“He gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children.” (Psalm 113:9 The Message)
(This article was co-written with Nicole Starr.)
We have been trying for five years to conceive a child. Doctors have told us that while we each have little issues, for the most part, we are normal people and ought to be able to have children. This has given us much hope and frustration, since month after month, we find ourselves unable to announce that we are finally expecting a child.
Lent is a season where we find ourselves becoming more introspective—whether through making sacrifices, or intentionally setting aside time to be more mindful of the Lord and the world around us. For 40 days, we get a glimpse of what Jesus may have experienced when he fasted in the wilderness. It leads up to Holy Week, when we take on more dramatically the incredible suffering that led to his death on the Cross, realizing he did it for all of us who have ever lived and are not yet born.
Not yet born. We hope. We pray. We ask God to help us experience the original commandment to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28 NIV). However, burned out from our continued efforts coming up empty, we often find it difficult (to put it mildly) to sense God’s love and positive promise for us. “Why us?” is the question that is all too easy for us to ask, without any explanation for our lack of success. We have the label of “unexplained infertility” lurking over us like a shadow.
God has not answered that question, which makes it all the more frustrating. But to follow Russell Wilson’s example of motivation for the Seahawks, we prefer to turn the question around and ask, “Why not us?” God has not answered that question either, and we can draw hope from that.
The true test of faith, which the Lenten season highlights, is seeking God and finding joy and contentment in Him in the midst of difficulty and suffering. He wants us just as we are, so it is perfectly okay to be angry with Him. He wouldn’t want us putting on a false happy face. We must surrender whatever sense of control we have over our lives and willingly give it to Him. This is especially difficult when we do not have answers. We can be reluctant to hold out hope in Him if hope is not producing results, but Paul states that “if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25 NIV).
This test of faith relies on us making the invisible assumption that if certain condition(s) are necessary for our success in the role(s) God has called us to, we must assume those conditions exist and then act accordingly. Here are 3 golden rules that have helped us in our walk:
Don’t assume the worst. Negative what-if’s are very dangerous, and focusing on them can lead down a very dark and self-centered path. Both of us have been there on several occasions, and it has taken heavy tolls, both physical and mental. Focus on the goal, not on what can defeat you.
Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. God has designed each of us with a unique purpose, and He means for that to be carried out. He has equipped each of us with gifts, which are intended to be used, not wasted! Many of our perceived limits are rooted in our imagination, created by what we say to ourselves. Remember our true identity, as we sang in reflection during the last service: I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.
Know God is always there for you. Regardless of your location, state of mind, or surrounding circumstances, He is always watching and listening, and will respond if you reach out to Him. You may often need assurance from Him; if you do, just ask! Many important figures in the Bible did—Abraham (Genesis 17:17-19), Moses (Exodus 4:1-17), and Mary (Luke 1:34-38), to name a few.
We continue to hold onto hope, assuming that one of these days, we will become a family of more than just 2 adults with fur babies. We have found that in our circumstances, we can still honor God and each other in our actions, such as Nicole’s volunteering with the Genesis Project and Daniel’s private writing (which one day might just go public!). We are aware that even when we can’t see or hear Him, the Lord is with us. We do still ask for prayers that one day, we will find fulfillment in God’s promise that we will “find joy as the parents of children.” We also pray for all of you, that in your season in the wilderness, you will find just what you need and know His promises for you.