Infertility: Where Is God When You Can’t Get Pregnant?

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We all know that labor hurts. But what most people don’t know is: infertility hurts too. It’s not the loud, screaming kind of pain. It’s long, and slow, and quiet. It’s a different kind of labor altogether. A labor of the soul.

It happens when you toss another negative pregnancy test in the trash can and sit on your bathroom floor and cry.

It happens when you lay in your bed at night, and your husband holds you as you stare into the darkness, while silent tears fall into your pillow.

It happens when you sit at a baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little, tiny gifts of your own to open?

It happens when you look in the mirror at your flat stomach, and put your hand over it, and pray for life to grow. And try to imagine what it would look like, what it would feel like, if it did?

It happens when you see teenagers pushing strollers past your house. And when the minivan full of children opens it’s doors. And when a friend says they had another “oopsies” pregnancy. And you wonder: Why is this so easy for everyone else? Except us?

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Frozen Pizza and the Crisis in Iraq

“What’s for dinner?” my husband asked. “Just pizza,” I replied, pointing to the box of frozen pizza on the counter. “Just pizza?” he said with a curious smile, implying my obvious ingratitude. “Okay,” I rolled my eyes, “We get to have pizza tonight!” I exclaimed in my most enthusiastic voice. (But not very convincingly.)

As I threw together a quick salad to go with it, my mind stayed glued on my husband’s implication. “Just pizza?”

My mind flashed to the news I heard that morning: Thousands of innocent people stranded on top of a mountain without food or water for seven days, waiting for rescue, or death.

Men, women, children, babies–hungry and thirsty. What they would give for even a morsel of any food. 

Every day I have food and water. I rate things like a frozen pizza ‘a kind of crappy dinner.’ I push my cart through aisles of food. Thousands of choices. Varieties. I can’t even decide there are so many choices. I can eat what I want, whenever I want. Without a thought.

60 children are confirmed dead on top of Mt. Sinjar tonight–from extreme temperatures, hunger, and thirst.

“Just pizza?”

I grieve for these little ones tonight. I have been given so much. Most of the world has so little. And I don’t even know it. They usually seem so far away. Like another world.

But tonight they seem so close.

I lay in my warm bed with my husband. My daughter sleeps across the hall in her crib–safe right now. Another report surfaces in my mind: hundreds of young women have been taken captive by the militants with “vicious” plans for them, and are being held in schools in Mosul, “most likely being abused in demeaning ways by the terrorists,” Amin reported, “to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values.”

Tears roll off my cheeks into my pillow. I lay in my bed wondering, what it would be like, to be one of them? What horrors do they face tonight?

My husband rolls over and tells me, “You’ve just been reading the news the last few days, Bekah. But this kind of stuff is going on all the time, all over the world.”

He is right. I hate that he is right. This is our world. The one Jesus came for. Because it’s broken and hurting and so very sick. Sometimes evil things can masquerade as beautiful ones…but sometimes the whole world turns and sees evil for what it is.

Urgency courses through my blood stream. And yet, I don’t know what to do. I pray desperately for their rescue. I ask God to send angels to war for them. To save them. I can’t stop thinking about them. Babies are dying of starvation and young girls are being raped. Every day. This is reality–even if I can’t see it.

I grow increasingly restless, unsure of what my hands can do, or my voice can speak, or my wallet can spend to help, help this injustice all over the world…to stop. I don’t know what I can do, but once I do, I hope to do it with all my might.

What can I do tonight? Tomorrow?

Stop complaining about things that are only “first world” preferences, and start being relentlessly grateful for what I have. Like food. Water. And that God has sustained me, and my family one more day on this earth.

This means: I need to not be picky about food. Not a little bit. Not ever. I need to never ever say again, “Just pizza.” I need to never apologize to my family or my dinner guests for what I am serving them.

Instead I will serve them whatever food God has supplied, like it’s the best meal on earth.

For, “godliness with contentment is great gain,” and, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6,8

We will hold hands and say “grace.” And mean it. By God’s grace we have been given this food, this water.

This life. For one more day.

