Throwback Thursday: What if God never says “Yes”?

As days turn into months and then years, it’s the question that starts lurking in the back of your mind but you’re afraid to really ask out loud. What if God never says “yes”? The Psalmist asked it, in Psalm 77: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again?” It’s a fair question, but one with tough answers. On the one hand, you hear people say statistics about how high of a percentage (67?) of people who get help for infertility eventually get a baby. And a friend read in a book that a man who has worked in the adoption field for decades said he has never seen a couple who is praying for a child eventually not somehow get a child. Even Psalm 77 answers its own question by citing all the miraculous and faithful things God has done in the past, presumably awarding trust that God will surely do them again.

And these things may be true. But I’m a realist, and do you know what else is true? There are surely people in the world and in all of history that have waited and tried everything and waited more, and they never became parents. And I could be one of them. If we’re honest, deep down every fertility-challenged woman is, somewhere inside, freaking out at least a little that she could be one of those women. And then what?

Then this is what: God is still good and faithful and trustworthy. He does not disappoint. He is still loving and almighty and worthy of all praise. We have still been blessed from the first day to the last. His grace upon grace is overwhelming and sufficient, and He has never failed. We will still serve and worship Him until our dying day and forevermore. As we’ve said in the valley and will say on the mountain, God’s goodness is not dependent on the things we get; moreover, our hope for joy in life and our greatest treasure is not found in children, or money, or things, or safety, or whatever else we are seeking. Our hope is in Christ, and when we have Him, all other things are but a dim shadow compared to knowing and serving and loving Him. So praise be to God, even if He never says “yes” to this one thing. And praise be to God that we knew this truth in the valley, so we did not waste our lives working and waiting and putting everything into this one thing that never came to be. Instead we put our everything into eternal things that will never be destroyed. If God says “no” forever — and He might — praise be to God, forever and ever.

I would like to invite you to read one of my all-time favorite Bible stories, in Daniel 3. This is a true story of three noble servants of God who were going to be thrown into an oven for refusing to worship other gods. When given a chance to change their minds, they proudly proclaimed that they know God can save them and believe He will, “but even if He does not, we still won’t worship your gods” — and the BUT IF NOT is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, in your faith. May God daily give you and me a heart like those men.

daniel 3

Reposted from September 13, 2013

Decision making – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series on Decision Making in God’s Will. I invite you to visit Part 1 first! 

We left off on praying for God to open and close doors within a certain time. I prefer to use this wording rather than looking for special “signs” from Him… this isn’t a game of chance or a dealing of tarot cards. It’s a walk on path led by the Spirit. A journey.

prv3So, how does God open and close these doors? Sometimes it’s just through our “gut” — which I’d say is really the Holy Spirit. Some great advice I’ve always held on to is when a friend once told me to “just follow the peace” — if you just don’t have peace about a decision, you may want to consider if that is the Spirit holding you back. It likely is. In the months leading up to when we finally got pregnant, we had been praying earnestly in this way — Should we do a different treatment? Should we pursue adoption? More invasive testing? Just keep waiting? While some doors were obviously closed, the biggest factor for both of us was the peace. We both still remember fondly just a week before that BFP, sitting in our living room one night at the end of our period of prayer, and sharing that neither of us felt peace with anything but continuing to wait on the Lord. Closed doors for other options, scripture given in that time, and just leading of the Spirit had led us to that painful but peaceful point.

You can also expect Him to lead you through actual events — when we started seriously praying about adoption, agency after agency turned down our initial inquiries because we live overseas. It was clear to us at that time that God was closing the doors and leading another way. On the other hand, when we first went for infertility treatments and were feeling unsure of the decision, a dozen “random” things happened that we saw as God’s confirmation that we were making the right choice — the nurse giving us all of our meds for free, the clinic offering us a huge discount because of our financial situation, and a friend handing us an envelope with a huge chunk of cash to use in any way we needed (these are all financial, but that’s not always the case). Even after the treatment failed, we had confidence and not regret, because we had sought the Lord and He had guided.

We also always pray to be united in our leading. The Lord has always been faithful to answer this request as well — even if we started off being staunchly opposed to each other’s leaning. And if it comes time to make a decision and we still aren’t in agreement, we will either decide to keep waiting (if time allows), or I will defer to my husband’s leadership as the head of our home. So yes, I always have one extra thing to pray about — that when the time comes God will guide my husband well, and I will have a submissive heart if I have to. And my husband always has the burden of the responsibility of the final decision (which honestly sounds harder to me than my burden of just submitting to his decision).

