Monday, August 19, 2013

Even Though Now For A Little While

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

I love this passage for several reasons. First, when I accepted Christ, I became a new person once and for all eternity. That means sin is no longer my master. When I mess up, fail, give into temptations…I’m forgiven because Christ stands before me, protecting me from the fate I deserve, and gives me a pass to be with Him for all eternity. Such grace. Such humbling, beautiful grace. Truly an undeserved favor.

Second, Peter says we have a living hope. This comforts me so much when I struggle with anxious thoughts of the unknown future of infertility. My hope is not in vain. It is alive because Christ lives in me. But like a living being, that hope must be nourished and properly cared for, otherwise it might shrink into a state of dis-health. When I allow depression and the enemy to dominate my thought life, my living hope is injured and sickly. I need to nourish it with food and water in the form of choosing hope over hopelessness. By spending time with my Father and His Word instead of dwelling on my own thoughts, fears, and worries.

Third, I’m protected by the power of God. That’s so huge and important to remember! When fears and worries begin to overtake me…when the enemy is whispering lies of shame in my ear, my God is ready and available to protect me. I need to turn to Him in those moments of weakness. He wants me to turn to Him in moments of weakness.

Fourth, Peter says that the various trials the people are being distressed by are for a little while. It is so incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed by infertility and to feel like I’m trapped in this chapter of life. Like it will last forever, I’ll never become a mother, woe to me. But that’s not true. Like any trial, it has been, is, and will always be temporary. A season. A chapter. It must have a beginning (December 2010) and therefore MUST have an END! For a little while. The “little while” may feel like an eternity to my earthly-bound state, but to God, it’s but a blip in the grand timeline He’s orchestrated. I just need to trust Him and do everything I can to be patient for His timing.

Fifth, Peter says that the purpose of our trials is to demonstrate the proof of your faith. He says trials should result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This relates to how I am called to respond in the midst of suffering and trials. The purpose of my suffering is to show the greatness of God, not the vastness of my self-pity. I am called to respond with hope and joy when it’s illogical to other people. When the world says it’s time to give up, there’s no chance, etc…I should remain hopeful and joyful. Even when I’m hurting, God is still worthy of my praise. And I truly do have so much to praise Him for!

I love how verse 9 ends with you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible. Not just a little joy, but inexpressible joy. Greatly rejoice. So much joy you cannot describe with words how much! That’s a lot of joy, and if I truly focus on all that God has blessed me with – even while facing the pain and suffering of a trial – I find it easy to have joy. My eyes see that I am so richly blessed already. Even though now for a little while I am hurting. Be joyful. Inexpressibly joyful.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Three C's

When you face a trial, a natural tendency is to blame yourself or feel guilty for getting yourself into the trial. With infertility, it's common to think thoughts like:

If I hadn't taken birth control pills for all those years, would I still have difficulty conceiving?
What did I do wrong to deserve this pain and suffering?
What more could I have done this past month to better track my cycle or time intercourse?
Why can't I do what so many other women are able to do with seemingly no effort?
What's wrong with me?
Why am I broken?

I could go on listing similar questions, but hopefully you get the idea. It's common to worry and dwell on thoughts like that.

But let's get one thing straight: infertility is NOT your fault.

You must accept the fact that there will always be certain aspects of life that are out of your control. And infertility is simply one of those things you can't control, so don't blame yourself for it.

Life is made up of choices, consequences, and circumstances. The three C's.

You have the freedom to make certain choices in life. With infertility, you can choose how much or how little you want to track your cycles, pursue medical intervention, be available for intercourse (but you only have control over your half of that equation; your husband has control over his half and you have to accept that it takes two to tango). This is the only thing you have control over, so I encourage you to pray for wisdom as you take time to decide on choices in your life.

You have control over the choices you make. You do not have control over some of the consequences of your choices. Your choices will naturally lead to consequences. Tracking your cycles excessively may result in feelings of empowerment, knowing how your body is behaving...but it may also bring added stress because you're focused on your cycle day in and day out. Pursuing medical interventions will certainly have consequences on your body, your health, your future health (increased risk of cancer, for example), your relationships, and schedule. Ask any woman who has been through IVF procedures, and she will tell you how involved and expensive the process is. Likewise, not pursuing medical interventions may lead to feelings of fear, like "What if I'm not doing everything I could be doing to get pregnant?" As I previously mentioned, you have to make certain choices about what you are or are not okay with, and then be okay with the consequences of those choices. All choices have consequences, good or bad. Since consequences are a direct result of your choices, this should motivate you to pursue God before you make a choice, asking Him for wisdom and guidance. Once you've made your choice, you are at the mercy of consequences that are out of your control.

You do not have control over your circumstances, and unlike consequences, circumstances are not a direct result of your choices. Circumstances are independent of your choices. You can choose to save up for a house, mortgage a small portion of it, and purchase home insurance, but you cannot control a tornado destroying your house and having to start over with a few belongings and the insurance money. You can make wise choices that hopefully result in good consequences, but your circumstances may affect your life dramatically without any input from you. The death of a loved one, natural disasters, etc. With infertility, you cannot control your circumstances like a close friend announcing her pregnancy, or you miscarrying your baby. You can choose everything wisely, and you can prepare and hope for good consequences to your choices, but your circumstances are independent and unpredictable.

