Tag Archives: Peace

When the Plan Changes

As you may have noticed, this blog went dark for a few months. The reason, and the lessons I learned, might interest you. So, here goes….

In early January, our daughter went from school to the Emergency Room to the ICU in less than 24 hours. It was a harrowing ordeal that was followed by nearly three weeks in the hospital. After 3 surgeries, she now has two new scars to join the ones from the open heart surgery she underwent when she was just 4 weeks old.

Talk about traumatic. This is not how 2016 was supposed to begin. At least, not according to my plan. Clearly, the Lord had other plans. So, I got yet another chance to learn the lesson He wants me to remember: His ways are not my ways, but I can still trust Him.

Is He trying to teach you the same lesson? How has your 2016 started? Is everything going according to plan, or has your plan been changed by His?

There was a story in today’s paper that helped me think about this from a safe emotional distance. It was about a family in Clovis, CA that had a plan, “but God had a different plan, and it’s far better.” Reading it reminded me that we may not always understand what God’s up to in real time, but He has promised that “all things work together for good for those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose” [Rom 8:28].

Here’s the story…. Bryan and Tamera had one biological daughter. At age 6, she asked her parents, “We’re gathering all these clothes and toys for orphans, but isn’t what orphans really need a family?” They prayed over her question, and it led them to adopt a baby girl from China. When they visited the orphanage, they saw countless kids with special needs.

That moment led to the adoption of 8 kids over several years — 7 of them with disabilities (4 are missing limbs, 2 have spina bifida). Bryan and Tamera say their adopted children give them “front-row seats to everyday miracles. That’s a blessing.”

My circumstances are completely different from theirs. But I share their perspective. I’ve witnessed several miracles in my daughter’s short life. She, and the many people who worked those miracles, are all a blessing. They are tangible evidence of God’s favor and grace, and of His amazing plan. I am humbled  and deeply grateful when I consider what could have happened, but did not.

All is well — maybe not forever, but for today. And I have a renewed sense of gratitude for the One from whom all blessings flow. I don’t know His plans, but I am learning — again and again — to let go and trust that He is good.

You can, too.

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Need more encouragement and cause for hope? Or a better understanding of the God who is longing to be central to your story? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

 

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Therefore, We Do Not Lose Hope

Several years ago, I suddenly stopped writing this blog. What I didn’t tell you was that life had taken an unexpected turn… as it often does… and everything I’d ever written was being put to the test.

It started when a doctor told my husband he had Stage 3 colon cancer and offered sobering odds of survival. Surgery was scheduled immediately, and chemo began soon afterward. My husband continued to see his patients while fighting for his life. His pallor and weight loss went unnoticed only because the patients were so consumed with their own struggles.

As he fought for the health of his body, I wrestled with God for his life.

I had released any claim to our children’s lives long before — when our daughter had had open heart surgery at 4 weeks old, and when I’d miscarried our son’s twin and spent 5 months on bedrest in the hope that he’d survive. Those challenges had seemed all-consuming at the time. I had found peace only by entrusting their lives to the God who’d first entrusted them to us.

But my husband had been my rock. Naive as it may sound, it had never occurred to me that his life could suddenly end. When that possibility became a very present reality, we got scared. And I got angry.

I fought with God around-the-clock. I railed at the injustice. I begged for mercy. I pleaded and negotiated and tried everything I could think of to sway the outcome.

And then finally, exhausted and powerless, I surrendered. I opened my hands and admitted that I could not control things; I could only trust the God who claims to love me.

Over many, many tears, I acknowledged the Lord’s right to take away what He had given and to test my willingness to live what I believe. Despite my fear and anticipatory grief, like Abraham, I put my beloved on the sacrificial altar and prepared to fulfill my promise to trust God even when His ways are not my ways.

And I was flooded with peace.

I knew in my spirit that He would care for me. He would be my beloved, my provider, my comforter, and my source of hope. He would never fail me. His promises would be fulfilled in every way I needed them to be.

Tears of grief gave way to tears of gratitude as I embraced the truth of His faithfulness and His promise, “I am with you always.”

Fast forward….

My husband survived. He’s now cancer-free — back to running, practicing medicine, and helping raise our children.

Why tell you this story? Because words of encouragement don’t matter if I’m not facing trials, too. And, because pollyanna posts can wear thin, but the Truth has a power of its own….

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid… for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  – Deuteronomy 31:6

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Want to hear more about the God who makes all things possible? Order your copy of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples today.

