Infertility is the singular most difficult and lonely things I have yet to walk through. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen to write about it. Because I know there are women (and men) in similar seasons of grief and waiting. And because I hope the Lord somehow uses my words to meet you in this difficult place.
So here is a jumbled assortment of some honest thoughts I’ve had [a stream-of-conscience-type-assortment], as well as some things I have sought to hold onto as I’ve tried to walk through this journey of infertility well. I pray my words would help you to feel known and remind you that even in the midst of your pain, there is hope.
I don’t hold the mindset that God will grant you something once you’re fully content in him (like, if you’re single that God will bring you a man as soon as you’re finally fully satisfied in him). I also don’t hold the mindset that if you pray hard enough, believe strongly enough, or hope fully enough that he will grant you what you ask. Also, while it is a good and sanctifying thing to surrender your desires to the Lord, God is not waiting to grant you your prayer until you’ve finally and fully surrendered your desire to him. I’ve been tempted to believe this often during the last two years of infertility – thinking that maybe I wasn’t praying hard enough or trusting fully enough for God to grant my prayer. But friend, God is not waiting for you to be good enough to bless you. This belief is a type of prosperity gospel that is incredibly damaging to our view of God’s character. God is a good God, and his goodness is not determined by whether or not he grants us what we desire. God is a God of abundant grace, and his grace is the same regardless of the strength of your faith or the diligence of your obedience.
Navigating the grief of infertility is a difficult thing. We’re not grieving a loss of life. There hasn’t been a funeral or a death. We simply grieve a continually unmet hope and expectation. This might make it difficult to grieve alongside friends who are experiencing different, more tangible types of grief. And yet, there is a unity that comes in grief. Because of my experiences, I am able to speak of my sorrow to a sister who is also walking through grief, even of a very different kind. We find that we can be united by a shared language of lament and by a fierce belief that no matter what, in both of our sorrows, God is still good. I’m finding that everyone holds grief of some kind because we live in a desperately broken world, and that it is always worth it to speak words of hope into the darkness.
And still, at the same time, I am learning to lament. To know Jesus even more as he was described in Isaiah as a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). To understand in some small way what Jesus meant when he said blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the desolate, the rejected (Matthew 5:3-10) and experiencing the comfort and hope that is offered to me. I’m realizing what Peter meant when he said “now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). I’m starting to understand the truth that more precious than my answered prayer or my met desire is my refined faith that, by God’s grace and strength, will endure.
In the middle of this juxtaposition between hope and hurt, waiting and lamenting, I find myself comforted by God’s sovereignty – over both the world’s circumstances and my personal circumstances. Sometimes this makes it harder for me to ask for things from God (because I know it is in his power to say either yes or no). But ultimately because I know his character, I can know that no matter the answer, he is always acting in kindness and goodness towards me. I find comfort in the fact that, in him, my eternal state is secure. He will hold me fast.
In all of this, here is some Gospel-hope that I have been encouraged by in the midst of infertility:
In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul writes that our “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
How in the world can our sufferings be described as light? They don’t feel light or momentary, in fact they feel crushing and overwhelming.
But in fact, this IS true, and we can say this confidently alongside Paul because we know that God’s eternal glory and the unseen radiance of heaven will be so much better.
Take a moment to really consider this. No matter what depth of pain you are walking through, in light of the glorious weight and beauty of eternity, that suffering will feel light and momentary. Consider the magnitude of goodness and grace and majesty and joy that you would have to experience for your pain to dim so much in comparison. This, friends, is what is offered to us in the gospel.
This, friends, is the hope that we have in Christ.