Tag Archives: infertility prayer

Suffering: The Shield

Yesterday, the Holy Spirit called my attention to a particular passage in Tim Keller’s book, Prayer. It referred to the story of a woman who was widowed in her early 30’s, and then forced to flee her home country.

St. Augustine told the woman she should embrace her “bereaved and desolate condition” because…

“Her sufferings were her ‘shield’ — they defended her from the illusions of self-sufficiency and blindness that harden the heart, and they opened the way for the rich, passionate prayer life that could bring peace in any circumstance.”

So many times, readers of this blog have contacted me directly to ask: How…?

How do I let go of (the illusion of) control? How do I find strength when my dream is dying? How do I communicate with a God I don’t know or understand? How do I trust Him without knowing His plan? How do I find peace in all this uncertainty?

In that one sentence, Augustine captures the blessed paradox of infertility.

He explains that the same suffering that upends us also rescues us. It knocks us loose from our moorings, shakes us out of our sleepwalking, and frightens us into fearful attention. It compels us to cry out, “Where are you, God?!”

In the process, it protects us — from the illusion of self-sufficiency that urges us to turn our backs on God, and the semi-slumber of a comfortable life that leads us to presume we don’t need Him or His help.

Essentially, Augustine tells us…

Lucky you! Your suffering has the potential to catapult you to a new level of spiritual power and peace. How? By protecting you from the arrogant delusion that you are the god of your life. And, by inviting you to acknowledge the real God on the throne.

You’re already suffering. The question now is whether you will continue to fight for control, or acknowledge the fact that you cannot achieve it — and begin to yield.

The choice is completely yours — so, to that extent, you are in control.

Resist facing your limitations and the truth of your ongoing suffering, and it is likely to continue. Again and again, you will find yourself facing the same choice. Embrace the truth, and Augustine says your suffering “will open the way for the rich, passionate prayer life that could bring peace in any circumstance.”

I will tell you from experience, a rich, passionate prayer life can change everything — not only your perspective on your present circumstances, but also who you will become and what will occur in the life of your family. It can completely alter the trajectory of your story by making it part of God’s story, played out in your life.

See your current circumstances not as punishment, but as the Lord’s  invitation to come closer. To go deeper. To seek not just His presence, but His perfect will in all areas of your life. As Keller concludes, “There is every reason… to accept his invitation.”

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Want more help and hope? Visit www.PregnantWithHope.info and read 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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Filed under Hope, Peace, Trust