Tag Archives: God’s promise

The One “Fix” That Never Fails

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re getting the same message again and again?  You read something and a particular turn of phrase speaks to you.  It nudges you, and your spirit responds.  Then, you hear a song on the radio.  As you begin to sing along, you realize the lyrics are conveying the same idea.  Then, someone starts talking to you about something completely unrelated, and you hear those same words again.

Is it just a coincidence?

I don’t think so.

That message is everywhere for a reason.

I believe the Bible’s promise that all things work together for good for those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose.  And I believe that promise extends beyond all major life events to include all the small details of any given day.

How can that be?  Here’s how.  Every part of life that we invite God into gives Him an opportunity to speak to us, to comfort and encourage us, to bless us, and to guide us in the direction He intends for us to go.  If we give it all to Him, He can use it all for our good.

Recently, every time I turn around, I’ve been getting reminded of God’s unfailing love.  That word – “unfailing” – has been coming at me from all directions.  And the details of what that means and how it works have been coming at me, too.  So clearly, it’s important for me to be thinking about that in all aspects of my life.

Maybe it’s important for you, too.

Here are a few of the expressions of God’s unfailing love that have crossed my path in the past few days:

Promises of Scripture – “…the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.”  “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.”  “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”  “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”  “…those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”  “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”

Song Lyrics – “Everything you hold in your hand, and still you make time for me… I can’t understand.  How beautiful is your unfailing love.”  “Lead, Lord, with unfailing love… and we will sing as we go on: Our God is faithful.”  “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.”

Other Words of Hope – A recent Joel Osteen sermon urged listeners to “get in agreement with God’s promises to bless you and not to curse you, to prosper you and not to harm you, to fulfill your dream of a child….”  He shared stories of several infertile couples who trusted God’s unfailing love, and are now parents.  On a walk last week, I encountered a 7’ tall heart in front of a tiny local church bearing the words, “Love never fails.”

Tangible Evidence – Two couples from the infertility Bible study who’ve struggled for years to conceive just succeeded!  One couple conceived twins through IVF after multiple IVF miscarriages.  The other couple conceived naturally after a surgery the doctors said was “unlikely to make a statistically significant difference” in the odds of conceiving.  The doctors may have forecasted failure, but God’s unfailing love defied the odds.

For me, these reminders have been a nudge to express the gratitude I feel for my own experiences of God’s unfailing love.  For you, they may be a reminder.  Or they may be a promise.  Or both.  Whatever your take on them, I’m convinced the God whose love never fails is at work in your little corner of the world.

Ask Him to remind you that His love is constant and never-ending.    It wants nothing less than the very best for you.  It wills the best, plans for the best, promises the best, and works for the best.  It is an amazing, unmerited, priceless gift.  And it’s all yours.

Claim it.

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Want more inspiration on your infertility journey?  Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

 

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Celebrity Infertility: Their Struggle is Our Blessing

Less than six months ago, Bill and Giuliana Rancic made headlines when they publicly acknowledged their attempts to conceive through IVF.  They didn’t wait until they had good news to share.  Instead, they chose to cast a spotlight on the struggle that’s so rarely openly discussed.

When their story appeared in an October 2010 issue of People magazine, I called it a paradigm shift for the publication that’s often considered a social barometer for America, saying:

“Typically, People magazine stories reinforce the myth that celebrities conceive effortlessly – implying that those of us who don’t and can’t are somehow ‘less than.’  That false narrative causes pain and reinforces feelings of failure among many infertile couples.”

Well, now it seems as if the dam has truly broken.  More and more of the stories behind the baby announcements are being shared publicly:

– Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced the arrival of their second daughter, born via surrogate, and implied that struggles with secondary infertility had led them to a gestational carrier.

– Celine Dion openly discussed her five failed IVF’s, and her decision to keep trying to conceive despite her Catholic upbringing and the Pope’s condemnation of assisted reproduction.

– Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo fathered a boy via surrogate, revealing his international sex symbol status did not equate with fertility.

– Openly gay stars Ricky Martin, Elton John and Neil Patrick Harris used egg donors and surrogates to conceive their much-desired genetic offspring.

Maybe it’s just my enthusiasm for transparency and full disclosure, but it seems like there’s a pattern emerging here:  lots of people struggle with infertility, and more and more of them are willing to say so – or at least, to let us put two and two together.

Why is that so exciting?

Because, in hindsight, I’m convinced Bill & Giuliana’s story in People magazine did more than unveil the truth that conceiving isn’t always easy.  Their revelation signaled the beginning of the end.  The end of secrecy and stigma and shame.  The end of fearing judgment and rejection, of doing everything possible to avoid exposure, and of lying about the real story behind the façade of effortless conception.

Have celebrities’ normalized the very common experience of infertility?  Not fully.  But with every story, there’s a little less gasping and pointing, and a little more compassion.

How do I know?

Well, look at letters to the editor of magazines like People.  If theyre any indication of the public consensus, the vast majority of Americans understand the desire to create families, and they feel genuine sympathy for those who struggle to do so.  Celebrities’ open acknowledgements of the reproductive hurdles they’ve faced – and the joy they’ve experienced in surmounting them – is making this taboo topic less and less taboo.

I think that’s a blessing that’s long overdue.

There’s a wonderful verse in Isaiah that promises:  “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

Who knew we’d be claiming this promise, in part, through the likes of Celine, Elton and Nicole?  Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

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Victory on God’s Terms

I’ve just finished reading the biography of Rees Howells, a Welsh minister from the early 20th century.  It arrived in my mailbox months ago, tattered and disintegrating, held together by a rubber band.  A gift from a reader of this blog.

I don’t remember exactly why the woman said she sent it.  I tucked it on a shelf thinking I might get to it someday.  When a snowstorm iced us into the house indefinitely, the book jumped off the shelf into my hand and I began to read.

What a story.

The book narrates Rees Howells’ decision to say ‘yes’ to every leading from the Holy Spirit – no matter how difficult, unnerving, or humbling – and the amazing life journey that resulted.  One particular story captured my imagination.  It was the only story of (apparent) failure….

Howells had been praying for weeks for a woman in a nearby village who was dying.  It was the first time he’d ever prayed so passionately for God to save a life.  Suddenly, he felt in his spirit that she would be healed completely. He joyfully shared this news with her, and they were both confident of victory.  But then, to his great surprise, she died suddenly.  It was devastating for him.  How could God have promised life, and yet she died?

According to Howells, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that God had responded to his prayers by healing the woman’s body just before she died.   And the woman knew it.  “She was shaking hands vigorously and saying ‘goodbye’ [to friends and family] with such excitement, as if she was going on a wonderful adventure.”  She knew she’d been fully healed; she also knew that she was going to be with God.  It was complete victory, and she was exuberant.

But Howells’ wasn’t.  When he heard she’d died, he felt true spiritual distress.  Why, if she had regained her health, did the woman have to die?  What was God’s purpose in this outcome?

The Holy Spirit revealed that if the woman had lived, Howells would have been tempted to bask in the glory – as if he had saved her himself.  Everyone in the village had known about his prayer campaign.  He would’ve received the glory; not God.  But he hadn’t cured her.  He couldn’t.  Only God could.  And He did.

By curing her just before taking her to be with Him, God received the full measure of glory (in both the woman’s gratitude, and her demonstrated eagerness to be with Him), and Howells received the assurance that his prayers were powerful and effective.

The world just couldn’t see the victory.

When I read that story, I got a text-to-self jolt of adrenaline.  That epiphany feeling that told me God was showing me something important.  Victory sometimes looks like failure …. The world can’t see or understand it….  There is temptation to bask in the glory of a desired outcome….  A promise can come from God and be fulfilled, yet not save the life that was prayed for….

