This article was first published on December 11, 2018 on Premier Christianity's blog here.
Another negative pregnancy test.
After two and a half years of hoping and praying for a precious baby, I have lost count of how many tests I have taken. Sometimes I irrationally wonder to myself if I am taking them wrong.
“Ok, this time make sure and time it for exactly 15 seconds. Maybe that’s the problem.”
Cycle after cycle of hope is followed by disappointment that, after many months, turns into grief. I never thought of myself as a person with control issues until I encountered infertility. There’s almost nothing like it to make a Christian woman realise she is absolutely not in control and she must accept God’s plan for her life!
Rather than accept his plan, however, I wrestled with the Lord for a long time. Recently, he has brought me to a place of incredible peace as I have finally been able to surrender this part of my life to him. I am able to maintain this peace as long as I am vigilant to identify and conquer the lies of the enemy.
You are likely familiar with some of his common lies, which include: “God must not love you” or “God is punishing you” or “God doesn’t answer your prayers.” I didn’t realise I was struggling with these thoughts, but my anxiety over my situation revealed that I was.
I decided to make a list of some of the truths that have brought me to this place of peace I am now abiding in. If you are in a season of waiting, I hope these five truths will encourage you as well.
1. God loves us with an inexplicable love
The scriptures say God’s love surpasses our knowledge and takes strength to comprehend (Ephesians 3:18-19). I wasn’t consciously aware that I was doubting his love for me until one of my best friends was describing her view of God’s love for her. In her mid-30s and single, she really desires to be married someday. Instead of worrying about her future, though, she is peacefully content because she is so confident in the father’s extravagant love for her. I realised that if I was truly confident in his great love for me, I wouldn’t have any worries about my future either.
As I began to arrive at a deeper understanding of his love, my anxiety over my situation started to disappear. During this time the Lord highlighted a verse for me: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1 John 4:18 ESV). I was blown away by a fresh new insight on this passage, accentuated by my circumstances. As God was perfecting an understanding of his great love for me, my fears were being eliminated.
I’ve started to become more consciously aware of the doubts that are at the root of my sad emotions. When I start to feel sad or worried, I stop and ask myself, “Am I doubting that God loves me and has a good plan for my life?” Quick confession and repentance in these moments keeps me anchored securely in his love.
2. God has already given us many good gifts
Sometimes you can get so focused on that one thing you want that you forget to be thankful for all the things God has already provided.
I try to remember and celebrate the good gifts God has given and try not to focus on what I’m hoping for in the future. God promises to give good gifts to his children when they ask (Matthew 7:9-11). However, we need to check our motives in our asking (James 4:3). Has the thing we are desiring become an idol?
3. God’s plan for our lives is according to the purpose of his will, not ours
This truth has taught me to give up my illusion of control, surrender to him, and stop comparing my life with others.
We are each unique and God wants us to trust him to decide what is best for each of us. Because I don’t have any kids yet, I have more time to invest in ministry. God has given me eyes to see how he is using me in this season to give birth to and nurture spiritual babies. He has also shown me that he wants to fulfill not only my desires for a family, but also the desires of children who don’t have a loving mother. His plan might be to pair me up with orphaned or abandoned children who are waiting to be loved.
4. God’s will is for our life to glorify him
Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christians are peddling the false teaching of the health and wealth prosperity gospel. This teaching seems to assert that God’s will is for us to receive everything we want. When I encounter friends with this theology, their encouragement usually amounts to this concept: "If you were really being blessed by God you wouldn’t be having this struggle." But waiting on God is a normal part of the Christian life! And scripture is full of teaching on how to endure and persevere amid our less-than-perfect circumstances!
We should remember the example of the prophets and Job who endured great suffering for the Lord (James 5:10-11). In the case of infertility specifically, there are numerous examples in scripture (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and others). Many of these women eventually conceived spiritual leaders who greatly glorified God, including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel and John the Baptist.
5. God will use our pain as part of our ministry
The purpose of our afflictions is so that we will experience God’s comfort and then we will be able to comfort others with the comfort we have received directly from God (2 Corinthians 1:4). God has given me many scriptures that have comforted me very specifically. I have been able to comfort others who are struggling with various trials by simply sharing my story of how God has been comforting me. I’ve been amazed at the ministry opportunities my infertility has provided! Though I don’t yet know how God is going to respond to my current wait, I am now confident that he is writing a good story and there will be a satisfying conclusion someday.