I can remember my husband asking me if I wanted to tell God, “No, I don’t want to go through this.” I knew it was His will for us to go through this for some reason, but it was a long and difficult journey. In a way, I was saying I wanted a different cross to bear – or perhaps no cross at all.
In the August 29th entry of Streams in the Desert, a poem called “The Changed Cross” is referenced, representing a weary woman who thought that her cross was surely heavier than those of others whom she saw about her, and she wished that she might choose another instead of her own. She tried on other crosses but found them to be too heavy or too piercing, until she came to a final one that she took up and proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. Bathed in the radiance that fell from heaven, she recognized it as her own old cross.
At the time I read this devotion in Streams, we had been on our infertility journey five years and had been teaching an adult Bible class for newly married couples the previous two years. Although it was difficult at times, this devotion helped me realize that my cross had been easier to bear than others. Just eight months before, one couple in our class, who already had a healthy baby girl, was expecting another baby. The pregnancy was seemingly uneventful, only to find out the day their baby boy was born that he had heart complications that could not have been corrected. He lived just a few short hours. The next month, another woman in our class had her firstborn baby a couple of months premature. The doctors were 90% sure this couple’s baby girl had Down Syndrome. She lived only four weeks and they never got to bring her home from the hospital. Still other couples that we taught experienced miscarriages and other difficult pregnancies or deliveries.
I don’t think I could bear being pregnant for nine months and watching my baby die the day he was born. I don’t think I could bear not getting to bring my baby home from the hospital. What really brought this illustration full circle, however, was when one of these women came to visit me and told me she couldn’t have handled what I had been going through. For her it was easier to be pregnant nine months and hold her baby a few hours before he went to heaven than to experience what I had gone through with infertility. That was incomprehensible to me. Another woman I talked to who had experienced three miscarriages before giving birth to her first child told me the same – she couldn’t handle the nine years of infertility we went through, where even one, let alone three miscarriages would have seemed too difficult for me to endure.
“God knows best what cross we need to bear. We do not know how heavy other people’s crosses are. If we could try all the other crosses that we think lighter than our own, we would at last find that not one of them suited us so well as our own.” From Glimpses through Life’s Windows