Category Archives: Trust

Trusting God can be difficult in the midst of infertility. Why is that? And, what happens when we do?

“It is He….”

A couple weeks ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman behind me asked, “Did you write a book?” If you could watch the next thirty seconds on a slow-motion replay, you’d laugh at how long it took me to respond. It was so out of context, and I was so surprised that a stranger would ask me, that it took me a minute to process the question.

“Yes,” I told her, “I did.” In the video replay, cartoon question marks would appear above my head. Who is this person? How does she know me?

“Was it about getting pregnant?”

I nodded, and she leaned in to confide, “I tried for so long to get pregnant. We did IVF. It was so discouraging. Then, I heard about your book from someone at church. It changed everything. We had our baby. And now, look….” she pointed to a bulging belly. “Another one! Natural!”

Happy to share in a small celebration, I congratulated her and thanked her for telling me her story. As I picked up my bag of groceries, she urged, “Keep writing your blog.”

Since then, I’ve crossed paths with two other women who’ve told me the same thing:  “Keep writing. I know someone who needs to hear the message.” One is a woman raising twins who were conceived after she’d given up hope. The other has a daughter who’s struggling to conceive and is too stoic to admit how much she’s hurting.

What can I offer them — and you? I prayed about it this morning and a Bible verse came to mind:

“It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”   – Psalm 100:3

My first-grade class memorized this Psalm for a Thanksgiving assembly many years ago. We dutifully learned the words and practiced them every day for weeks. Little did I know, that would be one of many ways in which God would plant the seeds of His truth in my heart.

Decades later, I realize the powerful message contained in that verse.

“It is He that hath made us….” My biological parents went through the motions, but God brought me into being according to His plan and purpose. Although my conception as a (very!) unplanned honeymoon baby surprised my parents, it was no surprise to God. He intended me to come into the world as the person I am and at the moment I came.

He had a very specific plan for you, too. And your spouse. And the moment you met. And the life you chose to share. And, He has a plan for the next generation of your family.

You may try to manufacture life in the womb using the most advanced techniques you can afford. You may eat the right foods, swallow the right pills, give up all the wrong habits, and follow all the weirdest advice…. But the truth of the matter is, “It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”

You don’t have the power to control when a baby will be conceived… or whether a pregnancy will last… or whether the money you spend and tests you endure will result in joy or heartache. And no honest fertility specialist can guarantee success. Nothing you do — or don’t do — can make certain what you hope for.

That privilege is God’s alone.

Embracing that knowledge — rather than resenting it, fighting it, or running from it — is an important step of humility that can make all the difference in how long, or short, the infertility journey will be.

Have you ever heard the verse:

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  – James 4:6

It is now one of my favorites — but it wasn’t always. I used to read it focused on the first half — “God opposes….” — imagining God standing in opposition to me and my plans to become an incredible mom. It took me a long time to realize that God didn’t oppose my heart’s desire. But, He opposed my believing that I had the power to be god in my own life. He opposed me leaving Him out of a process that He alone could control.

Now, I’ve learned to lean into the second half of the verse. God gives grace, favor and blessings to those who humbly acknowledge: We are not the gods of our own lives. We do not control much of anything — but thankfully, He does. And scary though it may be at times, we choose to trust Him. His plan is perfect.

He who made us… gives grace to the humble. It’s that simple. And that challenging.

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Want to learn more about the God who helps those who humbly rely on Him? Read  Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Who Can You Trust?

A few days ago, I wrote about prayer journaling and neglected to mention that, if you try it, you are likely to hear a voice that can’t be trusted. Before you can hear the Lord speak to you, you must silence it:

“Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. Learn to recognize his deceptive intrusions into your thoughts. One of his favorite deceptions is to undermine your confidence in My unconditional love. Fight back against these lies! Do not let them go unchallenged. Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me, and My presence will envelop you in Love.”  – Jesus Calling

Don’t believe there’s a battle for your mind? Then whose voice is it that whispers, “You’re not meant to have a baby. You never will. This treatment isn’t going to work. Everyone else conceives, but not you. You are defective, flawed, irreparably damaged. No birth mother would choose you, and no baby would love you. It’s not meant to be — ever — so give up, and get on with your life.”

Have you ever heard those words whispered in your spirit? Even now, years after giving birth to two children, they still unsettle me — taking me back to a time when I felt hopeless and alone. Have you ever heard similar words  and thought, what if it’s true?

