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“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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Sharing Stories

When couples confront infertility in secret, with little or no support, aided by an expert they hope will work miracles and a faith that feels increasingly feeble, their fear is often palpable.  Isolated, anxious, afraid to contemplate “what if we fail?” – they are grateful for the smallest encouragement.

That’s why I write this blog.  That’s also why I encourage couples to share their stories with one another – and then, to seek spiritual sustenance that points them toward true hope.

If you are in the midst of a journey that seems hopeless, if you’re longing to hear that there’s still reason to believe that God is working in and through your circumstances, listen to the voices of some other aspiring parents who’ve written to me….

“Susan – I have so appreciated reading your blog over the last 6 months — often your message is just exactly what I need to hear that day and so insightful into this journey.  Thank you for taking the time to write.”  – Lisa

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“Susan – I found your site in April when I was at rock bottom with infertility.  At that point, all I needed was some hope, and your site brought that.  Going through infertility has made me grow in ways I have never thought possible.  I have truly felt God working in my life and helping me with my pain.  I found that I run to Him so much more now!  Anyway, after hitting bottom, we are expecting twins.  Thank you for your help, your resources, and your guidance.  God bless you as you continue on in this ministry.”  – Kelli

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“Hi Susan  – We are a Christian couple from Romania and we try to have children. We realized something is wrong and we consult a doctor.  He told us we are less than 15 percent to have a child. My husband was so disappointed he refused to preach anymore and turned angry to God.  Today I was wondering if I can find some encouragement and looking on Youtube I found you. I needed to know somebody understands.  Thank you for hope.”  – Elena

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“Hi Susan – Your blog is a blessing and I have recommended it to several friends in the midst of infertility struggles.  God used the words from your blog to give me perspective and to help sustain me during this journey.  I wanted you to know we are due this week with our miracle IVF daughter and are beyond thrilled. THANK YOU!!”  – Melissa

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“Dear Susan – THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BLOG.  I don’t think I ever let God help me out cause I was too stubborn to let God take the lead. But now he’s my only hope!  Thanks for the encouraging words and please don’t stop writing. Your words have given a whole new meaning to this journey.  My life is in the hands of the almighty. There is nothing impossible for him!”  – Pushpa

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“Susan – Just to let you know that God has used your book to minister to me and I am very grateful. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the one writing.  Your book has made me realize that God did not pull away from me, but I pulled away from him.  Thank you.  Remain blessed.”  – Javita

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“Susan – I want to thank you –you have helped me have hope and faith and the desire to be more open to things and look at them differently and I thank you deeply for that.  We are perfect strangers but you put out your hand for me and I was smart enough to take it.  Thank you for the huge source of support you’ve been to me.  I wanted to let you know that our miracle has arrived!  God Bless you and all you do.”   – Andrea

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“Hi Susan – I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your blog.  I haven’t spent much time on most other infertility sites because they tended to make me feel more depressed or desperate.  But now I turn to your blog multiple times a week for a reminder of God’s love and an extra dose of hope through the struggle.

Your words hit right at the heart of the matter so many times and always provide much needed encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to allow God to speak through you to provide hope to so many who are struggling with infertility.” –  Cindy

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“Dear Susan – Thank you for your inspirational messages. I must give God all the glory and honor for leading me to find your blog – it impacts lives! I can’t say which of your stories, of many, impacted my life the most.  May God always bless you for being a blessing to so many.  Our little girl that we will welcome into our world in April is a miracle!”  – Darlene

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“Dear Susan –  It has been a dream for the past 9 years… and now, I’ve received word that I’m pregnant!  I’m amazed.  The night before I got the news, I read Psalm 139 and every word spoke to me.  As soon as I got the news, I got on my knees and thanked God about 50-75 times.”  – Melissa

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“Dear Susan – After a 10-year battle with infertility, my husband and I finally conceived and now have twin girls.  I truly believe God set us on this path to help others.  Through lots of prayer and searching for His purpose we believe we are to offer hope and support to others enduring infertility, so we are starting a support group.  Your book will be the resource we use.  Thanks so much!”  – Alesha

Wish one of these good news emails was from you?  Don’t give up hope.  Cling to the One with the power to make all things possible.  Trust that the hope He gives is always fulfilled — according to His purposes, in His perfect timing.  Let go of fear, set aside doubt, and let Him take control.  He will respond to your trust with blessings “beyond what you can ask or imagine.”