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[I know this is a real and serious situation, not just in Iraq, but globally. And learning gratitude is only a small part. If you know of, or participate with any social justice organizations, or, can share any practical involvement or beneficial resources, please share in the comments section.]

Stop Waiting To Be Happy

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When I was barren, I was constantly waiting to be pregnant. But I was also waiting to be happy. I thought that if God would give me what I desired (a baby!), I would be “complete.” And I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, and I was indeed: Happy! I cried and jumped up and down, and blew my nose on my husband’s shoulder. Life was at last good. God was at last good. And I was at last happy. You’d think after that I should have remained the most content person on the planet. But I did not.

I have this problem. It’s a deep problem. Not one that can be solved by a few Pinterest tips, or self-help reads, or swapping my table sugar for organic honey. It’s something dark inside me. Like hunger…but it doesn’t go away with food. Or vanity. Or accomplishment. Or relationships. Or exercise.

I call it want. It’s this thing that lives in me that is always desiring more. That always whispers there is not enough. And this is truly the heart of being barren: emptiness. For so long seeing only the empty in me. Seeing the flaws in others. And seeing God as a withholding God, and not an infinitely giving one. This feeling, this way of seeing your life as “not yet full” is not just for the unable to conceive woman though.

As people, we constantly fantasize about the next “phase” of life–as if it will trump all our prior experiences. I know this because I have done it my whole life so far. Kids can’t wait to be teens. Teens can’t wait till college. College students can’t wait to graduate. Graduates can’t wait to get a job. People with careers can’t wait to retire. (And old people just long to be young again.)  How far does it go? There is something tragic happening here!

No one is enjoying their current phase of life! Everyone wants to be somewhere else, not here. The want is taking over. We are a people who constantly look to the next thing. We want more. Better. Different. Have you ever considered that the phase you are in RIGHT NOW is the best phase simply because it is the phase God has ordained for you right now? If we constantly race ahead to the place we want to be, the goals we want to achieve, we will tragically miss the good going on right now. We will look back on this month, this year, and not remember anything. All we will see is a big blur–jumbled with frantic desires and disappointments.

So just stop. Stop. Right now, and look around you. (Be still, and know that He is God.) What has God already given you? With what responsibilities is He entrusting you right now? Who is in front of you today to love? And then thank Him. Thank Him for every single thing you can about right now. This place. 

I share this only because for way too long I have wanted the next thing. And dear brothers and sisters, I feel it working even now within me. The want. The thing that sucks the joy, and steals it from today.

But when I am thankful–the joy comes rushing back in, like noisy, laughing children stumbling in from outside bringing the smell of summer warmth all around. When I am thankful (even in spite of the mess, and the chaos, and the things I don’t have, or things I haven’t become, or achieved) I am declaring with my heart:

God is Good!

God is Wise!

God is In Control!

God satisfies!

Growing up I always heard church-people saying, “If you are faithful with the small things, God will entrust you with the big things!” So, I always thought this was some kind of transaction, or a stepping stone.”Be a good custodian, and someday you will own the company!” What those people were referring to was to a parable Jesus spoke of in Luke 16:10 and Matthew 25:21, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” While I do believe this passage is about stewardship, I think there is something more going on here than a promotion at work. The very next line is, “Come share in your Master’s happiness!”  I think what He is saying is–whether you thought I entrusted you with a little or a lot, important, or unimportant–you embraced it with both arms. I am pleased with you because by welcoming what I have sovereignly arranged for you, you have declared me wise, and good, and giving! And indeed I AM! So come share in my happiness!

 

Dear Father,

I declare today that You are good. I rejoice in what You have entrusted to me right now (from the biggest to the smallest task). Before I get to the next “phase” of my life..or if I ever “get there,” I want to worship You. I was made for Your glory and to be happy in You. Open my eyes to Your glory all around me. I want to share in Your happiness. Take my heart full of “want”, and replace it with a heart of deep gratitude. You promise to satisfy the hungry with good things. And for that I praise You. Satisfy me now in all that You are, that my joy may be made full. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen