Tag Archives: bitterness

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.


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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Filed under Peace, Perspective, Trust

Bitterness and Acceptance

A new subscriber to this blog writes about her infertility journey in EggsInARow.  In a recent post, she asked, “When does the bitterness go away and the acceptance come?”

That’s the kind of question that can cast a sudden pall over the room when couples gather to talk about infertility.  Why?  Because acceptance implies defeat, and no one wants to consider that possibility…. But everyone constantly does.  A few fearless souls do so publicly.  Some, like EggsInARow, ponder it anonymously.  Many, many more struggle in secret.

The deepest fear in every heart, though, is that acceptance of defeat may be the destination to which this road leads.  Childlessness.  Forever.  Is that the inevitable outcome?  If so, how do you know when it’s time to give up?  And if not, how do you keep hope alive?

The temptation, when we don’t know how the story will unfold, is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  To squint into the future and see what’s coming so that we’ll have time to brace ourselves if it’s bad, and to lean into joy if it’s good.  That sense of informed anticipation enables us to maintain the illusion of control when – deep down – this whole thing feels out-of-control.

Is that the best we can do?  Prepare ourselves to relinquish bitterness in favor of acceptance?  Then just wait for the inevitable?


And, no.

Yes, it’s wise to relinquish bitterness.  Choosing to cling to it affirms a sense of being victimized, mistreated, and unfairly punished.  It fuels the self-pity that undermines hope.  It poisons the spirit and burdens the heart.  Intentionally or not, it encourages us to consider God a liar because it refuses to believe that “all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28).

What about acceptance?  Should we relinquish that, too?  Or embrace it?  Honestly, both.  We should relinquish the acceptance that is an expression of despair.  The voice that tells us, “There’s no hope.  You’ll never have a baby.”  That kind of acceptance trusts the lies of God’s enemy more than God Himself.

Remember:  God can do anything!  The fact that you cannot see or envision how He could make you a parent doesn’t mean you won’t be one.  The appearance of impossibility may be setting the stage for a miracle.  Or, it may be redirecting your path away from the way you imagined this unfolding to the path that leads to God’s best – for you, and for the child He already has planned for you.

So, don’t accept defeat.  Accept the fact that you are not in control.  And then decide:  will I see that as cause for despair, or cause for hope?  If you humbly acknowledge your need for God’s help and invite Him to guide your steps —  wherever that may lead — there’s definitely cause for hope.  If you put your energy into trusting, rather than controlling, you are headed for joyful good news.

It’s your choice.

Wait and see.


For more inspiration and cause for hope, get a copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Filed under Control, Hope, Peace