To Him be the glory.

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When the Longed-for Blessing Brings Bad News

Many of this blog’s posts have focused on the longing for a pregnancy that brings a baby safely into the world.  But what happens when that longed-for blessing no longer feels like one?

I got an incredibly honest, heartrending request for prayer today.  It came in an email forwarded by a woman whose friend conceived on her 6th IUI (hurray!), and just discovered the baby has Down’s Syndrome.  You might be tempted to stop reading, since the thought of such a possibility threatens to  undermine your shaky confidence in a joyful future.  I hope you won’t, because the note I wrote in response to that prayer request made me realize the importance of affirming God’s faithfulness in all circumstances

That’s easy to claim when you’ve experienced effortless conception, an uneventful pregnancy, a straightforwarded delivery, and what looks to the world like happily-ever-after.  But what about when it isn’t so easy, and — by the world’s standards — it doesn’t go well?  Where is God in that?  Where is hope?  What good is faith if it suddenly seems flimsy and feeble?  And where can you go for strength?

My husband and I had to face these questions.  And at the time, there was no one to help us find answers.

We’d scheduled a vacation before our baby was conceived.  As it turned out, it was the week we needed to do an amnio if we wanted to be sure the baby was healthy.  We scheduled an appointment with a high-risk pregnancy specialist found through a friend of a friend.  The doctor started the appointment with an ultrasound.  We’d had several already, and we happily anticipated the chance to see our baby again.

But the doctor took an unusually long time with the ultrasound.  I lay on the table watching lines appear in his forehead as he scanned one area over and over and over.  My husband and I sent each other increasingly anxious looks, but no one spoke.  Then, the doctor said, “Your baby has a large hole in her heart.”  The jolt of adrenaline made me nauseous.  “Usually, that means the baby has Down’s Syndrome.  Has anyone talked to you about this before?”

I wanted to scream, and my mind was racing.  Who is this man?  What does he know?  Why wouldn’t anyone have told us?  It can’t be true….  We’d already lost several pregnancies to miscarriage, but this baby was thriving.  She was meant to come into the world!  Why would God say “yes” to a baby, but “no” to all we wanted that baby to be?

When I received Elizabeth’s prayer request today, the memories of that day flooded my mind.  And I knew God had given me an opportunity to speak the truth of His faithfulness out of my own experience.  I wrote to her:

When I was pregnant with my daughter, they found a HUGE hole in her heart during the amniocentesis.  They told us that, if she survived the pregnancy, she would almost surely have Down’s Syndrome.  We waited several agonizing days for results of the amnio.  In the interim, a couple we knew delivered a baby with unexpected Down’s Sydrome.  It was an extraordinarily stressful time.

Ultimately, our daughter’s test results indicated she did not have Down’s, but she did have the largest hole they’d ever seen in a baby’s heart at this stage of development.  It was hard to know how to pray about this.  Still, God was — and is — faithful.  Our daughter underwent open heart surgery when she was only four weeks old, and despite the odds they gave us as they took her into the OR, she survived and she’s thriving.

I realize the details of this story are different from yours.  At the same time, I feel as if I have some understanding of what you’re facing, based on our experience and the experience of our friends whose son has Down’s.  Neither we nor they would trade the children we have for any other.  We consider all that we’ve struggled through with and for them to be a small price to pay for the extraordinary blessing they have been in our lives.  The challenges we’ve faced as their parents have made us that much more passionate about being the best possible stewards of their incredible souls.  And I believe that was part of God’s purpose.

I don’t in any way mean to minimize what you’re going through.  But I can say with tremendous confidence, God is good and He blesses us in all sorts of unexpected ways.  I truly believe this is one of those well-disguised blessings — and some day, you will say so yourself with complete conviction and JOY.”

If “God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special” [1 Thes 1:4], take heart in the knowledge that He will not abandon you to make your journey alone.  He has already begun equipping you.  That was part of the purpose of the infertility journey.  And He will not fail to comfort, strengthen or guide you.  Ever.

He never fails.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, click this link to order your copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Filed under Battles, Control, Loss, Perspective, Trust