Infertility’s Place in History

A local pastor, Jentezen Franklin, likes to ask people:  “Are you racing ahead or being led?”  That question captures the inherent tension in the choice between pursuing our own plans and waiting for God’s.

When you’re ready to start a family, racing ahead sounds fabulous.  It implies conceiving quickly and effortlessly, being the first to have baby showers, and the first to buy maternity clothes.  It means life is on track, and your dreams are becoming reality.  Right spouse.  Great wedding.  Good job(s).  And now, perfect family.

Go, go, go!

But something’s missing.

Where’s God in that story?

For some people, it’s tempting to say, “Who cares?”  If the dream is unfolding the way they want, why change anything?  Or, some might say, “He’s with us” – meaning, He’s obviously blessing us because we’re getting what we want.  So, it’s all good!

But what if God wants more – for us, or for our children?  And what if infertility is the path that leads to “more”?  Are we willing to be led rather than racing ahead?

Peel back the veneer of The Seemingly Perfect Life and you will often find a story with self at the center.  Self-gratification is the goal of this life – and the more instant the gratification, the better.  Effortless success is the Holy Grail:  succeed at everything and make it look easy.  It’s a Type-A-for-Achiever life lived at “race ahead” speed… with very little time for silence, submission or sacrifice.

So what happens when “race ahead” types are not the star of the story?  When it’s not all about us?  What happens when we are intended to fulfill a supporting role in the lives of our children?  Or, when there is a place in history for our child?

Laura voiced this thought when I interviewed her for Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.   She said, “Mainly, what I think I carried away from this  [infertility] experience is that God has a timeline for your child, too.  There’s a place in history for that child.  And just because we want something right now and can’t wait doesn’t mean it should happen that way.”

The subtext of Laura’s point is that it’s not all about us.  It’s not about fulfilling our wishes or meeting our need for instant gratification.  It’s not about ending the suffering we experience when everyone else conceives effortlessly and we can’t.  If God has a timeline for our children, then forcing a “solution” to our problem just creates more problems.

Think of Sarah’s story from Genesis.  She wanted a child so desperately, she pushed her husband into a semi-surrogacy with her servant [Genesis 16:2].  Her helplessness and impatience wouldn’t let her wait.  The servant conceived – and resentment was born.  Racing ahead did nothing to solve her problem; it only gave birth to new tensions and bigger problems.  Only when Sarah let go, stopped pushing, and waited for God did the child He had promised become her reality.

God sometimes allows infertility to enter our stories in order to slow things down.  Slowing us down makes time for silence – so we can listen, submission – so we can follow His lead, and sacrifice – so we can/will put someone else first.  When we realize we can’t race ahead, we are often more open to being led.  This makes room for God in our stories.

And, it enables Him to slowly shift our focus from the obsessive, race ahead self-centeredness of “when will You…?!” to a God-centered, God-led: “when You….”  With that shift in focus comes peace.  And with peace, patience.  And with patience, endurance.  And with endurance, hope.  And with hope, joy.

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Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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