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National Infertility Awareness Week

It’s National Infertility Awareness week.  Could you be any more aware of how hard it is to conceive?  Well then, rather than seeing this week as salt rubbing into an already gaping wound, consider these words from Jesus Calling:

“Peace is my continual gift to you.  Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My peace.  The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me.  Similarly, I give you sufficient peace for the present, when you come to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving.  If I gave you permanent peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency.”

Whoa….

I wish I’d understood that when we were we struggling through infertility.  The sense of barely having enough peace to make it through the day – or the next few minutes – is not a sign of God’s absence, but of Christ’s Presence.  He does not intend to strengthen us to the point of self-sufficiency.  That is our goal; not His.

His goal is to teach us minute-to-minute reliance on Him.  Our reliance is a constant reminder that He keeps the promise, “I am with you always.”  Our neediness is a constant reminder that He is sufficient for every need.    Our inability to find peace apart from Him is a blessing because it returns us – again and again — to the only Source of strength that can overcome all things.

So, welcome National Infertility Week as a worldly reminder that millions of infertile couples need peace, hope, and compassionate love as they make their way toward the future of parenthood.  You are not alone, and neither are they.  He has promised, “I am with you always.”

Seek Him, and find peace.

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Need more encouragement and cause for hope?  Click this link to order your copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Worth the Journey

My husband pointed out something interesting in scripture yesterday, and I realized there’s a parallel in the infertility journey.

As the Israelites were heading toward the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them that there would be specific geographic boundaries for this new homeland.  It would be bordered by certain rivers, seas, gorges and hill country.  It wouldn’t be just anywhere — someplace they’d call good enough.  “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon,” he told them, “and from the Euphrates River to the western sea. “

What’s so interesting about that?

God’s people were being led to a specific destination, a particular future chosen for them by the God who’d planned and overseen every step of their journey.

How is that like the infertility journey?

You may not feel as if you’re headed anywhere specific.  You may not sense yourself making forward progress at all.  But there is a precise destination, already seen clearly by the God who guides your steps, out there on your life’s horizon.  Of course, you can choose to quit traveling any time.  You can choose to pitch a tent at any point on your journey and announce, “I’ve had it.  This is it for me.  I’m stopping here.”

But, that’s not where God’s leading you.  And His very best won’t be waiting there.

In fact, if you choose a stopping point outside the parameters of His perfect will for you, you may end up settling somewhere that was never meant to be your future.  Of couse, God won’t stop you from making a life for yourself there.  Some of the Israelites chose not to cross the Jordan – even though they were a stone’s throw from their promised future.  Just like them, you have free will.  So, it’s your choice.  But, He’s definitely leading you to a very specific destination.  A very best future.

Moses told God’s people, “… the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”  It was their destination.  He wanted to remind the weary travelers that their journey would end in abundant blessings – but only if they followed God’s lead and made a life for themselves within the boundaries of His perfect plan.

The same holds true for you.

This journey may be nothing like what you expected.  It may seem as if you’ve been wandering in the wilderness, searching for the future you thought God had planned for you, forever.  It may seem as if you’re further and further from the dream that your heart has clung to — as if it’s past time to take charge of this endless journey and bring it to a close.  You can… but I hope you won’t.

You are not lost to God.  He has been guiding your steps all along, leading you toward the future He planned for you.  Don’t insist on following your preconceived ideas about how long this should take, or which route will get you where you want to go.  Trust that God knows what He’s doing – and why – and that He’s working in and through your circumstances, even now.

Don’t let impatience keep you from His very best for you.  The Promised Land of parenthood is not as far off as you think.  More importantly, the Lord knows exactly where it is — and exactly when you’ll get there.   Trust Him enough to keep pressing on, anticipating the joy of reaching the destination He’s always had in mind for you.

When you reach your Promised Land — when years’ worth of effort, and countless hours worth of worry, finally come to an end — you will know it was worth trusting God’s perfect plan.

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For more encouragement and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.  Click this link to order a copy today.

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Tired of This Journey

Ruth’s comment on my last post read, in part:  “I’m weary and tired of this journey….”  Soon after reading it, I read these words in my husband’s devotional book, Jesus Calling:

“Come to me for rest and refreshment.  The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary.”

There are moments like that of such grace, such gentle tenderness, that it’s absolutely clear to me that the Lord understands everything we’re going through.  Still, when the suffering continues, when exhaustion threatens to leave us in a heap on the ground, we’re tempted to conclude:  He may understand, but He sure doesn’t care.

