When the Church Fails

Rightly or wrongly, many of us view ministers/pastors/priests/clergy (whatever you want to call them) as an embodiment of the church.  We unconsciously expect them to exhibit a Christlikeness that the rest of us only aspire to, and to do so – especially to do so – when life is hard, when our faith falters, and when doubt whispers to us, “Don’t believe.”

We look to these men and women to model the obstacle-surmounting faith we want and need to survive the journey through infertility.

But sometimes, the church fails.

My husband had an experience yesterday that reminded us both that even the best, most respected ministers can fall far short of our expectations.  They can momentarily lose sight of God’s will and purpose — and their responsibility to inspire us to follow their example.  When they do, they can profoundly disappoint us.  In response, we’re tempted to turn our backs on what feels like a sham.  A pretense.  An every Sunday dog and pony show that’s actually make-believe.

Of course, Satan loves when church leaders fail.  When they refuse to acknowledge their own limitations, doubts, struggles, shortcomings or uncertainties.  Why?  Because he knows “God opposes the proud” – and it’s pride that keeps clergy from admitting their imperfections.  Whether it’s because they want to maintain a mystique or fulfill unspoken expectations, their unwillingness to admit that they don’t always know how to minister to us cripples their ministry – and sometimes, our faith.

Many infertile couples leave the church as a result.

But here’s the thing to understand:  even when the church – through its leaders and its congregants – fails to be compassionate, honest, transparent or accountable, God doesn’t fail.   He hasn’t.  And He won’t.

The truth is, only Christ can be fully Christlike.  Only He has ever walked in faith at all times, and through all circumstances.  The rest of us?  Feet of clay.  As Scripture declares,  “[We] all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We’re all imperfect – most especially, those of us who stand in the pulpit and preach Christlikeness while failing to walk the talk.

Is that hypocrisy frustrating for infertile couples?  You bet.  Alienating?  Definitely.  Unforgiveable?  No.  Why?  Because that’s the tension between who we all are and who God calls us to be.

It is journeys like the one through infertility that help us grow in faith — in the process, narrowing the gap between who we are and who we can be:  Stronger believers.  More humble, better equipped, growing in gratitude and increasingly ready to parent the children God has planned for us.

That’s one of infertility’s blessings-in-disguise.

So, remember:  Though the church may fail you, Christ never fails.  He has promised to comfort, strengthen, and guide you.  He has committed to pray for you, grieve with you, and give you hope.  He shows you through Scripture what is possible by faith in the God “through whom all things are possible.”  He never, ever fails.

Build your faith upon this rock.

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1 Comment

Filed under Battles, Peace, Perspective

One response to “When the Church Fails

  1. Libby

    Thank you for that reminder. Our pastor recently said that hell must have frozen over since they are pregnant again 8 years after their last child. That was followed up by his wife saying that they both cried and cried over the discovery of her being pregnant. I was surprised by the insensitivity since he is always saying that children are a gift from God. We were actually thinking of talking to our pastor about our exploring donor eggs or donor embryos, but those statements closed the door on that.

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