Bitter or Better

Two women wrote recently to tell me about their infertility experience. One is furious: “I think God is very unfair in regards to who is afflicted with infertility and who isn’t! Nothing good can ever come out of the misery we have experienced! I’m fed up with Christians giving God credit for the good but absolving him of all responsibility for the bad!”

Have you ever felt like that? Ever wanted to curse God for putting you through infertility? The stress, the grief, the loneliness, the frustration, the endless heartache…. because “nothing good can ever come out of the misery”?

Actually, scripture promises otherwise. It promise “beauty for ashes” and “that all things work together for good,” but it can be hard to believe that when you don’t see any evidence. All you see is God resisting your pleas, turning a deaf ear to your cries, and ignoring your suffering. So, you’re tempted to slam the door on Him and take charge of the situation. At least you’ll be in control! And that’s what this is really about.

When God doesn’t deliver what we want when we want it, we’re tempted to act like entitled children. We want to indulge the negative emotions we’re so sick of feeling, and take it out on the One who has the power to change things: “Why won’t you?! I hate you!!”

It may feel satisfying in the moment, but it doesn’t change things for the better. Instead, it makes us bitter.

The alternative, as another woman commented, is to see trials as a chance to choose between bitter and better. “Admittedly, losing my only sibling when he was 36 made me a little of both (bitter and better). I deal with it well now, I think, and the good Lord fills in my empty spaces, but the immense loss certainly does color my outlook. That is partly why I spent my successful pregnancy in disbelief. Why would we be parents after 12 years of infertility? But we are! We were honored to welcome our son into the world last year thanks to the generosity of another couple at our clinic who donated one of their embryos to us. God is good… even when our faith has just about run dry!”

It’s the truth. His timing is rarely ours. But it is perfect.

“For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  -Romans 8:28

What makes that verse “work” for some people, but not others? I’ve been asked that question many times by couples struggling through infertility — some of them lifelong Christians. How can it be that their suffering is an essential step in becoming parents? Will they ever have a baby? Why can’t it be now?

Their faith is facing a test: Their heart’s desire is not being satisfied by the God who doesn’t appear to care. How do they get Him to “work all things together for good?”

The answer is in the verse itself. All things work together for good when we love God, trust His purpose, and act according to our calling.

Is your calling to be a parent? To steward a soul — or more than one  — through life? To honor God by raising that child to know and trust Him as you do? If so, believe that God placed that desire in your heart, and recognize that, with Him, all things are possible.

The woman whose baby was born from a donated embryo lost her only sibling while battling infertility for a dozen years. She had every reason to be bitter as she struggled and struggled, but as she wrote later in her note, she clung to the promise that “all things work together for good…” — not because she was seeing it unfold in her life, but because she saw that possibility with eyes of faith. Even when her faith “had just about run dry,” she resisted the temptation to give up on God.

And He proved faithful.

When God’s timing isn’t your timing, and His ways aren’t your ways, it can be easy to get impatient, angry and bitter. You can choose to lean into those feelings and find yourself in a very dark place — emotionally, and spiritually. Or, you can lean into believing what you can’t yet see — that God is a promise-keeper who is glorified by our willingness to trust Him when life is hard.

He is at work in your life. Trust and believe. Wait and see.

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Need more encouragement as you make your infertility journey? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. The stories of ten couples who chose faith over bitterness will inspire you and renew your hope.

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1 Comment

Filed under Peace, Perspective, Trust

One response to “Bitter or Better

  1. lbkissinger

    Hi Susan! I am so glad you’re back on this blog… A very welcome gift to round two of my fertility journey. How easy it is to forget the goodness of God I experienced the first time around while waiting for my daughter. Now, I certainly battle the bitterness as I sit in disbelief that this is my lot again as I long for baby #2. Thank you for this poignant reminder of truth today…

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