Tag Archives: Job

“Even Though…” Faith

In a world that celebrates success and immediate gratification, it’s not easy to feel gratitude for their absence. So, I aligned myself with Job after several years of failed attempts to bring a healthy baby into the world.

He experienced incredible suffering, which was compounded by his friends’ speculation on why God allowed it to happen. I had lost my father (age 55) and was struggling to conceive while caring for my newly-widowed mother as she battled leukemia. I, too, had friends who shivered at the tragedy of it all — and speculated on what God might be up to.

As with Job, my situation got worse before it got better. I’ve written several posts about the awfulness of that time, and about how much people’s insensitive remarks compounded my suffering.

But now, I want to write about the blessing-in-disguise — the seeds of “Even though…” faith that were planted during those painful, heartbreaking years.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  – Job 13:15

When I first bonded with Job, it was as a fellow sufferer — and as someone who understood how painful it is to be on the receiving end of people’s thoughtless judgments and baseless speculation. I shared his confusion at God’s apparent disinterest in my agony. Like him, I cried out for God to bless me rather than ignore me or curse me. And I cried, and cried, and cried over the unfairness of it all.

Now, many years later, I would experience all that suffering again — over and over, if necessary — in order to have the children I do and the “even though…” faith that’s resulted.

Here’s what I mean…

Even though God doesn’t always bless me on my timetable, I now believe He is always for me (Jeremiah 29:11). Even though I don’t know His plans, I now trust that they will work together with my mistakes — and even my bad choices — for good (Romans 8:28). Even though I sometimes feel alone or forgotten, I now know He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). And, even though I would not have chosen the path our infertility journey took, I now know God led us — and accompanied us — every step of the way (Isaiah 41:10).

I’ve come to a place in my spiritual life where I can paraphrase Job: “Even though He does what I don’t want more often that I would ever choose, I trust Him.”

That’s “even though…” faith.

It’s easy to trust God when all is well; it doesn’t take much spiritual strength. Infertility exposes our spiritual weakness and threatens to undermine our trust in the God who seems to be failing us. What’s really failing is our feeble faith. Will we trust a God we cannot always understand?

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”  – Isaiah 55:8-9

It’s hard to trust a plan we don’t know in advance. It’s hard to trust a God we don’t hear in the midst of the clamoring voices of friends, doctors and other “experts.” Most of all, it’s hard to let go of our illusion of control.

The seeds of “even though…” faith are planted in our hearts during these seasons of suffering and uncertainty. They grow in response to God’s grace and the tender mercies that enable us to struggle on as we cling to the hope that He will be faithful — and discover that He actually is.

“Even though…” faith learns through experience to rise above the struggles and challenges of the moment to seek the God who is above it all, in control of it all, and using it all — to bless us, to teach us, to strengthen and equip us.

It’s true, “even though…” faith becomes stronger only by being tested; and of course, we don’t welcome the tests. We do everything possible to bring them to an end! But our loving Father has a better plan. Our willingness to trust that plan — even though it takes us down a path we would never choose — prepares us to be amazing parents with incredible “even though…” faith.

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Need more encouragement on your infertility journey? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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With Friends Like That….

I’ve been re-reading Job recently, and I’ve been struck by the many ways Job’s friends acted morally and spiritually superior – even though they were wrong.  They were wrong about what was happening.  They were wrong about why.  They were wrong about God’s silence, and they were wrong about Job’s response to it.  They were wrong about almost everything.  But, that didn’t stop them.  And because they knew enough to sound credible, they caused Job tremendous grief.

Does that sound familiar?

Does anyone you know ask questions or offer insights that make you feel your struggle is somehow your fault?  That God is withholding your heart’s desire, or punishing you for some reason?  That His silence means He is ignoring your pleas?  That you deserve the life you have – but not the one you want?  That you should just give up and accept your fate?

Take another look at Job.  You’ll get a new perspective on friends like that….

Job’s three friends came to comfort Job not long after his ten children and 11,000 livestock died (all in one day).  Just before they arrived, Job broke out in painful sores from head to toe.  When the friends saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him.  “They began to weep… and sat with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

Many counselors call that the ministry of presence.  The friends didn’t offer answers or explanations, only compassionate concern expressed through silence.