Finally — we make a decision. This sounds like an obvious “step,” but for indecisive people, it can be terrifying. However, if you did what you could to seek the Lord’s leading, have an open heart, and make godly choices (perhaps by following my advice above), you can have the peace to make a decision without worry or regret. We make a decision and move forward confidently, trusting the Lord together and never blaming ourselves or each other if it doesn’t go how we expected. If we made the choice believing it was what God wanted, then we can trust that it is what God wanted when it doesn’t go well by our estimation.

So that’s how we face decisions in our home. I’d love to know if you have anything to add (or subtract!). 

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. 

A prayer for the disappointed

Rachel Wojo posted this prayer recently, and I know disappointment is one of the major emotions that presents itself in infertility. Perhaps today, or in the coming days, you will be able to pray this rich prayer.

wojo

The Ground of my life, the Spring of my hope

I read this truly beautiful masterpiece of a prayer from The Valley of Vision during my devotional time this morning. I just had to share — its many truths really pierced my heart. I bolded some of my favorite lines, but truly I love all of it!

Which lines stand out to you the most?

“Glorious Jehovah, my Covenant God,

All Thy promises in Christ Jesus are yea and amen,
and all shall be fulfilled.
Thou hast spoken them, and they shall be done,
commanded, and they shall come to pass.

Yet I have often doubted Thee,
have lived at times as if there were no God.
Lord, forgive me that death in life,
when I have found something apart from Thee,
when I have been content with ephemeral things.

But through Thy grace I have repented;
Thou hast given me to read my pardon in the wounds of Jesus,
and my soul doth trust in Him, my God incarnate,
the ground of my life,
the spring of my hope.

Teach me to be resigned to Thy will,
to delight in Thy law,
to have no will but Thine,
to believe that everything Thou doest is for my good.

Help me to leave my concerns in Thy hands,
for Thou hast power over evil,
and bringest from it an infinite progression of good,
until Thy purposes are fulfilled.

Bless me with Abraham’s faith
that staggers not at promises through unbelief.
May I not instruct Thee in my troubles,
but glorify Thee in my trials.

Grant me a distinct advance in the divine life;
May I reach a higher platform,
leave the mists of doubt and fear in the valley,
and climb to hill-tops of eternal security in Christ
by simply believing He cannot lie,
or turn from His purpose.

Give me the confidence I ought to have in Him
who is worthy to be praised,
and who is blessed forevermore.”

P.S. If you previously enjoyed this book or have been liking my posts from it, it may be of interest to you that you can buy the audio book on CD! So you can listen and meditate in your car, while working at home, or anywhere you want! 

Resting on God

Another gem from The Vally of Vision, and I happened to find a recording of it on Youtube. Feel free to listen to this deep prayer and let it speak to your soul this morning.

One of my favorite lines…

Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee.

A simple prayer for you…

ps20a

 

 

But a true friend would also pray that, if it’s the best thing for you — if it makes you holier and brings God more glory in your life — may He also grant you waiting, and sorrow, and maybe a little pain, and some heartbreak. May you know mercy and grace to the fullest extent, if He sees fit, and may it bring you closer to Christ and make you more like Him.

 

God is Awake

No ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You

For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him! -Isaiah 64:4 [NLT]

I have been thinking of this verse a lot lately. There is so much depth to it, and so much joy, and so much hope! I can really relate to Isaiah marveling at this… I, too, live among people who worship another god (actually, most of you do, too, but your people don’t admit it). The god they worship is invented, dead, not real. But they still worship it, and it’s painful to watch. I am overwhelmed when I think of our God compared to this — Jehovah, the living, acting, real and true God of the universe. When they pray to their gods, the gods are still and nothing happens. But our God –the one, true God– has always stood in stark contrast to this. When we pray to Him, He acts. He is active. He is faithful when we wait for Him.

May you revel in this truth, and not grow weary in your waiting for Him!

This verse also brought to mind this song, which at first I couldn’t even remember how I knew it. I had to google the verses until it came up. But it’s perfectly taken from this verse and you’ll really appreciate it.