Throwback Thursday: What I Have is Enough

I live in an area with a largely non-Christian population. When I was first coming to accept that we are on a road of infertility, I began asking myself a question I think most Christian woman in similar circumstances are drawn to ask: How can this be used for God’s glory among others? At first glance, anyone would think that it brings God the most glory to bless His followers with children. Especially in the non-Western culture where I live, children are seen as a sign of God’s blessing on your life. I struggled at first with God denying us this fruitfulness, because I felt like it make Him “look bad” in front of these non-believers. Now they’ll mock us because they can say You don’t bless us, I would pray, Please, Lord, this isn’t helping our case very much! 

I’ve only more recently come to consider the great, and perhaps even greater, statement it could be to radiate peace, contentment, and joy in the midst of trial and waiting, or even the total denial of children. Imagine the message it sends, in a culture where children are so highly valued and longed for, to confidently proclaim, “I would love to have children, but God has denied me. Fortunately, my hope in this life is not in children. I already have my hope. My joy in this world is not in a baby. I already have my joy.”

I know there are many women all over the world who, when faced with infertility, would say that they will stop at nothing to have a child. No expense can be spared, no price is too great, to finally hold that baby. But what if, in the midst of this, you stood in stark contrast, saying, “What I have is enough. Christ is enough“? How would those around you respond? And what would be their impression of Christ then?

I don’t want this to be interpreted that there is a line of “too far” that you can go or “too much” you can pay to conceive, but I do challenge you, if you haven’t already, to ask the Lord to grow your heart to honestly say: In Christ, I have enough. 

psalm 73

Reposted from August 27, 2013.

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Decision making in God’s will – Part 1

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time, but I always hesitate because I’m not sure how it’ll come across. I don’t want it to sound like we have it all figured out, because we definitely don’t. However, I recall feeling like the “trying to conceive” game was a lot of one decision after another. (I guess life is, really.) Actually, it seems in our first several years of marriage and adult life, my husband and I have already had a lot of major (and minor) decisions to overcome. That being said, with a lot of prayer and discernment, we’ve sort of arrived at a system for making decisions.

I think this is important because there are a lot of considerations the Christian faces when making decisions, particularly in this arena. For one, I have to say it would be a dire error for a Christian couple to tackle infertility merely by following the medical protocol point-blank. If all of your decisions so far and to come are made solely based on the fact that your doctor says that’s what’s next, you may want to reconsider how open you’re being to the will of God. That sounds judgey, I know… but let’s just agree for the rest of this post that I’m not trying to be judgey, because there’s basically no way to write it without sounding that way.

ancientpathLikewise, the longer we’ve walked this journey the more convinced I am that there is not one set best route for everyone — except for the route that continually and sincerely seeks the Lord’s will and chooses against sin. A major part of God’s leading in our life involved foregoing or delaying medical intervention and waiting on Him. This was a big deal for us and a big work He did in our hearts. However, I wouldn’t say this is the ultimate right path for all Christians facing infertility. And I wouldn’t say following the set medical protocol is the definite wrong path for everyone. I would say you need to be sincerely seeking the Lord’s will for you — being willing to stop or go as you feel He is leading, even if it differs from what you want.

How do you do this? How do you make a decision you feel confident is God’s will when, say, you have a few days in between a failed IUI and the next cycle, and need to decide if you’re going to do another one or not? Or when you reach the one-year point of trying to conceive and are totally distressed but don’t want to (and shouldn’t!) make a decision based solely on that? I don’t have all the answers to this, but I can tell you what we do (and you call tell me what you think!).

First, we always pray. We pray sincerely, constantly, and openly. We talk to the Lord about our situation, feelings, hopes, and our options. We confess our unconfessed sins in order to have hearts ready to be spoken to by the Spirit.

Second, we talk to wise people. The Bible speaks so highly of consulting with others and seeking wisdom. We would be fools to think we can face a new situation and succeed without any help from people God has given as resources. Depending on the situation, this could include church leaders, parents, trusted Christian friends, and/or people who have been in a similar situation. This doesn’t mean we do whatever they say. We simply allow the Lord to speak to us through their experience and advice, and factor it into our decision.

Additionally, we ask others to pray for and with us. We would ask many of the people listed above to be praying with us for wisdom in making a decision. Trusting them to be wise and godly, we’d be open to any leading they may feel from God as well.

