Photo Credit: Kim Clayton Lance
After Job’s ordeal (Job 42:2-3), he says, “I know that You (God) can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. [God] You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My counsel without knowledge?’ [Job says] Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
I have felt a burden in recent years for women suffering infertility. Recently, I’m asking God what He wants me to do, if anything to provide support to some of these women nearby. I agree with author/ministry leader Susan Radulovacki that “they are trapped in a story they cannot escape, separated by silence, vulnerable to any suggestion that sounds promising, and often believe they are cursed.”
Susan has written an amazing book entitled Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. I was deeply drawn into this book, not because of any fertility issues that I’ve faced, but because I was so convicted by the spiritual truths that laced every page regarding desperate and painful journeys of life. Every journey contains sustained intensity, but the infertility journey is probably a 10 on the rating scale.
What grabbed my heart was the idea of infertility being like “fallow ground,” defined as “cultivated land allowed to lie idle during the growing season.” I realize that God is the Allower of “fallow ground” in life’s journey. But, I sure don’t like idling. Like Job’s heart- wrenching journey, intense journeys are sometimes required for us to learn that God can be trusted and that His plans are perfect. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” This is one of my favorite scriptures. But in the matter of infertility, it poses a big problem. Yes, God knows the plans; but I don’t. “Fallow ground” isn’t for sissies against the backdrop of biological clocks. Remember Sarah’s and Abraham’s journey.
With a slightly different twist, Radulovacki goes on to compare infertility to “tilling” of land, she defines this as “preparation with the intent to wait for the ideal time.” Can God be trusted this much? For the ideal time? This reminds me of God’s perfect timing and provision in my life, that I can only see in hindsight, although I see that it was always there. All the things that might have gone devastatingly south if God had fit His plans to my own. His rescues have been endless in my life. When He has pulled back the veil to remind me of these provisions, I can always see the timely preparation that was necessarily going on. God was at work all along.
The end game really is God’s perfect plan, because we will find in the intensity that He can be trusted. Although infertility is an experience of multiplied losses, intense grief, a sense of helplessness, thoughtless questions and advice from friends, and possibly emotional separation from a spouse, we all will eventually answer the very same questions as the infertile couple seeking God in the intensity. Is God really faithful? Should I have faith or hold onto my illusion of control? Should I admit personal weakness or lean on the power of God? Will I choose peace over fear?
Granted, it’s an excruciating leap to trust God as He is writing a much different story for us than we would ever imagine and that His story is far better than ours. In our desperation, we can see God often invites us to active waiting, actively pursuing the seeing of things the way Jesus sees, actively pursuing the choosing of things as Jesus would choose.
Thankfully we have God’s Word, His love letter to us. In it He says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). We are not consumed. A promise.
What an encouragement to know that, in God’s Word, infertility is continually shown to be a precursor to astonishing miracles. Sarah, Hannah, and the list goes on. The unthinkable death of Jesus Christ on the cross was likewise the precursor to His resurrection and our eternal salvation and deliverance from the power of sin. The unthinkable was necessary. The unthinkable was fore-ordained. The plan was the perfect plan of our trustworthy God. And, the astonishing occurred.
At the end of Susan’s book, without fail, all the couples who had authentically shared their infertility stories, chased after God to know Him better and search for answers. Like Job, they had to arrive at the realization that, no matter what the outcome, God is still the Almighty God. He promises to move toward us when we move toward Him (James 4:8). God will use our circumstances, no matter how dire, to prepare us for the gift He is planning to give us. Maybe it doesn’t end with a biological child. But, it is the plan that glorifies Him most when we draw near to Him in the intensity of despair.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Again and again, I have had to remind myself that all things includes very good things and very bad things. The good God works is my eternal good. If I believe that, then the journey of fallow ground or tilling, though possibly turbulent and not dream-come-true, ends with God’s perfect plan, and not mine. Then God Himself becomes the center of my story, where He truly belongs, and He becomes my actual dream-come-true.