Consider the next few sentences from today’s devotion:

“See it [your exhaustion] as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.  Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different.  Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be.”

That means, let go.

You have to find a way to make peace with the idea that this journey is no accident.  You are here for a reason.  It’s where Jesus wants you to be — for a purpose.  Struggling to stay in faith without knowing precisely what that purpose is remains one of the greatest challenges of infertility.

“Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against the world, the flesh and the devil.”

Sound too strong?  Even melodramatic? Think of it this way…

Are you sick of magazine cover stories about pregnant teens?  Of hearing friends and family members joyfully announce, “I’m pregnant”?  Of feeling tempted to indulge your bad moods with a few choice words, or your frustration with another bout of tears?  Of doubting your hope, questioning your faith, and wishing you did have the power to play God just this once?

Yes?

That’s the constant battle He’s talking about – and we’re all fighting it, all the time.

So, how do we renew our hope?  Strengthen our faith?  And set aside the desire to be God, so that He can do that in our lives?

“… do not give up!  Hope in Me, for you will again praise Me for the help of My presence.”

In other words, realize that your mindset determines your proximity to Christ.  He never moves.  He never abandons or forsakes you.  NEVER.  “I am with you always.”  You can choose to draw near to Him by bringing Him your burdens – of fear, fatigue, confusion, despair, grief and anger.  He has promised, “I will give you rest.”

How?  By the peace-giving power of His presence.

Do you find it impossible to sense that presence?

Then lay down.  Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Slowly.  Rest your hands on your belly and let it rise… and fall….rise… and fall…rise… and fall.  And then ask Him, “Jesus, do you know how tired I am?  My spirit needs to rest.  Please, give me peace.”

I promise, He will.

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Predicting the Future

Raise your hand if you’d like to be able to predict the future.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know how the story’s going to unfold?  Whether you’re going to conceive – and when?  Or whether you’re not?  Whether you’re going to adopt a healthy, beautiful baby?  Or whether, at some point, you’ll move on to live life without children?

What will happen?

Wouldn’t you give anything to know?

You’re not alone.

A friend confessed to me that she’s begun seeing a psychic.  Her need-to-know overcame her initial unease, and she made an appointment.  Reassured by the predictions she was given, she quickly became addicted.  She’s now a regular, allocating portions of each week’s budget to psychic predictions.

The “need” to know can make us all do crazy things.

This morning, I read about a king turning to his captive for dream interpretation. It seemed crazy to his royal counselors, but threatened by a dream he could not understand, Pharaoh called on Joseph to tell him what it meant for the future.  Generations later, Nebuchadnezzar asked the same of Daniel.

These rulers were used to absolute power.  But, they knew they were at the mercy of an unseen, unknown future.  They needed to know what was coming — and God’s followers knew Someone with the answers.

When Pharaoh called for Joseph to explain his dream’s meaning, Joseph responded, “I cannot do it, but God will….”  Daniel had a similar exchange with Nebuchadnezzar.  He said, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who can….”

The prideful arrogance of both kings made them want to resist God, but their urgent need to know caused them to humble themselves – briefly – and admit, “I need to know what God has to say to me.”

There have been times – especially recently – when sobering statistics have made me want to know the future with certainty.  The doctor has told me the odds of a particular outcome and I’ve felt a surge of fear.  And a need to know.  In the moment, I’m tempted to attribute god-like powers to the doctor so that he can tell me what will happenBut he can’t really.

He can speculate, based on the available test results and those who’ve covered this same ground before us.  He can make an educated guess.  He can even pretend to know (like my friend’s psychic).  But the truth is, he doesn’t know.  Only God knows.

And only God can tell me, if He so chooses.

If He doesn’t?  Then, like my friend, I can create false gods.  I can resort to substitute sources of information — people who believe in their ability to predict my future (especially if I’m paying them).  I can tell myself to trust them, and project onto them a level of knowledge and understanding that they don’t actually have.  I can choose to believe, “now, I know” and put my energy into proving them right.

But experience has taught me, none of that will bring peace.

Or, I can follow the kings’ example.  I can recognize my limitations – and those of the people I typically consult as I try to anticipate what’s coming.  And then, I can give God my undivided attention:  “What do you have to say to me, Lord?  What do you want me to hear?  You’re the only One who knows what’s coming… and I’m listening.”

With those words, I fling open the door, welcoming Him into my story and the future that only He knows.

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The Battle for Peace

“Praise and thanksgiving in all things is a powerful spiritual weapon.”  Those words leaped off my calendar yesterday.  As always, God’s timing was perfect.

