Monday, June 04, 2007

Because He Loved Her

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here's the 4th in this series.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Because He Loved Her," chapter four of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.

But to Hannah [her husband] gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.
- 1 Samuel 1:5 (NIV)

I once heard that infertility is like a roller coaster where the wife is struggling to hold on during the wild ride while her husband is frantically trying to find the brake. In this month of June, where fatherhood is widely celebrated, let's remember that infertility is not just a "woman's issue". Little frustrates a man more than feeling inadequate to prevent his wife's pain.

Remember Leah, who felt she needed to earn her husband's love (Gen. 29-30)? With each pregnancy she announced sentiments like "Surely my husband will love me now... At last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons... This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."

While I am repulsed at the very thought of polygamy, this was the reality for many Biblical women, including our beloved Hannah. You see, some early religious leaders had twisted God's command to Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" to the point of actually advising that a man should divorce a wife after 10 years of barrenness. [For more about Jewish traditions surrounding infertility, see "And Hannah Wept" (Philadelphia, New York, Jerusalem: The Jewish Publication Society, 1988), pp. 47-48.] So, when Elkanah took Peninnah as an additional wife, not as a replacement, this was an act of great mercy. He was affirming his love for Hannah, with or without children. What a contrast between Jacob's attitude toward Leah and the loving grace Elkanah showered on Hannah!

For the first few years of our infertility journey, I struggled greatly with the idea that if only Rick would have married the "right" woman, he could have been a father already. One of the most loving gifts Rick ever gave me was his ongoing assurance that infertility was our battle, not my humiliation to bear alone. God knew from the start that it would take ten years and giving our hearts to a dozen children before we would bring two safely home. While it was my body that complicated our efforts, Rick frequently reminded me that as one flesh before God, there was non his or hers. God's plan for us as a couple included wrestling to build our family.

Point of Action:
- Make a list of some specific ways your husband has treated you with grace in the midst of grief and use this list as a guide to help you pray for him with thanksgiving.

My Loving Heavenly Father,
Thank you that I can always run to you when I myself am in need of a Daddy's strong arms. Thank you that nothing in our lives catches you by surprise. There is no path that you allow my husband and I to walk through where you have not already prepared the way.

For the loving husband you have blessed me with, thank you for his faithfulness and grace toward me, even in the seasons where my grief makes me rather unlovable. Let me never take him for grated and help me to be the life-partner he deserves, that you have called me to be. Help me to see our shared journey a bit more through his eyes so that I can support and encourage and pray for him in meaningful ways.
And for my friends who are struggling alone, having lost their husbands in the midst of this painful journey, please give them your special grace and protection in this double grief.

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