Friday, January 18, 2008

Harvesting Hope from Heartache

On the Proverbs 31 Ministires blog (heads-up, the author is a mother of 5, 2 through adoption, so there will be occasional references to motherhood but not the theme of this post) there is a writing challenge this week. God pulled me from bed 2 hours early this morning, prompting me to write my article for this contest. But when I took a quick visit to the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums (message boards) before coming here, He quickly made it clear that what I had planned to write was not what He wanted me to say this morning. She I'm tossing my notes aside and giving a heart answer to a grieving friend instead.

After sharing of the deaths of two grandmothers and her unborn (six-years-awaited) child all within a two month time span, she writes:
"How do I trust Him and what am I trusting? I want to trust that this will never happen again and I know that isn't possible. I have been such a faithful Christian, I go to church every week, I [serve om multiple] ministries, what else do I need to do to be blessed with biologically carrying a child?
"I just don't understand and I am so confused right now. I am scared of how mad at God I am!"

Precious Friend, my heart hurts for all the trials you have endured. I'm sure you have heard that grief has stages. You are facing two very distinct kinds of grief right now - the profound and specific losses of three precious to you (all in a very compact timeframe), and the ongoing, less definable but every bit as real, ongoing grief of loss upon loss, month upon month, hope upon hope, dream upon dream. Anger is one very valid stage of grief, as is "bargaining" (as reflected by your questions above).

I struggled with these same questions. Not just struggled, but wrestled and fought under their weight as you do! In the end God reminded me that just as I cannot earn His grace, a child is also a gift, not a right, and that He alone is the giver of good gifts. He gives them to whom He chooses, in the timing that He deems most perfect. He does not give according to "merit" for all my works are still broken offerings and worthless rags. He gives according to His goodness and best plan.

As much as I long to give you a "formula" I can only speak from having survived those depths where you now find yourself and encourage you to remember that you cannot earn a baby. The Psalm "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." had me convinced otherwise for a time, that if I could just show God how much I was doing for His service, that surly He would honor that. And then one day, in as close to any "audible voice from God" experience I've ever know, He impressed so clearly on my heart that I had the totally wrong idea of what it meant to "delight" in Him with, "My child, you cannot treat me according to the gifts I choose to give or to withhold. I am Worthy of your praise, with or without a baby!" It was then that I realized that a baby had become an idol to me, taking my focus and God's rightful place of longing in my heart.

This realization wasn't an immediate fix, didn't make me "all better" over night, and certainly didn't instantly cause my womb to become fertile. But it was a significant turning point in my heart, the start on a pathway toward healing and freedom from anger's bitter grasp, the first glimmer of hope that there truly was light on the other side of that deep, dark, senseless valley of grief.

As for anger, I know that the anger itself can be a fearful thing. May I encourage you that your anger does not take God by surprise and that He is big enough to handle it? Death makes Him angry too. This fallen world is not as He designed it and death is an evil, vile thief. If we believe that God has the power to prevent such evil and yet chooses not to take action, why wouldn't we be angry with him? What God wants from you the most right now is your honesty, with yourself and with Him. Let Him know exactly how angry you are, why you are angry, how you feel betrayed... Hold nothing back. Yell it out to Him if you need to. Start a journal and get it all out there in black and white.

And then, once you have laid yourself bare before Him, ask Him to take all that brokenness, bitterness, disappointment, grief, and more, and replace it with heart healing and peace. He is the author of hope and we are promised that when our hope is in Him (not elsewhere, like in a baby) that He does not disappoint. I am not saying this to crush your dreams that God may yet have motherhood in His plans for you. In fact, it is my earnest prayer that He does, and from a human standpoint I pray that this answer to prayer comes much sooner than later. I am simply saying that when we get to this stage of grief, our needs are far bigger than simply that of conception. While there is nothing you can do to "earn" a baby (and you will only make yourself more miserable in the attempt), please allow God to start bringing Life in a new way as He is the only one who can meet this terrible heartache.


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