Let me explain…

I am currently making my way through the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face.  Like many of the challenges that have come before it, this journey involves living into what I’ve written – both in this blog, and in my book:  trusting God, letting go, patiently enduring suffering, nurturing hope despite discouraging statistics, and more.

It has been a joy to discover that I have grown spiritually since I last covered this ground.  Don’t get me wrong.  Fear and doubt have their moments.  They rush at me like tidal waves and threaten to drag me under a turbulent sea of uncertainty.  But then, I remember what I’ve learned – and what I’ve tried to teach you:  give up the illusion of control, take fearful thoughts captive, claim God’s promises, and speak words of confident hope over your circumstances.

When I do these things, I find myself strengthened and encouraged.  I discover that I’m able to swim to the surface of the anxiety and gain a new perspective – one that sees things very differently and recognizes there is more to reality than what I feel.

Those feelings are deceptive.  I know.  I remember.  They mislead me into sensing God’s absence, or worse, a lack of concern for my struggles.  Of course, that is a lie whispered to me by the one who hopes to deceive me into despair – and ultimately, into a sense of separation from the God who loves me.

That’s why words of praise and thanksgiving are a powerful spiritual weapon.

Jesus’  last words before leaving this earth were, “I am with you always.”  Always.  In fear.  In darkness.  In uncertainty.  In despair.  In confusion.  In grief.  In a sense of separation from the love of the Father that is only an illusion, an attempt by God’s enemy to trick me into grieving something that can NEVER be lost.

God has not abandoned me!  Christ has not forgotten me.  The Holy Spirit has not left me.  “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”  That is the Truth.  That is the life raft I cling to whenever waves of fear wash over me.

Last week, I made my own journey to the cross.  I brought my hope for the outcome I want and laid it at the feet of the God I trust.  I poured my heart out, along with my tears, and confessed my deep desire to control things I cannot control and force an outcome I cannot force.  And then, I let go.

I acknowledged the very real possibility that this will end differently than I would have scripted.  I grieved that possibility – and then I opened my hands and said, “Your will, not mine.”  My whole heart has chosen trust and obedience.  I accept whatever is coming with praise and thanksgiving.

I genuinely believe that, even if I can’t see it, God’s will will be His best for me.  And I choose to claim that now.  Confident that He will not fail me.  He will not leave me or forsake me.  He will not forget me or neglect to bless me.  Despite the fear that uncertainty evokes, I believe.  And therein lies peace.  The ultimate spiritual weapon.

Whatever the outcome of this particular medical battle, I have won in the way that matters most.  Thanks be to God.

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Struggling with, ‘Is Infertility My Fault?’

Six months ago, the LORD laid on my heart the need to write this.  You’ll know when you read it if God nudged me to re-run it for you….

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In the midst of infertility, uncertainty frequently begs the question, ”Why is this happening?  Why to us?  Why now?”  There is a deeper, much more painful question that many people struggle to avoid:  “Is this my fault?  Is this happening because of what I did?”  It is a worry laced with fear – and often, long-buried guilt.  It is virtually never voiced because the one who is desperate to know the answer is also desperately afraid to hear it.

When Angela and Sean tried to start a family, they encountered a series of unexpected hurdles.  “We thought — like everyone else — you get off birth control, wait six months and ‘boom’ you get pregnant,” remembers Angela.  “But I wound up in the ER with an ectopic pregnancy, then a cyst, then surgery for a closed tube, and then a miscarriage….”

Frustrated and worried about their lack of success, they tried to make sense of things.  Sean admits, “My first thought was, ‘Crap, we were on birth control for ten years.”

Angela’s fears went deeper:  “Maybe we weren’t letting God work in His way and that was why we had infertility.”  They tried IVF and failed.  “Maybe we didn’t let it happen naturally and so this was my punishment,” she reasoned.  She began seeking answers in terms of deserved consequences.  “I was asking myself, ‘What did I do wrong before marriage, or during marriage…?  Why is this happening?’”

She didn’t know it, but Sean was also finding fault in his past.  “I grew up Catholic, but when I was 16, I stopped going to church.  Now, I wasn’t praying.  I wasn’t reading the Bible.  We were going to church, but just going through the motions.”  Was God angry at Sean and Angela?  Was this His punishment?  Does He withhold children from those whose crimes are unforgiveable?  They wanted to know, but they couldn’t bring themselves to ask – even each other.

So, where can the answers be found?  And can they provide any peace?  Any reassurance that there is hope for those who’ve made choices or done things that might have angered God?

