Tag Archives: forget the past

The Hardest Question II: “Is Infertility His Punishment?”

As much as most men don’t like to talk about infertility, they really aren’t eager to talk about how it makes them feel.  That doesn’t mean, though, that they aren’t wrestling with the question, “Is infertility punishment for something I did?  Something in my past that God doesn’t plan to forgive?”

Two days ago, I wrote a post about the topic of infertility as punishment – sharing the story of Rahab’s journey from deviant-society prostitute to respected wife and mother, and ancestor of Jesus.  It would seem logical that the same amazing grace would be available to men… but is it really?  Or is Rahab’s the Old Testament story that proves the exception to the rule of God’s harsh judgment?

I came across the answer this morning.

I’ve been re-reading Joseph’s story.  As a young man, he had dreams of his brothers and parents bowing down to him.  When he shared the dreams, his eleven brothers’ growing resentment of their father’s favorite son boiled over.  They plotted to kill him, then changed their minds and sold him into slavery in Egypt instead.

Many years later, Joseph had become Pharaoh’s trusted right hand – and the brothers went to Egypt seeking grain during a famine.  They didn’t recognize Joseph, but he recognized them.  That set the stage for an unforgettable encounter….

Joseph spoke harshly to them, wanting to be sure they had changed their ways before he blessed them.  They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of [what we did to] our brother…. that’s why this distress had come upon us.” Guilty consciences, combined with fear of someone else’s power over them and their future, convinced the brothers they were being punished.

The Bible says, “Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, ‘What is this that God has done to us?’” The brothers were convinced God was using their circumstances to punish them for their unforgivable crime.  No one knew their secret past but God – so this situation must be His intended vengeance.

Just like these brothers, men sometimes assume something in their past is thwarting their dreams for the future.  More than one aspiring father has confessed that fear to me….

Sean thought it was his decision to turn his back on God as a teenager.  Carlos thought it was marrying a black Protestant against his Catholic parents’ wishes.  Brent worried it was his resentment that God’s plans hadn’t matched his own.  Trey thought it was because he’d taken a charmed life for granted.  Mike thought it was because he’d been  insensitive to friends who’d needed his support when they’d struggled through infertility.  Joe worried it was because he’d been a phone-it-in Christian for years.

All these men worried that God might be holding a grudge.  That He might be keeping score and seeing this as a chance to get even.  That anything less than lifelong, heartfelt devotion and choices worthy of Jesus might be cause for punishment from a wrathful, take-no-prisoners judge.  That this might be their fault.

Joseph’s story shows how wrong they were to be afraid.

Joseph put his brothers through a series of tests designed to reveal the truth in their hearts.  When he found honesty and selflessness, he revealed his desire to bless them.  Not only did he offer food for them and their descendants, he and Pharaoh announced “the best of all Egypt will be yours.”

Their crime was never punished; in fact, Joseph explained that God had used their past actions to fulfill His plan for the future.  What had been done with bad intentions was used by God for good.

The same can be true for us.  God can take what we have done and use it – to teach us, to mature us, to bless us.  And to bless others.  What matters is not what we have done, but who we are ready to become.  Are we willing to be accountable for past actions?  Are we ready to put self aside and  trust in God’s unmerited favor?  If so, just like Joseph, God stands ready to forgive those whom He has always loved… and to bless us.

Accept His amazing grace – and join Sean, Carlos, Brent, Trey, Mike and Joe as humbly grateful fathers.

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Infertility & Forgetting the Past

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” (Philippians 3:13).

Ask anyone going through infertility whether they’re focused on the past or the future and they’ll tell you:  no contest – the future.  It’s all about becoming a family, having a baby and getting on with happily-ever-after.

But is it really?

Ask yourself, “Am I forgetting what is behind?  Have I let go of the insensitive remarks, the thoughtless comments, the useless advice?  Have I stopped dwelling on the last test result?  The last ultrasound?  The last retrieval?  Am I done grieving the failed IVF?  The miscarriage?  The latest bad news?  Am I ready to move in the direction of hope again?”

Consider this excerpt from God Calling:

“A man on a march carries only what he needs for that march.  Would you pity him if you saw him bearing, too, the overwhelming weight of the worn-out shoes and uniforms of past marches and years?  And yet, in the mental and spiritual life, man does these things.”

I know when we were in the middle of our infertility struggle, I couldn’t step outside it long enough to observe myself objectively.  Had I been able to, I would’ve seen that I was marching forward… but looking back.  I was trudging along, bearing the increasingly overwhelming weight of every heartache, failure, disappointment and scrap of bad news from our infertility journey.

I probably would have told you I was honoring our past efforts by remembering them.  But the truth is, I was also rehearsing defeat.  Unconsciously preparing for more of the same.  Without realizing it, my thoughts were affecting my actions and my choices – which was affecting what unfolded before me.

That’s why Paul writes about forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  If we release our grip on the past, and instead, lean into a future where we trust that God makes anything possible… anything truly becomes possible.  We don’t limit God with our fear.

How do we forget something so painful?  One definition of the word forget is to disregard intentionally or to overlook.   We have to intentionally disregard our past so that it doesn’t keep us from moving forward.  We have to let go of the old in order to embrace the new.

That “new” thing could be a new procedure, a new doctor, or a new reason to hope.  It could be a new perspective, a new sense of peace, or a new path to happily-ever-after.  Whatever it is, that new thing could make a big difference.

So, don’t deny what you’ve been through, but don’t let it determine what’s around the next corner.  Trust that God has a better future in store.   Trust that He’s working behind the scenes on your behalf.  And trust that letting go of the past can open the door to your future.


For more inspiration, resources and cause for hope… click this link

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