But then, Job voiced his feelings about his sudden suffering and they couldn’t resist the temptation to respond.  They could not hold their tongues.  Instead, they indulged themselves in judgment of the friend they’d come to comfort.  They chose to “help” him by closing their ears and opening their mouths.

After withstanding as much as he could bear, Job responded: “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?  I also could speak like you, if you were in my place.  But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.”  Does he sound comforted?  Enlightened?  Not at all.  He’s angry, hurt, and resentful.  These are not true friends — their words only compound his grief and make him doubt God’s faithfulness — and he lets them know it.

And then, Job says, “My intercessor is my friend, as my eyes pour out tears to God….”  In other words, compassionate action speaks louder than words.  Anyone who lifts me up in prayer when I am grieving or struggling is my true friend.  If you want to do more than sit with me in silence, then actively intercede for me with the only One who can truly help me.  That would bring me comfort.

Job’s words equip us to discern who will be the true friends along this journey.  They are the listeners.  The compassionate comforters who do not pretend to know the mind of God.  The untiring intercessors who are driven by our tears to petition the only One with the power to change everything.

Do you have a friend like that?  One who will stand by you throughout this journey?  One who will pray for you when you are too exhausted to pray for yourself?  If you are fortunate enough to have a true friend — or more than one — tell them what a blessing they are to you.

If you don’t have a single friend like that, don’t despair.  You are not in this alone.  Read the lyrics of this hymn (written in 1855) and know that you do have a friend who stands with you:

What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear!  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer! Can we find a friend so faithful,who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear. May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.”

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Find more cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com, and read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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What’s Luck Got to Do with It?

Why are certain people so lucky, and others not?  Does luck play a role in ending infertility?  If so, how?  Does it affect finding the right doctor?  Choosing the right treatment?  Sustaining a pregnancy?  Having a baby?

When confronted with the challenge of persistent infertility, couples often develop a new fascination with luck.  They can’t help noticing other couples’ luck conceiving effortlessly.  They ask, “what worked for you?” – as if good luck might rub off on them.  They frequently express a desire to change their own luck, and to make it work for them (rather than against them).  They’ll come into the infertility group saying things like, “we don’t want to jinx ourselves…,” or “we’re crossing our fingers…,” or “if we get lucky this time….”

I know they just mean to hedge their bets; it’s a form of psychological self-protection.  But it’s also more than that.  Their behavior reveals an unconscious response to deep fear, rooted in the loss of control.

Fear is a predictable response to not knowing who, or what, is determining the course of events.  When those events are negative, and ongoing, their uncontrollability is frightening and destabilizing.  Is this just bad luck?  Or something worse?  Is God in this?  Playing what role?  Is He for us, against us, or a dispassionate observer?  There is an aspect of randomness to this experience.  Does anyone know what’s happening?  Can anyone do anything about it?

Couples don’t realize that – in the absence of answers to these questions – they’re tempted to default to superstitious, let’s-cover-our-bases thinking:  “If we do everything right and nothing wrong, and we cross our fingers and don’t tell a soul, maybe it will work… if we’re lucky [knock on wood].”

For millenia, God has watched people respond to uncertainty with superstition, worshiping whatever they believe will enable them to control their destiny.  When He sees us turning to luck and superstition — as if they have power — He knows we don’t actually trust Him.  Not His love or His motives.

Maybe we don’t believe He hears us and cares – at least, not about this.  Maybe we don’t feel safe in our relationship with Him, and so we don’t confront Him for fear that bad will get worse.  Maybe we feel lost to Him, or forgotten.  Maybe we feel punished and angry.  Maybe we are afraid.  Maybe all these things.  Maybe more.  Whatever the reason, we have chosen to struggle on in fear and uncertainty, rather than claim His promises and trust His faithfulness.

Is there any real alternative?  Yes – and Job, the Bible’s poster boy for suffering, shows us the way:

After a horrific series of tragic events, Job had an epiphany.  He realized that his circumstances did not destroy his faith; it was the growing, obsessive focus on his own perspective (rather than God’s) that blinded him to the truth of God’s goodness, rapidly undermining his trust and crippling his faith.

