The following is a guest post from Emily, one of my readers, and I pray it touches your heart like it has mine.
When I first began to suspect that we might not be able to conceive, I was heartbroken. As each month passed with no success, I struggled daily to trust God with our situation. I knew in my head that the Lord’s plans are always best, but I didn’t know how to accept the fact that my biggest dream might never come true. Every day, I begged the Lord to allow me to get pregnant, and every month I hoped that this would be the month. And every month when I found out that I wasn’t pregnant – again – I was absolutely devastated.
I watched as so many of my friends started their families. I hurt as people callously asked why I wasn’t pregnant yet, and I worried that others might assume that I was too selfish or preoccupied with other things to care about having children. I couldn’t talk about it without crying, so I didn’t even tell my family about our struggles for almost a year. When I finally did tell them, they were sweet and supportive. They told me that they were sure that I would get pregnant in God’s time. So I kept waiting. And I kept expecting that this month it would finally happen. But it never did. And I kept praying that God would change my heart in some way, to help me somehow be okay with it all. But I still cried, and hurt, and waited only for my circumstances to change.
After a year and a half of trying, our suspicions were confirmed by a doctor. Aside from drastic medical procedures, or a miracle, we will not be able to have biological children. I thought it couldn’t get any harder, but it did.
For about 3 months after that, I waited, and hurt, and struggled on a deeper level than before. And finally, God changed everything for me – not by finally allowing me to get pregnant, but my changing my thinking. It started on Sunday morning while I was sitting in the service, thinking about how I might be pregnant this time, and worrying that I might find out – again – that I wasn’t. My pastor was preaching about contentment. And I was harboring a nasty little attitude – thinking “That doesn’t apply to me because of my circumstances. How could God expect me to be happy and content while he withholds from me the one thing that I want? How am I supposed to just overlook that?” Then my pastor asked us to turn to Galatians, and I happened to look across the page and read the following:
“Rejoice, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into a joyful shout,
you who have never been in labor!”
Wow. What could I say to that? Somehow God did still expect me not only to be content, but also to rejoice! And it wasn’t optional. It was a command. And not just a command in this passage, but all throughout the Bible. God repeatedly commands his people to rejoice: Phil 4:4-8, Ps 97, and Joel 2:21 (just to name a few). So I came away wondering how I could daily obey the command to rejoice. And then that afternoon I found out again that I wasn’t pregnant. And so all the pain and frustration and questioning came back. That night as I lay sobbing in bed beside my husband, he sweetly and sternly told me just what I needed to hear – and the Lord used my husband’s words right then to break through the pain and lies in my head, and to show me the truth and give me the freedom to rejoice.
He told me that he believed the reason that I was struggling so much is that, while I was saying that I wanted God’s will and that God’s will is best, I was secretly refusing to believe that not getting pregnant could possibly be God’s best for me, and make me the happiest. I persisted in assuming that someday God, because he is good, would have to give me a child, instead of trusting Him with the decision about what was the best thing for me. My husband challenged me to stop expecting to get pregnant: to just give it up. To start planning my life around what it would seem (from our current, human perspective) is God’s plan for us: no pregnancy. No biological children.
What then? Maybe something better! Maybe adoption. Maybe a lifetime of ministry to and enjoyment of the family and friends that God has already blessed me with. Maybe something else that I’ve never even imagined. It’s God’s decision, not mine. And could I really decide better than the infinitely wise, loving, and powerful God? Of course not! So that settles it. I will leave the future in God’s hands, and embrace my present role – barren, and rejoicing.
We are currently pursuing natural methods to increase fertility. We are also planning on beginning the adoption process soon. Because of God’s grace at work in me, I am joyfully embracing God’s plan for my life as he unfolds it day by day.
I don’t know if God will give us children, biological or adoptive. He hasn’t promised me that. But look at what he has promised me: a perfect plan for my life. I have a relationship with the Creator and Redeemer of the universe. I have his grace, love, joy, peace, and comfort every day. I can be confident of God’s perfect plan and provision. I have a place of service to him that he created me for, and an eternal home in heaven. And look at what he’s already given me: a loving and godly husband, a place in my church family, parents and siblings that love and support me, a warm home, good food, a couple of fabulous cats, and the joys of working and playing and seeing beauty and hearing truth every day. These outweigh the other things by far. When I compare a childhood dream, false expectation, or a lie, to all of God’s real promises – His truth – I see that perhaps being barren and rejoicing is not really a paradox after all. It’s God’s perfect plan for me.
Thank you Emily for sharing what God placed in your heart.