Those are not the words of the God who loves you, who knows your heart aches, and who answers every prayer with love and wisdom. Those are the words of the evil one, who wants very much for you to turn your back on God. He will speak to you any time you’re willing to listen — and make this journey much harder for you to bear. He may even be able to convince you that it’s hopeless.

Unless, you choose to trust God.

If you do, rather than limp through this marathon toting a growing burden of despair, you will find the hope you need to keep going — and the strength you need to reach the day God intends: the day when you become a parent to the child who’s coming.

“Draw near to Me, and My presence will envelop you in Love.”

Claim this promise! Let God the Father comfort you, his beloved child, and whisper words that will give you hope.

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Learn more about God’s promises and the battle for your mind in Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

 

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Doubt vs. the Voice of Truth

Andy Stanley gave a great talk on doubt last Sunday (here’s a link), and what resonated most with me was what he DIDN’T say.

He didn’t say, “Real Christians never doubt God.” He didn’t say, “Doubt is evidence of weak faith — and it explains why things aren’t going well in your life.” He didn’t condemn. He didn’t judge. In fact, just the opposite.

He said: “Everyone doubts.”

Everyone.

Here’s why that’s important. Lots of couples struggling with infertility are secretly afraid that their doubt-filled faith has alienated God, and that infertility may be the direct result. Now, the question is whether to commit wholeheartedly to doubt, abandon God and embrace science in the hope that it can do what He hasn’t — or, try to keep trusting a God who can’t be seen to do something that (seemingly) can’t be done.

That’s not an easy choice. And, I’ve come to believe, that’s the point.

When life is not going according to plan, doubt gains a foothold. When you realize you are not in control of things you desperately want to control, it’s human nature to wonder whether God is working with you… or against you. That gives doubt a chance to gain ground.

When things go from bad to worse, the voice of fear starts to whisper.  Negative thoughts begin to circle like vultures, “I doubt God’s listening. I doubt He cares. I doubt this means anything to Him. I doubt He’s going to help. I doubt He’s even there.” Those thoughts can be frighteningly persuasive.

What do you do in when fear invites doubt and threatens your faith? Do you listen?

The band Casting Crowns sings,

“The voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says, ‘Do not be afraid.’ The voice of truth says, ‘This is for My glory.’ Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

Did you catch those words? “I will choose….”

Not, “I will think of myself as a victim — passive, helpless, broken, forgotten.” But, “I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

It was a challenge for us when we were trying to conceive. Doctors made (positive) predictions that didn’t come to pass. There were multiple miscarriages, failed IUIs, harrowing trips to the hospital. We felt so alone! It seemed as if we were the only ones who couldn’t conceive at will — except when we crossed paths with other worried souls in waiting rooms and hospital corridors. It was an awful, painful, where-is-God-in-all-this time in our lives.

And doubt made a run at me more than once.

I instinctively did what Andy Stanley and Casting Crowns advise: I clung to the truth. I couldn’t will the doubt away, but I held faith and doubt in two hands, and I kept them open and uplifted, believing that God somehow knew I was doing the best I could, given the circumstances.

I see now that that my willingness to hold things in two hands — rather than drop faith entirely while embracing doubt — brought Him glory. My willingness to trust Him demonstrated my faith — not just to Him, but to every person who asked me, “How do you keep hoping?” That had power. It had value. It was a witness and a testimony to the faithfulness of the God I chose to trust.

Don’t get me wrong: I was afraid. I was full of doubt. I cried more often than I can remember. But, as soon as I could muster the strength, the courage, the will to choose to believe that God was still good and still in control, I would lift my hope to Him and pray, “Please, Lord. Show me that my faith is not misguided. Help me not to be afraid. Help me trust You.”

Don’t endure a season of struggle and grief without meaning. Make it a season of spiritual growth for you and glory for God. Despite your doubts about the future, choose to believe...

“All things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  -Romans 8:28

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For more messages of hope in the midst of infertility, read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

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The Next Generation of IVF Miracles

Time Magazine just released a story on Augment, a procedure not yet approved in the U.S., which it hails as the “the next generation of IVF.” According to the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, “We could be on the cusp of something incredibly important.”

What is it? A process of harvesting mitochondria from a woman’s ovarian cells to recharge her feeble eggs and energize the fertilization process. The result? It yields “a night-and-day difference in the number of strong embryos” a couple can produce compared to traditional IVF. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it’s starting to generate healthy embryos that are enabling formerly-desperate couples to become new parents.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news? Because the process involves mixing cutting-edge science with stem cells and conception, it’s likely to be controversial — just as IVF was in 1978, when the world met the first “test-tube baby.” So religious leaders, politicians and more than a few strangers and family members will feel compelled to weigh in on God’s behalf. To speak to you for Him, as if He cannot speak to you Himself.