So once you've accepted how much and how little control you have over aspects of your life, how do you deal with the things you can't control? Allow Paul to share some of his wisdom with you.

Philippians 4:11-12
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

This is the key to maintaining a heart of hope and joy in the midst of trials and suffering. God will grant you wisdom to make wise choices if You ask Him. The consequences to your choices or simply the uncontrollable will lead to your life's circumstances. God asks us all to be content no matter what our circumstances are. Whether your circumstances are good or bad, happy or sad, full or empty, bright or content. There is ALWAYS at least one thing you have to be thankful for. So dwell on that. Praise God for that one thing (and the many things). Be content.

Better still, LEARN to be content. Paul admits that contentment is something to be learned. When you learn something, you usually have to study it, ponder it, repeat it, and practice it. Do the same with contentment. Choose contentment, and your consequences will follow a heart of contentment. Choosing contentment will strengthen your heart for whatever circumstances come your way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

When God Says "No"

I'm copying and pasting today's devotional from Sarah's Laughter because I found it very encouraging and I hope that you do as well. Stay hopeful, my friends!

When God Says "No"

August 1, 2013
When you face a crisis in your life such as infertility, you must come face to face with your true belief about God.  Is He who He says He is?  Can He--will He--do what He says He will do?  In times of crisis, we must grapple with the fact that we are called on to trust the God who sometimes says “No”.
When infertility enters your life, a lot of things can happen.  Some people turn to doctors.  Others decide to trust God to allow conception to happen naturally.  Some people tell everyone they know so they can garner support, and some choose to keep their situation very private.  Emotions go haywire and decisions must be made, but one thing is usually constant when infertility invades the home of a Christian couple: we pray.  
We ask God to reverse the barrenness we carry.  We cry out for healing of endometriosis or polycystic ovaries.  We promise Him that we will be good mothers, that we will not only take these much-desired children to Sunday School, but we’ll teach the class as well.  We beg and plead with Him to end our struggle with infertility and give us the baby that only He can provide. 
But sometimes--at least for a time--God says “No”.
What does it mean when God says “no”?  It feels like He has abandoned us or that He is somehow unaware of how badly we want a baby.  Maybe He thinks I wouldn’t be a good mother, so He withholds from me the blessing of my womb.  It would be so much easier if God was unable to give me a baby!  Then I could imagine Him saying “Oh child!  I wish I could grant this desire.  I want to place life in your womb so badly, but I just can’t.  I would if I could, but I cannot.”  Then it would feel like He was a partner in this struggle with me, rather than a holy being that I must convince of my desire and commitment to being a good mother. How do I serve this God who says “no”?
If your heart is hurting today, and you are struggling with how God must feel toward you and your infertility, let’s turn together to the Word, and examine another who heard God say “no”.  Perhaps you’ll understand a little better how He loves you.  Mark 14:35-36 says this:
And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if possible, the hour might pass Him by.
And He was saying, “Abba!  Father!  Everything is possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.
This emotional passage of Scripture lets us in on the intimate exchange between God the Father and Jesus the Son, in the hours leading up to the excruciating execution of Jesus.  He is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and you can hear His anguish dripping from every word.  He cries out to His “Abba Father”--the literal translation is like us crying to our “Daddy”.  Can’t you hear Him?  
“Daddy, please!  Please, Daddy!  Please let this cup--let Calvary pass from me!  If it’s possible, Daddy, please!  It’s going to hurt!  The weight of sin will be crushing!   Oh Daddy, please, if it’s possible, make another way!”  
Didn’t Jesus know whether or not it was possible, or whether or not God could make another way?  Of course He did.  Read on...
Everything is possible for You;  remove this cup from Me;  yet not what I will but what You will.
God the Father, heard the anguished cries of His only begotten Son, begging Him to let the cup of Calvary pass from Him and God said “no”.
Why did God say “no”?  He had a greater plan.  If He had allowed Jesus to by-pass Calvary, infertility would be the least of your worries.  Your eternity would be a terrifying reality.  God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, told Jesus “no”.
Did God love Jesus that day?  Absolutely.  Did His heart break to tell His hurting Child “no”?  Without a doubt.  He does the same for you.
You’ve begged God to let this be the month you conceive.  God says “no”.  You’ve asked Him to let you avoid medical treatment, but you pick up the phone to make the appointment because God said “no”.  Others have babies so easily, yet your family is formed through tears and years. Hard to understand?  Unquestionable.  But God has a greater plan.  Will He always say “no”?  Of course not.  He has marvelous works in store for you.  He just knows that for a time, He must say “no” to allow the greater plan to unfold, and He weeps with you as your tears fall. 
Trust the God who sometimes says “no”.   His plan for you is unimaginable. His mercy for you is inexhaustible.  And just as He loved His only begotten Son, He loves you enough to sometimes say “no”.