I have good news, and it starts with Rahab’s story….

When the Israelites headed toward the Promised Land, it was already inhabited by the Canaanites.  Scripture and archaeology reveal their culture was steeped in some of the most shocking, abominable practices imaginable – including incest, bestiality, institutionalized sexual abuse of women and child sacrifice [Leviticus 18:24-28].  In the midst of this depraved society lived a prostitute named Rahab.

Long story short, she knew the Israelites planned to invade Canaan, destroying everyone and everything, under strict instructions from God.  She agreed to help them take the city – in exchange for her life, and the lives of her parents and siblings.

Timeout. Look at Rahab.  She existed on the lowest rung of a sick society.  She had a family that could have provided for her; but apparently, she chose to pursue her profession with all its inherent risks.  Did her constant sexual activity produce children?  She never mentioned any when she negotiated for her life and that of her family.  So, either she disposed of whatever she conceived (abandonment? abortion? child sacrifice?), or she didn’t care enough to protect the lives she’d brought into the world; the invaders could slaughter them.

Does anything in that profile strike you as potentially offensive to God?  Inexcusable?  Unforgiveable?  Then you might want to hear the rest of her story….

She lied to protect the spies sent by the approaching invaders.  It was a traitorous act, committed to help people whose law called for a prostitute to be stoned.  But she chose to entrust herself to the God who had given that law, and to His people.  What became of her?

The whole city was invaded and burned, but she and her family were saved.  She accepted God’s offer of forgiveness for everything in her past.  Then, she married an Israelite who saw beyond that past – and together, they had a son.  Many years later, their great-great grandson, King David, was born.  And many generations after that, her descendant Jesus came into the world.

Does that sound like the story of a woman who got what she deserved?  Who suffered mightily because God was angry at the choices she’d made?  Not to me.  I see Rahab’s story as evidence of God’s incredible mercy.  He knows what’s in all hearts, He understands all motivations, and He stands ready to forgive all pasts – if we are willing to trust Him, act out of that trust, and receive the future He longs to give us.

Does that sound too good to be true?  Not to Sean and Angela, the proud parents of a boy and a girl.  It’s not too good for you, either. Receive God’s grace, and may the blessings begin to flow. 

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The Power of Letting Go

Kristi and Carlos met in graduate school and married soon afterward.  When they began actively trying to have a family, they had no success.  “I had a gut feeling something was wrong,” Kristi remembers.

She went to her Ob/Gyn and shared her concerns.  The doctor waved them off.  “She didn’t want to be aggressive about it.  We were young.”  So, Kristi saw another Ob who referred her to a nationally-renowned RE.  “She ran millions of tests, which she requires before she’ll do any treatment, and she discovered Carlos had a god-awful sperm count.”

They decided to try a round of Clomid with IUI.  Meanwhile, Kristi began researching male factor infertility.  “I read all these sobering statistics and thought, ‘It’ll never happen for us.’  I was convinced  ‘It only takes one sperm’ was a crock.  We wanted 30 million!”

So, anticipating failure and constrained by a very limited budget, they began researching affordable next steps.  They found CREA, an infertility clinic in Carlos’ hometown of Valencia, Spain.  They talked with CREA’s International Coordinator and discovered IVF there would cost 4,000 Euros, about 20% of the cost in the U.S.

They could combine their trip to the clinic with a visit to Carlos’ family, keeping costs at a minimum. Excited about the possibility, Carlos felt optimistic.  But Kristi hit a wall.

“I was so tired of the constant tug-of-war with God.  I was thinking about infertility all day long, feeling immense stress because I couldn’t see how this was going to work. That’s when a good friend gave me her copy of Pregnant With Hope,  The stories about people letting go and trusting God really hit home for me.  Especially the story about Michelle.”

A few days after finishing the book, Kristi went for a drive.  “I remember this moment so well.  All of a sudden, I realized how incredibly tired I was.  I wanted to give up the fight.  I said, ‘God, I’m finally giving you all the control.  If it’s in your will, I want to be a mom.  But I’m not gonna fight you any more.  I get it.  I’ve been so stubborn.  I’m sorry.  I’m done.’”

The next day, she and Carlos met with their RE and shared what they’d learned about CREA.  To their surprise, the doctor recommended it as one of the few international IVF clinics with state-of-the-art procedures and success rates comparable to her own.  Then, she mentioned her plan to travel there  for joint research into a new procedure.

“I started feeling better,” Kristi said.