That’s one of the hardest parts of infertility: the barrage of unsolicited, gratuitous advice — accompanied by the clear assumption that you cannot talk with God directly. It can be offensive, hurtful, demeaning and disheartening.

And unnecessary… because God can speak for Himself.

And He does.

That happened today when I heard Casting Crowns’ “The Voice of Truth.” The song’s verses describe situations of feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped, and of thinking, “I can’t!” — and then the chorus says…

“The voice of Truth tells me a different story. The voice of Truth says, ‘Do not be afraid.’ The voice of Truth says, ‘This is for My glory.’ Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of Truth.”

It made me think, I don’t know if Augment will turn out to be all its developers’ claim. And I don’t think we should charge into a Brave New World without grappling with moral and ethical issues as they arise. But I believe God is a Creator who never stops creating. And, as my physician father used to tell his patients, “Sometimes God does His work through other people. They are the miracle.”

So, here’s what I suggest. Read the article. Find hope in the fact that God has created scientists and doctors with a desire to help you conceive. Trust that He is well able to guide you through the moral and ethical uncertainties — to where He intends you to stand on this issue. He can and will speak to your heart about whether this is right for you if you ask Him, “Lord, what would have me do?” Just as in the song I heard — the voice of Truth will say, “Do not be afraid. This is for My glory,” and you will know whether that means YES or NO.

Either way, thank God for the hope He continues to give you as you make this journey.

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For more inspiration, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

 

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“Our God is Truly Awesome”

A few days ago, I wrote about the minister and his wife who adopted twins after despairing that they might never become parents. They were matched within weeks of presenting their profile to the adoption agency, and they flew across the country to witness the births of their boys. What a story of God’s incredible goodness!

Some of you who are in the depths of despair over your own infertility struggles may be tempted to argue that that story sounds like a fairy tale — that things like that don’t happen to people like you, and that it’s unlikely to change your circumstances if you trust a God who seems to be failing you already.

I understand those feelings. I wrestled with anger and resentment for years as we attempted to start our family.

So, here’a another story — with a very different outcome.

Jovita Nwaugwu was unable to conceive after years of fertility treatments. She discovered this blog and, through it, the book Pregnant With Hope. She emailed me recently asking for an opportunity to share her story with you. Rather than paraphrase her testimony, I will just post it here in her own words:

“Hello Susan,

I emailed you years ago about how to pray when you are struggling to conceive. Now, I want to share my testimony…

After 7 years of fertility treatment and no success, I decided to seek God seriously. During that time, I realized God does not owe me a child. I changed my spiritual environment and started fasting and praying to know when to stop the fertility treatments. Finally, my pastor told me it was time.

I prayed for a confirmation. It was time for us to start fertility treatments again and my husband refused. He said, “God doesn’t want us to go back for any further treatment.” Even though he had wanted us to go back to treatments, he suddenly changed his mind. I said okay, and I thanked God for His confirmation by my husband’s refusal.

This was in 2014. Then my husband said, “Let’s see what God has for us this year.” This was in April/May.

In August, I found out I was pregnant. Usually, when I’m pregnant, my progesterone level is low and my pregnancy ends up in miscarriage, but this time my progesterone level was perfect. I started thanking, trusting and believing God.

My daughter was born on March 17th and her name is Grace Ogechi. “Ogechi” means “in God’s time.”

Please, I want you to continue encouraging your readers. Your book, Pregnant With Hope, gave me all the hope I needed to go through the wilderness of infertility — and God saw me through. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy journey, but God was with me from start to finish. Our God is truly Awesome and doesn’t share His glory.”

And all God’s people said, Amen.

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For more help and hope, visit PregnantWithHope.info and read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

 

 

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“He Lifted Me….”

Several years ago, when I was leading a group of infertile couples through the Pregnant With Hope bible study, a minister’s wife shared her story. She and her husband had tried to conceive for years, but she’d never been able to carry a baby to term. Meanwhile, her husband was climbing into the pulpit every Sunday morning to preach the goodness of God. It felt like living a lie, and it became an impossibly difficult situation.

As a dark cloud of despair and resentment began to settle on both of them, he took a leave of absence from the church, and they sought comfort away from their inquisitive congregation.

