 was given to us for the express purpose to teach us to not give up in prayer. Though God is sovereign over this process and has before the foundation of the world established His plan for our lives, He still invites us to nag Him in prayer. And in that persevering prayer, He promises a peace over our hearts and minds that will transcend our ability to understand. What a gracious God!

Philippians 4 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 18 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4″For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for
his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Romans 8 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

2) “God isn’t good and He isn’t working for my good.”

Oh, but He is!!!! God is notorious for using the worst of circumstances to work the best of things in His children’s lives. This is His trademark. Think of Job, Joseph, Hannah, Ruth, etc. He brings bad circumstances into our lives, forcing us to lose our life so that we may truly find it. Then He teaches us the meaning of true abundant living. Dying to ourselves is painful. But believe that the work He is performing in your life defies expectation. This is fundamentally Who our God is.

Romans 8 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Hebrews 11 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. …6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Matthew 10 37″Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

3) “Why did God give me a desire that He refuses to fulfill?”

The desire to be parents is certainly God-ordained. But desires out of line with sufficiency and satisfaction in Christ are devastating. God often uses unfulfilled desire in Scripture to accomplish His purposes. Consider Hannah’s classic example. Without her long unfulfilled desire, she would never have been willing to give her son up to service in God’s temple. No one can say for sure why God is allowing this unfulfilled desire in your heart. But you can trust that it is consistent with His character and that He is working in your desires to accomplish His will. Psalms 37 speaks of God’s working in and through our desires. But consider the context. The general exhortation of the chapter is to be patient and not worry when evil people seem to be winning and your desires are slow to be fulfilled.

Psalms 37 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD ; trust in him and he will do this: … 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

Isaiah 30 15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

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Singleness and Infertility

The two hardest emotional struggles I have ever had centered around the issues of singleness and infertility. After breaking up with the man I thought I was going to marry, I moved to a new city to begin a new job. With no prospects on the horizon, I became quickly convinced that I would never get married, that I had lost my one chance at happiness, and now I was doomed to spend holidays in my twilight years as the spinster aunt at my sisters’ houses.

Those were the darkest months of my life. I slept a lot—because waking up and facing my bleak outlook on my future was more than I could bear. Finding a church was excruciating. Church is a family time. And my loneliness was never more painfully obvious that when I walked in, sat, and left by myself at some new church, just to go home and eat lunch by myself afterwards. I ended up choosing my church that year because I had a married friend who attended there. She and her husband would have me over for lunch on Sundays quite often. So that was my church. It had nothing to do with doctrine, and everything to do with escaping my loneliness.

Eventually, I began volunteering with the United Way, helping a family on welfare make the transition to independent living. I don’t know that I made much of a difference to that family. However, getting involved in helping them got my eyes off myself for a time, and things began to transform in my mind. I was distracted from myself. The depression over me began to lift. Soon, I met the man who would become my husband. Crisis over.


Fast forward 5 years. It’s time for us to have kids. I get pregnant and miscarry. But it takes a while to get pregnant again. My mind starts envisioning similar scenarios as it did years before—Andy dies and I’m left to have Christmas dinner at my nephews’ houses if they’ll have me. Who will there be to love? Who will love me? There is an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach as I contemplate my future.

I did get pregnant and now have 2 boys. I didn’t spend that long in either season—and yet it was long enough to learn some valuable lessons.
1) Waiting is hard. And yet, for some reason, it is one of God’s favorite ways of teaching us about Himself.

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.


2) People who haven’t been through it are oblivious to the pain of the struggle. “Why aren’t you married yet?!” They mean well, but such comments seem insensitive and hurtful when you’re in the midst of the waiting. One friend asked me, “When are you guys going to have kids?” I had miscarried the week before. And I told her. I didn’t do it to hurt her, but I knew seeds of bitterness would take root and grow if I didn’t honestly, graciously deal with it right then. She wasn’t being mean–she was ignorant. So I tried to inform her graciously in hopes she would be more sensitive to the next lady she came across.
3) My understanding of and love for God wasn’t enough to sustain me. These struggles revealed that I wasn’t confident that He would care for me, provide for me, and guide me in a path that was meaningful and fruitful. He wasn’t enough. This was a painful but needed road to walk. I really didn’t believe God was good and trustworthy with MY LIFE. In light of this, you’ll see that I do a lot of meditating here on who God is—that He is trustworthy and good even when our circumstances don’t fit our vision of the good life.

On a final note, a friend of mine recently recommended to me Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye by Carolyn McCulley. Carolyn is a godly single woman who has lots of wisdom to share about the issues of this season of life. I love the subtitle of this book—Trusting God with a Hope Defferred. The interesting thing about my friend’s recommendation of this book is that she isn’t single. She’s infertile. But she found many of the lessons in Carolyn’s book to be applicable to the struggle of infertility as well as singleness and was very encouraged in seeking God’s face through reading it.
I don’t mean to diminish the struggle of either the deferred hope of waiting on a husband or of waiting on children by linking them in this article. But I do hope to provoke thought on the similarities of the issues and point Christian sisters to those in other stages of life who may still well understand and accompany them through their hurts.

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Infertility v. Barrenness


I had a very brief bout with infertility before getting pregnant with my son–just long enough to get a good taste of the intense mental battles that accompany this trial for many women. I have a good friend who has gone through it much longer than I, and she has an interesting perspective on the terms infertility and barrenness. There was something about the term barrenness that really bothered her. Infertility made her think of a field that needed to be fertilized–it needed proper nutrients to make it healthy again. But barrenness implied a much more stark reality–like a field had been given over and had no hope of use in the future.

She shared all this during a discussion on the book Blessings of Barrenness, a rare book on infertility written by and for Christian women. I recommend it. My main criticism of the book is that it is poorly edited, which can be distracting as you read it. My neutral disclaimer of the book is that I don’t know the doctrinal background of the author, and there were a few places that I disagreed with a statement she made. I don’t know that I need to point that out, since all of my friends are discerning readers. But there it is anyway.

Now on the good points of the book–well, everything else was good. The author writes with hard-earned practical wisdom from her years of struggle with infertility. She well understands the struggles of this season of life. She shared the story of her crippling grief and the feelings of abandonment by God when the mother of the son they were soon to adopt decides to keep him after all. She has vast experience with others’ well-meaning but still hurtful comments. She knows the struggle of deciding how far to travel down the path of fertility treatments. She explains the painful situations well and writes with compassion. But she also points consistently to the One who is sovereign over it all and well able to sustain us in the trial.

One thing I especially appreciated about the book is that she shares stories of women from a variety of backgrounds, including those experiencing secondary infertility (infertility after successfully giving birth previously). There were women who adopted, had successful fertility treatments, got pregnant miraculously with no intervention, and those who remained childless after deciding not to adopt. I appreciated their different perspectives. Another plus is that the book had good information on the ins and outs of fertility treatment options from someone who had been through many of them.

So if you or someone you love is experiencing infertility and would like a first hand account by someone who has battled this with faith and confidence in her God, this book is a good resource. Most of us who have been there equally despise the terms infertile and barren, and I hope more Christian women will write on this topic. There is a serious lack of helpful resources from a Christian perspective on this topic.

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