It is often said that patience is a virtue. And it certainly is one that God has been engraining into my heart lately. You see, it’s been a while now that I’ve been living with a longing in my heart and my life. Sometimes that longing becomes gut wrenchingly painful. And that pain isn’t something I wish on my greatest enemy. I pray it is something most never have to know. It is also something that women (and even more so men) rarely talk about.
But here’s the reality of that pain…
There are days when I come home sobbing after returning home from playing with my friend’s kids or nieces and nephews because I long for that bond with my own child.
There are days that I break into tears and feel bitterness over another friend’s pregnancy or birth announcement. Then I feel guilty for even thinking that because if anyone knows, I know that each and every child is truly a gift.
There are days where my mind wanders and a knife pierces my heart when I think about how old our baby “could be” as I add up the time we’ve spent trying.
There are days when I don’t have the words to explain these feelings to the one person I love the most in this life, my husband. So I simply say “I just need to be sad for a while”.
There are days when I feel like I’ve talked about it enough to social media, my friends, my family, and others so I just keep it inside.
All of these scenarios are very real to me. And I will be one hundred percent honest with you that sometimes life gets so busy and life continues on without me giving these much thought. And as time has gone on, these instances have been fewer and fewer. But they are still there.
This Pain is a Journey
This path towards us trying to start a family has been a journey. It’s been a journey of not only trying to have a baby, but more than that. It’s been a journey of growth. Growth for me emotionally, in my faith, in my marriage, and even in my relationships with our families. It has allowed me to face and open up the most vulnerable parts of myself.
But more importantly, it has allowed me face God with those vulnerabilities and ask Him to do a lot of things that I didn’t ask Him when we originally started this journey. You see, my nightly prayers have changed a lot during this journey and my outlook has changed a lot during this journey.
It started out with a lot of bitterness and a lot of anger. It started out with a lot of me asking God, “why”. Why me? Why us? Why is this happening? Why isn’t this happening? Why are you putting us through this pain? WHY?
And I eventually got to a point where I could no longer ask why. The reality of the situation we were in wasn’t changing and I could do two things: I could continue to ask why and let those whys consume me OR I could begin to accept that reality and move beyond it.
Part of accepting that reality of the situation we were in and moving past it was me continuing on with normal life and more importantly, me pushing hard into God. Me seeking him and reaching out to Him.
Again and again God continues to place these little crumbs of truth in my life all with overwhelmingly similar themes eerily related to the reality I find myself in right now.
Some of these things have been in the form of friends words spoken to me, some of these things have been in books/devotionals I read, some of these things have been in sermons I listen to, some of these things have been from conferences or testimonies I have heard from others, and some come directly from opening up the Bible and reading. Sometimes they are so simple that if I wasn’t paying attention, I would certainly miss them and sometimes they are so overwhelmingly undeniable that I can’t help but relish in them.
I want to share these with you, in hopes that maybe if you are hurting, or whatever situation you are going through right now, that God can speak comfort, love , and healing into your life. And He can remind you that this process of pain isn’t a destination, it is a journey.
Don’t Forget God’s Promises
The first little crumb of truth God placed in my lap reminded me to seek God’s promises. So I started out with the most basic principle, God is good and God is good to me, even when bad things happen. Lysa Terkeurst in Uninvited says, “Even if something doesn’t feel good, God can still work good from it.” Margaret Feinburg in Fight Back with Joy, explains it like this, “Marinate in the truth of God’s fierce love for you.”
Doing a simple word study of the Bible for the terms God and good, you yield a result of 124 results. Of course not all these verses talk about the goodness of God, but here are a few of my favorites.
In Deuteronomy, Moses told Joshua and all of Israel “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8
David teaches us to pray in 1 Chronicles 16 a beautiful prayer, but in verse 34 he says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Jeremiah 31:3 shares with us this beautiful promise, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
I could go sharing with you the many ways and times God’s goodness and love is described in great detail. Reading through the Old Testament has been amazingly inspirational to see how God uses people’s pain and uses people’s lives for his goodness. Imperfect people, people who were bitter and angry, people who lusted and murdered. When they clung to God’s promises, God showed them that they could do great things.
God Has a Plan and It Is Greater Than I Can Imagine
When I look back on when we first started this journey, I honestly believe God got quite a few laughs out of me as I told him the many plans I had for how this process was going to go.
Boy, did God have other plans for me. Accepting the fact that this is God’s plan hasn’t been an easy thing to do. But I can tell you that each step of this journey has come from a page in His plan. It is happening just the way it is supposed to. The breaks we’ve had in treatments have given me time to marinate on the idea that His plan is greater than I can imagine and is greater than any plan I could ever think up.
Let’s take a look at what God’s word shares with us about His plans.
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Now I don’t know what could be greater than God gifting us with a child, but I know that His plan will be much more beautiful and tailor-made to fit our lives and our purpose. And that it will all happen on his timeline and according to the plan He has already had laid out for me.
My Pain Serves a Purpose
Now this one I’ve found to be the most difficult reality to accept and God has put it in front of me time and time again in hopes that it seeps deep into my soul. So when I am feeling that longing and my emotions want to take control, I can remember this truth: my pain serves a purpose.
Nobody experiences growth on the peak of a trial, you experience growth in the valley. When you are at your darkest hour and your heart feels like it is about to break that is when God is going to work in and through you so you can experience growth.
So even though it has been a journey to fully grasp this, I finally understand what is said in James 1:2-5 about considering it joy when trials come your way so that you can experience growth. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
I now know that when God is testing me and putting me through a trial, I know with exact certainty that God is using that to growth my faith, my strength and that because of that growth 1 Peter tells me there will be wonderful joy ahead.
1 Peter 1:5-9 tells us, “ So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
And if we take it a step further, we can look to the Cross to remind us that through something bad God can create something so good. Something so good and something beyond what we would ever imagine.
I love 1 Peter 4:13 from the Message translation, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”
This pain, this trial, this dark time… It is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. Can I get an AMEN.
Finally, Pain as Your Platform
I was listening to one of my favorite speakers, Pastor Carl Lentz from Hillsong NYC a couple weeks ago. He shared the powerful quote, “Your pain will either be your prison or your platform. It is your choice.”
That simple phrase hit me like a ton of bricks. I can either let this pain consume me, break me, and utterly destroy me. Or I can use this pain as a platform for the One who helps me see it through. I can let this pain be the making of me, not the breaking of me. And I don’t have to have it all together or perfect in order to do God’s work. God will use me right where I am and just the way I am.
So to any of my dear sisters, friends, and maybe even that silent woman who is reading this whose pain is about to consume her… Don’t lose hope. It is my prayer today that you can become good at re-tracing the promises our God makes to those who believe in Him. It is my hope that He will drop those little breadcrumbs into your lap every time you seek Him.
I pray that today you can stand boldly in front of our God who is always good and ask Him to use your pain, your problems, and your hurt for His purpose. Don’t let them be your prison, let them be your platform. And I pray that God will reveal to you all the amazing things He can do through you, no matter where you are right now. Your pain isn’t permanent and although it will be the most difficult part of your process, it will also produce the most power in your life.
If there is one thing I hope you never forget and get good at re-tracing over and over again in times of pain, it is this. God loves you fiercely and His love for you endures forever.