Like all of us who have struggled with infertility, they wrestled with self-pity. It is, as Jesus Calling affirms:

“…a slimy, bottomless pit. Once you fall in, you tend to go deeper and deeper into the mire. As you slide down those slippery walls, you are well on your way to depression, and the darkness is profound.”

When they arrived at our group’s first meeting, they were hoping for little more than commiserating community. But over the course of ten weeks, they opened their minds and hearts to the messages of the lessons. They came to see that they had fallen into a “pit” of self-pity by ceasing to trust a God who wasn’t responding on their timetable, who didn’t seem to share their vision, and who failed to explain His reasoning — in other words, a God they could not control.

They came to a fork in the spiritual road: They could choose to trust God’s plan rather than their own, or they could reject Him and continue to struggle on without Him.

Jesus Calling says:

“Your only hope is to look up and see the Light of My presence shining down on you. Though the Light looks dim from your perspective deep in the pit, those rays of hope can reach you at any depth. While you focus on Me in trust, you rise ever so slowly out of the abyss of despair. Finally, you can reach up and grasp My hand. I will pull you out into the Light again.”

They came to the realization that God was their only hope. With or without children, He was the source of every good thing in their lives. They would trust Him, even if they did not understand why He would not enable them to conceive.

They surprised themselves by deciding to try adoption. The bible study had led them to the realization that God creates families in many ways, and they saw their decision as an exercise in obedience. Despite being told that they were unlikely to match — “Birth mothers may be put off by the fact that you’re in ministry, and they may not like that you’re older than most new parents” — they believed they were honoring God with this unexpected leap of faith.

A few weeks after submitting their profile, they got a phone call. Would they consider adopting newborn twins?

I still get chills when I tell this story because — as she told me when she called with the news — “no one but God knew we’d always been praying for twins.”

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”  – Psalm 40:2-3

He lifted….

They trusted, and He lifted.

They stopped resenting and started releasing. They let go and let God. And He did what He’d always planned to do. He blessed them — in His way, on His timetable, according to His plan.

Are you tired of trying to force God’s hand? Of begging and pleading for your dream to come true? Before you slide any further down into the pit of self-pity, lift your eyes up off your circumstances and focus on the only One with the power to change your story.

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”  – Psalm 147:11

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Want to hear more stories of couples whose despair turned to hope? Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and visit PregnantWithHope.info

 

 

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The Ultimate Luxury

After a frantic start this morning, I decided to go to Whole Foods for a late breakfast. I tucked into the corner booth — as far as possible from the noise of checkout registers — and began to read my newspaper. I could feel myself starting to unwind. About 10 minutes later, an employee walked over and said, “Most of the people who come here are on their phones, on their laptops, having a meeting before work…. They all seem so stressed. It’s nice to see someone relax.”

As he walked away, I thought to myself, it’s the ultimate luxury.

I don’t know what you consider a “fair share” of life’s challenges, but I could certainly argue that I’ve had mine. Looking back over the arc of those many experiences, I have to say that each one has taught me to turn to God sooner and sooner. I guess I’ve been a slow learner — because I’ve had lots of chances to practice! — but it’s true: I’ve learned to release everything to Him and His plan, trusting that His ultimate purpose is to bless me and bless others through me. Whatever the details of the outcome, I’ve discovered I can trust Him in the midst of chaotic uncertainty. And so, I can actually relax. Maybe not completely… and maybe not for long… but even for a few minutes….

What.  A.  Gift.

Do people keep telling you to relax? That it’s easier to conceive if you’re not so stressed? Which just makes you more stressed?! Would it seem like an incredible gift to be in the midst of infertility and yet be able to relax? Able to trust that the One who loves you has things under control? Even if you don’t see how that could be possible?

Then consider a different approach. Call it an experiment in trust. How about, for just a day, letting God be vigilant and in control so you can rest. And maybe even, relax a little. Not too much, if that’s too hard. Just for a few minutes…, but long enough to realize that you can let go and He won’t.

My sister used to say to me, “Leap and the net will appear.” Wow, that sounded scary — definitely not relaxing. It was her way of telling me that I couldn’t be sure of God’s faithfulness without testing my reliance on it. To get from my circumstances to peace, I would have to take a leap of faith.

So today, think about taking your own leap. Whether it’s large or small matters less than that you let go long enough to realize that the Lord has got you in the palm of His hand.

“Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.”  – John 14:27

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Want more resources, help and hope? Visit www.pregnantwithhope,info.

 

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