But If Not

With the passing of another Mother’s Day, I was reminded of people for whom this day is difficult – not only women who desperately want to be mothers, but also mothers who have lost babies or older children who were supposed to outlive them, as well as others whose mothers have passed away.  Most of all, I couldn’t stop thinking about a friend who has experienced infertility herself but encouraged me during my trial of infertility.  You see, she never did get pregnant.  I don’t know all of her circumstances and decisions that were made, but for whatever reason, she and her husband either weren’t called to adopt or perhaps those plans fell through also.  I don’t understand why God didn’t open her womb.

I wondered how could my blog help someone like her?  Maybe it’s not supposed to be able to help everyone.  But if you are in her shoes and you have stumbled upon this blog, I hope my words don’t ring hollow because God did open my womb, but He hasn’t done that for you.  You might say I can praise Him because He did give me the desire of my heart – a baby.  I can only say the thoughts I am sharing came before I knew what He would actually do in my own life.  I do praise Him for my outcome.  But if not, I would hope I could still trust Him, praise Him and keep serving Him.

In the Book of Daniel, the Bible teaches the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged they would not serve his gods and worship the golden image he had made.  They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down.  I remember their words of trust and faith in their God (who is my God!).  In Daniel 3:17-18 they said, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up.”

We need to recognize these three men did not look to God for physical deliverance during their moment of trial.  Instead, they placed their faith in the God who is able, not necessarily the God who will, though we might hope for it.  Their public faith didn’t force God’s hand, but instead their faith that God is still God stood strong, whatever the outcome.  I borrowed these words for my own fiery trial and remember praying, “I know you are able to deliver me from my barrenness, oh God, but if not, by God’s grace, I will still trust, serve and praise you.”

Our son was 1 ½ when we decided to attempt IVF again.  We wanted another baby!  Another friend of mine had one miracle son, and since it was taking much longer the second time around, she also went to see a fertility specialist.  My news wasn’t what we had hoped; the doctor actually cancelled my cycle because I didn’t produce enough follicles to proceed, and that was using the protocol with the highest dosage.  I was only 38.  My friend also didn’t have good news – the doctor told her it was a miracle she got pregnant the first time and didn’t even recommend IVF for her.  She was even younger than I.  We both found out about the other’s results the same day at church, and I’ll never forget that day when we hugged and I said, in thankfulness and in tears, “At least God gave us both one son!”  Then she told me to stop before I made her cry.  I remember my nurse saying it wasn’t impossible for either of us to get pregnant, but it wasn’t worth paying that much for IVF for a 2% chance.  A little over a year later, my friend called to tell me she was pregnant – 7 weeks along!  I was thrilled for her, and her news also gave me hope that God could do the same for me.  It just seemed destined to turn out that way.  Her baby is now almost 6 months old, and no, I haven’t gotten pregnant.  Most say I would be hoping against hope.  True.  Against hope, I am still believing in hope.  (Romans 4:18-25)  God is able.  But if not, I will be ok.  By God’s grace, I will still trust, praise, and serve Him.  God is still good.

If you are childless, perhaps not by your choice, then you can even identify with the sufferings of Christ greater than my own experience.  I wonder if there is anyone who would give a word of encouragement by sharing how you have coped with this.  How have you viewed God in the difficult times or when He didn’t deliver what you wanted?  It may never get easy – the barren womb is never satisfied (Proverbs 30:15-16) – but if you can say God is still good, I would love to hear from you.

*Excerpts from AIA Devotional on Daniel 3