I didn’t want to write this blog yet. My plan has always been to wait until God brings us to the other side of this season to write about it. I wanted to be able to share the journey, and the amazing outcome. I didn’t want to write while still in the season…while still in the trial.
But this past Sunday, following Pastor Jeff’s sermon on Philippians 1:12-18, the Lord spoke softly to my heart that it’s time to share. We are living in the now, and it’s important to choose joy, regardless of our circumstances.
This fall marks five years of my husband, Brian, and I praying for the Lord to grow our family. Five years filled with hope and disappointment. Five years of hearing the Lord answer, “not yet” to our prayers for a child.
While these years have had their fair share of pain, confusion, and discouragement, we have had an opportunity to see the truth behind Paul’s words in James 1:2-4,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I’ve heard multiple pastors share that no one is spared from trials. We are either going into one, in the middle of one, or one is around the corner. While at first that may sound daunting, and our initial response might be to go hide in our bed under the covers; the more that we have mediated on God’s word in James, the more we see the joy within the trial. God has a purpose behind it, and He will be glorified through it.
Throughout these past five years, the Lord has impressed on our hearts three attributes of His character, which have helped us keep our eyes lifted up throughout this trial:
God is Faithful
Psalm 119:90 says, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”
God is faithful. That does’t mean He will answer all of our prayers the way we want Him to, but He is faithful to keep His promises laid out in Scripture. As we have walked this hard road, He has been faithful to lift us up when we couldn’t stand, to remind us of our worth in Him, and to keep our eyes focused on His face.
In a recent discussion I had with my Mom, she shared the importance of lamenting, and how it’s become a lost response to trials in our culture. We try to stand strong, and put on masks to hide what’s really going on. Throughout scripture, we see example after example of Bible characters lamenting…pouring their hearts out and not holding back.
A few months ago, we were absolutely shocked to find out we were expecting. It didn’t seem real, and only when we saw the slight flicker of the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound, did this answer to our prayers really sink in. For seven days we felt like we were walking on air, until a follow-up ultrasound revealed that the heartbeat had stopped.
The weeks and months that followed were full of lamenting. Sometimes it was together as a couple, sometimes while sharing with friends or family, and sometimes when we were all alone. We approached the Lord with honest questions, feelings, and confused hearts. We struggled to find peace and joy amidst the trial.
But one thing that remained steady throughout that time was the knowledge that God understands. He has walked this earth, being fully human and fully God. He understands the incredible pain that comes from losing a loved one. He can handle our questions, our grief, and our frustration. We have learned the importance of lamenting, and can say with full confidence that we serve a God who understands.
God is Good
“I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness.” -Psalm 145:5-7
Verses like these have been vital to keep our hearts and minds steadfast and focused on the truth that through it all, God is good. We are called to mediate on God’s Word, and share His awesome acts, greatness, and goodness with others.
Throughout this trial, the Lord has shown us His goodness through community. Brian and I had felt the Lord tug on our hearts to open up more about our struggle with infertility. About a year and a half ago, I was approached by a sweet friend from church who shared that she was aware of our struggle, and that she and her husband were going through infertility as well. She wondered if there were other women at Grace who were experiencing difficulty trying to grow their families. There were.
This November marks one year since the first meeting of “Hopeful Family.” This open group exists to come alongside and encourage other women who are struggling to grow their family (for more information on the group, and to learn when their next meeting is, email Erica De Vogel here). God is good. He is using these trials to build community and point us towards Himself, and towards His perfect story for each of our lives.
In addition, Brian and I have been so humbled by the prayers and support our church family has covered us with during this season. Once we started opening up and sharing this trial, the bonds we had with this community just seemed to strengthen. It has been such a blessing to see the church body come along side of us in this way.
I don’t know if you are coming out of a trial, in the midst of one, or one is around the corner, but I want join with Paul and encourage you to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” We weren’t promised that this life would be easy, but we do know that true joy is experienced in Christ alone, regardless of our circumstances. And we do know that we weren’t created to live in isolation.
So if we feel the Lord tugging on our hearts, let’s share our stories. It’s ok to be messy, that’s the beauty of community. Let’s bear each other’s burdens, and fight to find joy amidst the trials.