We give it time. Obviously, every situation allows for its own amount of time. When deciding whether to move overseas, you may have months or years. When deciding whether to implant an extra embryo, you have a day or two, tops. I must add, we would never make a decision based solely on short time — we did delay our first fertility treatment, for example, because we didn’t feel sure by the time we had to decide. Being rushed doesn’t seem like it should be considered direction from God; it falls more into the category of emotions and fears. That being said, we’ll agree on what feels like a reasonable amount of time to keep praying and thinking about it. During this time we keep open hearts and minds, being sensitive to how God may be leading us.

We choose a time to decide. So this is the “step” that is most specific to our little “system.” We think it’s wise, and it’s best for indecisive people like us who struggle to be confident with our decisions. But it’s not exactly taken from any Bible passage or command. It’s just a way we feel comfortable seeking guidance from the Lord. After, for instance, a few days of initial prayer and thought, we will agree together on a time that seems right to make a decision. Oftentimes, we have also agreed on the decision we will make by that time, unless the Lord leads otherwise. Then during the period in between, we will be praying and seeking any direction God is giving — we will be sensitive to the Spirit and honest with what we think He’s telling us.

What this sounds like is: we may approach the Lord and say something like, Lord, unless you lead us otherwise, we will be signing the lease for this house on the first of next month. In between now and then, we ask that you will be giving us confidence in this decision or closing the door. For us, this is the best way not to be frozen in decision making (which is often a decision in itself), while sincerely staying open to God’s will and leading. And can I tell you something? The reason I’m writing about this is that God has always been faithful to answer this prayer. I could write for you story after story of times in our life — and even just in our infertility — when we approached God in this way, and He closed or opened doors to give us confidence in our decision.

…To be continued! In Part 2 of this post, I’ll attempt to answer the question of how God opens and closes doors. I’ll also share one of the most significant things we pray for, and the most important step in decision making. 

Throwback Thursday: Getting Our Hopes Up

Last week Luke 18 came up in my daily Bible reading, and my heart leapt as gem after gem came up in stories throughout the chapter. […] One short story is as follows…

As [Jesus] drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he came near, He asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.faith

You may be familiar with the many times in scripture when Jesus says someone is healed because of his or her faith, and this story is just another example of that [see links to more examples at the end of this post]. It caused me to immediately consider my own faith. Later, I asked my husband his thoughts on what it really means to have faith, especially in this time of waiting for a child. If you asked me, I would have said something like, “Believing God can do this.” My husband considered it, and, being the Bible scholar that he is, pointed me first to Hebrews 11:1, which, thankfully, defines faith for us: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen.”

We discussed this verse a little more, but it wasn’t until later that day that I really grasped the concept. We were talking about something that may happen next month, and my husband said something about “if we are pregnant…” Now, I don’t know about you, but several months into this trial, I started to refrain myself from speaking or thinking in expectation like this. I slowly stopped pinning things to my secret “Baby” board on Pinterest, and tried to stop factoring this “maybe baby” into our future plans. So, as I had been doing for sometime, I corrected him and said something like, “if we do, but we probably won’t.” He immediately pointed out how that way of speaking shows a lack of faith, which we had discussed earlier. “But I just get scared… I don’t want to get our hopes up,” I replied. To which he said, “Well, Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for… faith is getting your hopes up.”

This really impacted me. As a result, I have been intentionally trying to think and act in a way that better reflects the faith I have and want to have. […] I don’t believe special actions like posting nurseries on Pinterest or starting to say “If we’re pregnant next month…” again will in any way earn God’s “yes.” However, I encourage you to consider how you, like the blind man, can better think, speak, and act in faith. Please share your thoughts in the comments, as well as the little ways you have kept yourself from “getting your hopes up.”

Some others who were healed because of faith:

The Centurion’s Servant

The Paralytic

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Another Blind Man

Reposted from August 29, 2013.

No Fight Left

Here is a perfectly poignant song for those of you who may be feeling like you’re in your worst days right now.

A Great, Big, Giant YES

He Remembers the Barren

We become so used to hearing noes from God when it comes to our request for children.

We even become conditioned to hearing noes when it comes to our request for relief from the physical pain and expensive medical procedures that often accompany our chronic diseases. We grow up in our suffering and recognize the Refiner’s fire for what it is, and we cling all the more to God’s promise to work the burning for our good and for the good of our neighbors.

We expect the fire, and, in good faith, we accept it.

I guess that’s why it’s always such a sweet, pleasant surprise when God gives a yes.

Oh, now, I’m not talking about a yes to the gift of children nor to the gift of physical relief. No, I’m talking about a yes to the gift of vocation.

You see, it seems the more I pray for children, the more God gives me…

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