Thursday, March 01, 2007
Facing the Giants : Infertility and Fear
If you have been fortunate enough to view the movie, Facing the Giants, you have no doubt reflected on the "giants", the major obstacles, in your own life.
The biggest giant I have ever faced, my "Goliath", was infertility. This is my story.
The first 8 years of my marriage I was engaged in career and church-planting in partnership with my husband. Starting a family was on the back burner.
But somewhere in that 8th year, the longing for children emerged. Why wasn't it happening?
Medical tests revealed no problems. As we consulted with physicians regarding our options, it became apparent that continuing on the path of medical intervention would require us to center our lives totally around the goal of having a baby. It would demand both our money and our time. It didn't feel right. We decided to stop medical procedures and just wait on God.
We prayed. We relinquished our desires to God. We hoped.
I made the personal decision during those years to live a fruitful life regardless of whether or not God chose to grant my request for a child. But emotions sometimes run counter to the decisions of the will. Before coming to a state of peace and restful acceptance, I would struggle through tears and entreaties. Scripture brought great hope, but the hope seemed to be dashed monthly. Then the emotional cycle would start over.
As time passed, my emotions stabilized and then I would think, "I have conquered this thing." But occasionally the wound would be reopened, like when I visited new mothers in the hospital, or when a circular would arrive in the mail advertising maternity clothes. Then the grief was fresh in me again.
This phase of life lasted about 7 years. Toward the end of that time, we decided to attend a seminar for people wishing to adopt children. As the date of the seminar neared, my husband uncharacteristically changed his mind about going. There was a pressing ministry concern that he felt took precedence. I was crushed and very, very angry.
The same week of the seminar, as I was delivering meals-on-wheels to an elderly client, the woman greeted me with excitement. "I had a dream about you last night!" she said eagerly, "I dreamed you were pregnant!" I was a little taken back by this. I barely knew this woman. She was foul-mouthed and had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Not anything like the Gabriel that presented Mary with her good news! But like Mary, I pondered these things in my heart.
Another out-of-the-ordinary event happened a little later. We hosted a small gathering of believers in our home to listen to a missions report from Bulgaria. Pretty routine stuff for a ministry couple. But my heart was pierced. As I viewed the pictures of sweet little Bulgarian children attentively listening to the gospel message, I knew I had to go. If I couldn't have my own children, I would go to these and share my love with them.
My husband was in absolute oneness with me on this.. He had the same strong urging to go. We immediately began preparing for our first mission trip: passports, applications, training, videos, etc.
And then the day came for the required medical exam and immunizations. As I answered the routine questions that were a part of the exam, it became apparent that my cycle was askew. Would it be OK if they did a pregnancy test? I explained that I had been infertile for 15 years, but if they needed to do a test, fine.
The test was positive. At the age of 36, after 15 years of marriage, I was going to have a baby.
I laughed all the way home from the clinic; but the minute I walked through my front door into my husband's arms I dissolved into tears. Could such a gift truly be ours? It seemed surreal.
Our God is a super-abundant God. He blessed us with four children in quick succession between the years of 1993 and 1999 .
"He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord." Psalm 113:9
I am convinced that God ordains that each of His children face a giant at some point in life. When the Israelites spied giants in the land of promise, they shrank back in fear, causing their blessing to be postponed for 40 years. Surely the biggest giant we face is Fear. It was refreshing to see a movie, Facing the Giants, that realistically portrays the believer's battle with fear. One thing that stuck with me was a comment that there are 365 "fear not" verses in scripture. If that be true, then there is a "fear not" for every day of the year. I intend to keep a list of them in the coming year.
Here is my first one:
"Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil for Thou art with me." Psalm 23:4