The same is often true of us.  We trust what we see from our perspective:  other people are lucky but I’m not, I’m a tragic victim in a heartbreaking story.  Meanwhile, from God’s perspective,  it looks completely different.  From His vantage point, there is cause for hope because He is at work laying the foundation for the miracle He has planned.  The facts don’t change — only the perspective.  But that changes everything.

We can cling to lucky charms, whisper superstitious phrases and cross our fingers before each set of test results.  Or, we can hand our fears to the only one who knows how the story will end, and give ourselves over to peace.  Our hearts can only have one most trusted source of hope.

Which will it be:  hedge your bets, or trust your God?

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More many more resources & cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Luck and Infertility

Today’s playful devotion to all things Irish raises the topic of luck.  Who’s lucky – and why?  We jokingly say it’s the Irish, thanks to four-leaf clovers and leprechauns.  But in all seriousness… why are certain people so lucky, and others not?  Does luck play a role in ending infertility?  If so, how?  Does it affect finding the right doctor?  Choosing the right treatment?  Sustaining a pregnancy?  Having a baby?

When confronted with the challenge of persistent infertility, couples often develop a new fascination with luck.  They can’t help noticing other couples’ luck conceiving effortlessly.  They ask, “what worked for you?” – as if the good luck might rub off on them.  They frequently express a desire to change their own luck, and to make it work for them (rather than against them).  They’ll come into the infertility group saying things like, “we don’t want to jinx ourselves…,” or “we’re crossing our fingers…,” or “if we get lucky this time….”

I know they just mean to hedge their bets; it’s a form of psychological self-protection.  But it’s also more than that.  Their behavior reveals an unconscious response to deep fear, rooted in the loss of control.

Fear is a predictable response to not knowing who, or what, is determining the course of events.  When those events are negative, and ongoing, their uncontrollability is frightening and destabilizing.  Is this just bad luck?  Or something worse?  Is God in this?  Playing what role?  Is He for us, against us, or a dispassionate observer?  There is an aspect of randomness to this experience.  Does anyone know what’s happening?  Can anyone do anything about it?

Couples don’t realize that – in the absence of answers to these questions – they’re tempted to default to superstitious, let’s-cover-our-bases thinking:  “If we do everything right and nothing wrong, and we cross our fingers and don’t tell a soul, maybe it will work… if we’re lucky [knock on wood].”

For millenia, God has watched people respond to uncertainty with superstition, worshiping whatever they believe will enable them to control their destiny.  When He sees us turning to luck and superstition as if they have power, He knows we don’t actually trust Him.  Not His love or His motives.

Maybe we don’t believe He hears us and cares – at least, not about this.  Maybe we don’t feel safe in our relationship with Him, and so we don’t confront Him for fear that bad will get worse.  Maybe we feel lost to Him, or forgotten.  Maybe we feel punished and angry.  Maybe we are afraid.  Maybe all these things.  Maybe more.  Whatever the reason, we have chosen to struggle on in fear and uncertainty, rather than claim His promises and trust His faithfulness.

Is there any real alternative?  Yes – and Job, the Bible’s poster boy for suffering, shows us the way.

After a horrific series of tragic events, Job had an epiphany.  He realized that his circumstances did not destroy his faith; it was the growing, obsessive focus on his own perspective (rather than God’s) that blinded him to the truth of God’s goodness, rapidly undermining his trust and crippling his faith.

The same is often true of us.  We trust what we see from our perspective:  other people are lucky but I’m not, I’m a tragic victim in a heartbreaking story.  Meanwhile, from God’s perspective,  it looks completely different.  From His vantage point, there is cause for hope because He is at work laying the foundation for the miracle He has planned.  The facts don’t change — only the perspective.  But that changes everything.

We can cling to lucky charms, whisper superstitious phrases and cross our fingers before each set of test results.  Or, we can hand our fears to the only one who knows how the story will end, and give ourselves over to peace.  Our hearts can only have one most trusted source of hope.

Which will it be:  hedge your bets, or trust your God?

===================================================================================

Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Filed under Control, Peace, Perspective