I realized that I had felt like Howells – as if God had made a promise to my spirit, and yet what I saw was not life, but death.  It happened with our twins – the first children we conceived after a long battle with infertility.

Like Howells, we’d shared the good news when we’d received God’s promise (in our case, in the form of two beating hearts).  And, like Howells, we’d assumed we knew exactly how the story would unfold:  good news would be followed by good health, and good health by long life.

At the time, we didn’t think much about giving God glory.  We were too caught up in the excitement, and the anticipation of something amazing.  Were we tempted to bask in the glory of bringing the first grandchildren into the world?  Maybe a little.  But we would’ve said at the time that that was harmless.

When their hearts stopped beating – first Baby A’s, and then several weeks later, Baby B’s – we were consumed with grief and a spiritual distress much like Howells’.  We had succeeded, and yet we had failed.  A vision of the future as a family had come from God and been fulfilled (to a point), and yet the lives that were prayed for had ended suddenly.

Like Howells, we could see the failure… but not the victory.  Until years later, when our two children were born.  Despite being 22 months apart, people often ask us, “Are they twins?”  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  I think that is victory… on God’s timetable, and on God’s terms.

To God be the glory. 

 

 

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Sow in Tears, Reap with Joy

It can be very disheartening to hear other couples’ success stories.  We listen thinking they may spark our own hope or offer some inspiration.  But more often than not, someone else’s success just reinforces our own sense of having been singled-out for suffering – compounding a growing sense of isolation and despair.

I had no intention of including infertile couples’ success stories when I wrote Pregnant With Hopein  part, because I’d already worked for nearly a year to transcribe the messages from the infertility Bible study.  But also, I anticipated a negative response from the still-struggling couples who’d be reading the book.

God knew better.

During a long walk, He made very clear that I was not done writing.  I needed to find ten couples to share their stories – in their own words, using their real names.  “That’ll never happen!” I argued.  “No one will agree to that.”

God pushed me to try.

Amazingly, ten of the twelve couples I asked said, “Yes.”

Why was it so important to include their stories?  Because they fulfill a promise of scripture  — one  which God intends to fulfill in your life, too:  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

That promise is at the heart of Pregnant With Hope.  It is the common element in all ten of the stories told by the couples featured in the book.

All of them came to our group barely clinging to anything resembling hope.  Most had experienced multiple miscarriages, numerous failed IVFs, and countless trips to doctors’ offices.  Some had also undergone major surgeries, lost family members, battled cancer….  They were completely exhausted by the journey.

Experience had taught them to expect only failure and heartache.  Increasingly, the “experts” agreed:  the odds were not good, and getting worse.  So, they sowed in tears – grieving their losses while continuing to cast seeds of hope.  Some sought new doctors, new tests or new protocols.  Others felt led to plow effort into creating profiles, finding adoption lawyers and scheduling home studies.  All of them chose to trust the God of miracles.

And all ten couples reaped incredible blessings.

They’re all parents now, as are many, many couples who’ve come after them.  Whether by conception or adoption, egg donation or surrogacy, they will tell you with absolute conviction:  this is the baby who was always meant for us.

Why are their stories so inspiring?  Because all ten couples, each in their own way and in the context of their unique story, dramatically demonstrate the power of the prayer:  Thy will be done.  All of them discovered the power of letting go, of trusting God’s timing, and of believing that their infertility was not the end of the story.

On the surface, each journey may have seemed doomed and hopeless.  In the natural, there was no reason to believe joy was coming.  But in the spiritual realm, God was blessing the seeds of hope they’d sown in tears.  He was honoring their faith with His faithfulness.  And they all “reap(ed) with songs of joy.”

Live into God’s promise and you will, too.

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Are you sowing in tears with no sense of hope?  Please let me  pray for you.  Email me:  susan@pregnantwithhope.com.

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