A few days later, as they were heading out to celebrate Carlos’ birthday, Kristi decided to take a pregnancy test.  “I almost dropped to the floor.  I know what negative looks like, and this was not negative. Carlos  kept asking me, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’  I kept saying, ‘I know negative.  This is not negative.  This is not negative!’”

Baby Isabella arrived safely — but only after a nerve-wracking pregnancy, a very eventful delivery (Kristi had a negative reaction to the epidural that caused uncontrollable seizures), and an extended stay at the hospital.

So, what did Kristi learn from this journey — which turned out to be briefer than what she’d braced for?  “I realized infertility makes you so grateful — and overprotective!” she said, laughing.  “I didn’t want to leave her at the hospital when they sent me home.  All I could think was that I needed to be with her.  I said, ‘God, I’m more nervous than ever!  How will I make it through a lifetime of worrying about her?  Please, let me bring her home soon!’”

Anything else?

“Have faith even when the odds are totally against you.  And don’t think you can control this.  I thought I knew IUI wouldn’t work; I was wrong.  I thought we’d have to go CREA for IVF; I was wrong.  I was sure I was going to have a boy; I was wrong.  I thought I could control how it all unfolded; I was wrong.

“I was wrong about everything.  God has the ultimate say on all of it.  And part of what He said to me was, ‘This is not about you.  You’re not in control.  Let go, and let me do it.  I’m glad I listened.”

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This Will Actually Help…

How hard is it for you to listen to gratuitous, unsolicited advice? Or to offhand comments like, “Don’t be in such a hurry to get pregnant. Enjoy your freedom!” or “Why don’t you take our kids for a weekend. That’ll change your mind about wanting some of your own!”

Some people make remarks like that out of sheer cluelessness. They have no idea what you’re going through, and since you don’t tell them all of the agonizing details, their lack of insight leads to inane advice.

Other people mean well, but they’re extraordinarily uncomfortable with your ongoing suffering. They want to “fix” this for you, but they know they can’t – so they do the next best thing; they make themselves feel better by saying what they wish would help. Very often, it doesn’t.

Is there anything anyone can offer that will reassure you? Comfort and encourage you? Give you a reason to keep hoping, despite all the forms of failure you’ve experienced so far?

Yes. It’s a promise found in the story of Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth.

According to Luke, they were both quite old – well past the age when they could reasonably hope God would answer years’ worth of prayers for a child. Still, despite God’s persistent silence in response to their repeated requests, the Bible says they continued to live “upright” and “blameless” lives.

Do you know the story? An angel appeared to Zechariah, the priest, as he burned incense in the temple. The angel told him Elizabeth would conceive “at the proper time.” Some translations read, “at the appointed time.” The angel went on to describe the life and purpose of Zechariah’s future son.  Not only would he delight his parents, he would “make ready a people for the Lord.”

So, what did Zechariah focus on? “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” In other words, “No offense, but you gotta be kidding. Now?!” As a footnote in my Bible comments wryly, “His age spoke more loudly than God’s promise.”

Does that sound familiar at all? Are you wrestling with doubts about a promise God has made to you because it seems increasingly impossible?  Does it seem unlikely that He will bless the seed of hope He’s planted in your heart, given all that’s happened? The time that’s passed? The money that’s disappeared? The hope that’s faded with every additional miscarriage?

Then reread the story in Luke 1:5-25 (Spoiler alert: everything the angel foretold comes to pass).

Ask yourself: What about Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story should matter to infertile couples? That God can make old folks pregnant? That people who live upright and blameless lives have a chance of an 11th hour miracle? If that’s all you take from the story, I think you’ve missed the deeper, more powerful promise.

“At the appointed time.”

God has known from the beginning of your infertility journey… from the beginning of your life… from generations and generations before your life even began…. He has always known the appointed time for fulfilling His plan for your family.

The moment when you will first glimpse the child He intends for you to steward is no surprise to Him. It’s already scheduled. If you could see His calendar for your life, it would be there. Circled in red. Waiting for “the proper time.”

Why can’t NOW be that proper time? Because it’s not just about you and your sense of urgency. Your child has a place in history. God has a purpose for bringing that particular person into the world at a particular moment. He has a plan for that person’s life — and it goes way beyond making you happy.

Can you wait? Can you trust God’s purposefulness enough to push aside thoughts of “Now!  Now!  Now!” and instead, pray for patience  and peace until  “the appointed time?” If so, you will delight the God who loves you and who eagerly anticipates that appointed time.

 

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