By Amy Seiffert, Crosswalk.com
She met me with a warm hug, but her smile looked like a weak cup of decaf. As we pulled out the coffee shop chairs, we eased into them and started talking through her story with tears.
She was walking through a very painful chapter in her story called Infertility, and the uncertainty and darkness were stealing her joy and faith.
I knew her pain.
In the middle of a full coffee shop, we sat there feeling the weight of emptiness. We made space for her pain and grief, and talked about her desire to do exactly what God says to do: Be fruitful and multiply.
Wasn’t having children what He asked of her? Then why hadn’t He made a way? Why did her body feel so broken?
These are all questions I faced grappling with a few years earlier.
My husband and I rode an emotional rollercoaster to arrive at each baby—sometimes white-knuckling it and screaming, other times with our hands up, full of faith and worship. We struggled through four and a half years of infertility.
Yes, I include the half because each month counts. And then our last baby was conceived on the first try. All of it remains mysterious to me.
Infertility is a desert. And when I was in it, I would read about God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His hearing our prayers. But I saw very little of it.
Every part of my life felt dry. Cracked. Lifeless. Each month when my period came, it felt like a funeral. Life was leaving my body when all I wanted was for it to stay. And grow. And become a soul.
And now, just a few years later, I tuck three children in at night (though one is taller than me now, and tucking him in is more like a sweet and awkward goodnight hug). My life is a full rodeo show of amazing humans.
And all you may see is a girl who got what she wanted. But I want you to also see a girl whose faith was as thin as the pages of her Bible. A girl who wrestled with hopes and dreams. A girl who didn’t know what to do with all the feelings she had each time a friend announced a pregnancy—of joy and jealousy, of pain and pleasure, of love and longing—all wrapped up in one heart.
I’m with you, sister. I have zero promises about how your hopes and dreams will turn out.
What I do have is 5 encouraging reminders that I hope will bring you comfort.
1. God Is with You in the Desert
How often I forget that not only was God with Jesus in the desert, but He actually led him there: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil,” (Matthew 4:1).
God had this part of Jesus’ story written out; He shepherded His Son right into that space.
In fact, many others had gone before Jesus into dark places because God was doing something purposeful through them. But all the while, God never abandoned them.
Think of Moses. When asked to confront Pharaoh, God said to him, I will be with you. Joshua, stood at the edge of an entirely new territory and God said, I am with you.
Remember Joseph? Left for dead by his own brothers. Jailed for two years. Forgotten. But he looked back and saw that God was with him, working out the evil plans set against him for good.
And of course, David. When he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, as Psalm 23 says, David remembered that God was with him.
Let this fact seep into your bones: God is with you, even when you can’t feel Him.
2. Your Lack of Faith Is Not Keeping You Infertile
A few people suggested that it may be due to my lack of faith that I was not conceiving.
Listen, sister, I believed God could do anything, including giving us children.
Some days my belief was the size of a mustard seed, but I believed. Other days I felt like I could move Mount Everest with my faith. And still I held no babies.
Any amount of faith we have is a gift from God anyway. As Paul says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You can certainly ask for an increase of faith, but do not let anyone tell you that your lack of faith has kept you infertile. God’s plan is greater than your understanding, and He sees your mustard-seed faith in the middle of the unknown.
It is not about you and your faith. It is about God and His plan. God loves our faith, and He also has perfect timing.
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3. God Tenderly Collects Our Tears
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book,” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
Something is to be said of a God who notices every single thing about our life. As the psalmist writes, God collects all of our tears, records them, and keeps track of them.
They are precious to Him. He made you. He loves you.
He cares for you and your journey and your heartache and your tears. He is not letting your tears fall to the ground; He is gathering them up and storing them. He sees you, dear one.
You and your precious tears do not go unnoticed.
4. For Now Is Not Forever
A dear friend and counselor recently said to me in her sweet way, “Amy, no feeling or circumstance is permanent.” That is good news, especially for those who are suffering.
This reinforces a thought from my friend Barb, who says, “For now is not forever.” Amen.
Sunrises break through dark nights; blooms come from buried seeds; resurrections come out of graves.
Look back and think about your life. You have walked through some incredibly hard things, but you are not there anymore. You survived them, and you are stronger for it.
You have gone through training and growth and are now standing on the other side. I am willing to bet God did something incredible in you, as He did with His son. I take great comfort that Jesus is not on the cross anymore. He is risen, indeed.
5. Goodness and Mercy Will Come Out of This
Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” (ESV). Could it possibly be that this desert has goodness in it, following you? And mercy trailing behind?
The crazy thing about the goodness of God is that it is often forged through pain and valleys and deserts and dark nights. Darkness was a part of Jesus’ story.
And if we are going to follow Christ and be identified and crucified with Him, then through the desert we go. Jesus went through the ultimate valley of death—and goodness and mercy followed close behind.
The Resurrection came three days later. And He now dwells in the house of the Lord forever.
Dearest sister, may these reminders be exactly what you need today, quenching your thirst in the middle of a dry land.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
Amy Seiffert is an author, writer, and teacher. She currently is on the teaching team at Brookside Church, where she also directs community groups and team cohesion. She has also been an affiliate Cru staff member for more than eighteen years. Weaving biblical wisdom through her presentations, Amy inspires, teaches, and humbly invites any willing spiritual pilgrim to walk alongside her in the pursuit of truth and the knowledge of God. Amy is married to Rob, and they live in Bowling Green, Ohio, with their three kids.