The sanctifying joy of infertility
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Throughout my journey of following Christ, one of the concepts I’ve always struggled to fully understand, has been how a Christian can experience the joy that all of holy scripture echoes, even in the midst of pain, intense disappointment, grief and suffering.
In theory I got it.
It was easy for me to rattle off to others about how nothing else in this life could give true, lasting, satisfactory joy like Jesus could. I knew John 14:27 very well where Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Yet deep inside of my heart I had this gnawing fear.
In the dark, when I laid in my bed at night, pondering what it meant for God to be both fully sovereign and completely good, I would ask myself; what if God gave me everything my heart ever desired and then took it away? If I got the perfect little family that I had always dreamed of, what if, in a blink of an eye, He took away my children, my husband, and like Job, allowed sickness to eat away at my body? Or, what if, he simply never gave me the things I had always dreamt of getting? How in the world would I be able to continue on? How would I be able to grieve the pain of my circumstances and yet still, in the midst of it all, call God good…?
Well, unfortunately, the hypothetical question of if I would ever get the “perfect” family I always dreamed of, was a question that haunted me for years, lurking quietly in the back of my mind ever since my period skipped for the first time as a young teen for 3 months, and I suspected that something was off. The diagnosis was made official during my first year of university after multiple blood tests and ultrasounds all showed that I had PCOS, the most common cause of female infertility worldwide.
The diagnosis felt like a punch to my stomach. The one thing I always knew for sure without a shadow of a doubt, was that one day, I wanted to be a mom. Even while I went through my hyperfocused career mindset, I still knew that one day, I wanted to have a baby. Maybe more than one, but for sure, at least one. But when the doctor told me in the little white room of the university campus' walk-in clinic, that me getting pregnant in the future would be incredibly difficult, it felt like my worst fear left the shadows of my mind and became a visible force beside me.
Fear became audible and asked me, “what if you’re not able to have children?”
After that diagnosis, a few years passed, life got busy and before I knew it, in my last year of university, I was engaged! All I could think about was planning a wedding during a pandemic, graduating, starting my career as a full-time writer, and finding a place that would be Joel and I’s very first home together as a married couple! It was truly such a joyous and blissful season. Life was good and babies were the last thing on my mind.
Then finally, we got married and a few months into our marriage God blessed us and we were both making more money than we ever imagined ourselves making in such a short period of time. We were debt-free with some savings in the bank, and after thinking and praying through it, thought, “What are we waiting for? Why don’t we try and have a baby!”
Soon, three months of trying turned into seven months. Seven months turned into one year. And now 15 months, and 2 cycles of fertility treatments later, I’ve still never seen the two lines I’ve prayed, hoped and cried for each month.
The voice of fear that grew louder during the appointment when I got my official diagnosis, morphed into an accusatory voice.
“You’re such a failure.”
“Your body is clearly broken and unfixable since it can’t do the one thing it was designed to do.”
“You’re clearly less of a woman. Just avoid even looking at yourself in the mirror. You should be so ashamed of yourself.”
Then before I knew it, jealousy started to take root in my heart.
“Look at how fast she got pregnant! If only my body looked and worked like her's did, I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“Wow, their family looks so perfect. God, why did you bless them and not me? What have they done to deserve a child that I haven’t?”
I soon realized that in all my efforts to have a baby, this season of waiting revealed some very ugly deep-rooted sins in my heart that God had to confront.
James 1:13-15 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
As anxiety, control, anger, lack of self-compassion and intense jealousy rose to the surface of my heart and slowly attacked my mind and body each time I would stare and cry at yet another negative pregnancy test, I came face to face with the question I asked myself years ago.
If my greatest fear one day stares me in the face, in the midst of my grief and despair, will I still be able to look back at God and call Him good? Would I still be able to experience this mysterious joy that he promises those who love and follow Him?
And for the very first time in my life, after I had officially passed the one-year mark of trying to conceive and holding another negative pregnancy test in my hand, something strange happened.
I was driving home after my weekly women’s bible study, listening to praise and worship music, and in the middle of me singing my heart out to God, I started crying.
As I was worshipping God in my Mazda hatchback, I still was very much aware of the deep pain I felt from another month of disappointment. But somewhere deep in my spirit, I felt this overwhelming joy and peace rise up from a well inside of me that I didn’t know existed. I was crying, but it wasn’t tears of despair. I was weeping at the overwhelming, all-consuming knowledge of the goodness of God that I now not only knew intellectually but that I literally felt physically in that moment.
In the darkness of the night that surrounded me in my little car, I felt Jesus’ presence wrap around me and all I could do was cry and sing because for the first time my soul had truly tasted and seen how astonishingly GOOD God truly was. At that moment I deeply knew what a friend I had in Jesus as I walked through the trial set before me. What a good, good friend.
So, dear brother and sister in Christ, I share this personal story of my journey of waiting for a child not because I like to share intimate details of my life online. I share this story because it’s not about ME. My story is ultimately a story about a good God working through my brokenness for His ultimate glory! And how dare I hold back from sharing that?
I’m not sure what you’re walking through right now, and maybe your trial isn’t infertility. Maybe it’s mental illness, chronic sickness, the death of a loved one, or a broken marriage, and you don’t know where to turn for hope. While I don’t know the exact outcome of what your situation will be, what I DO know without a shadow of a doubt is that the God we serve is faithful.
You don't have to question God's character or thoughts towards you while going through dark valleys, because God's nature even down to his very core, is goodness. He's incapable of being anything else but good. While this doesn’t mean you won’t experience hardship in life, since we live in a sinful broken world, what it does mean though, is that Jesus is walking right beside you and will never forsake you while you go through deep sorrow. He is interceding on your behalf and because you are in His presence you can experience fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Be encouraged with these scriptures:
Psalm 136:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 107:8-9 “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 103:8-13 "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him."
Matthew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
Psalm 33:5 "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."
James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”
If you are a woman walking through the journey of infertility, especially if you have been on this road for much longer than just 15 months, my heart hurts with you. But take joy and remember that infertility is NOT our identity and not the focus of our life’s story. Our identity and story is one that is shaped and found only in Christ Jesus. And if you feel God is still calling you to believe in Him for a biological child, then don’t give up hope! Our God is still in the miracle-working business and absolutely nothing is impossible for Him!
Remember that if you are in Christ Jesus, the ending of your story will always be glorious because Christ has overcome the world! (John 16:33)
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