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The first few steps on this painful path were so... unexpected.
I didn't deal with it well.
I was angry and confused, but most of all, I felt so isolated. Infertility, like many other hurts in life, can do that.
Everyone in my life has kids. Many of my friends are on kid number two or three. Some have even completed their families.
Add to it the fact that I work at a Bible Camp- kids everywhere all the time, even babies and toddlers during the family camp weeks, and I’m surrounded.
I’m surrounded by the stuff of family life. The playpens and high chairs and strollers. The school trips and loose teeth.
My home is different than the houses of our friends, different than the activity at work. It’s quiet without the shrieks, chatter, and laughter of children.
In those early days, I really felt like the one still frame in a scene of activity. All around me there’s this flurry, fast-paced and noisy, but I’m standing motionless.
Frozen. Conspicuous because of what’s missing.
I stick out in the middle of all the life.
The thing about infertility is that you can feel so alone in the struggle, but it’s really not all that uncommon.
Infertility is still such a personal, close-to-the-heart issue that we often don’t hear about it. That’s changing, of course, but even so, when you’re diagnosed with infertility, it can feel like you’re the only one dealing with it.
In truth, though, one in eight women experience infertility in some form. I’m not at all unique in this particular struggle.
Even in biblical terms, my issue isn’t uncommon.
In Genesis, we meet lots of women… and many of them have some kind of infertility issues. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel. The matriarchs of the faith- all of them heart-breakingly unable to have children--- until miraculously, they were.
An acquaintance of mine, after she found out about our difficulty to conceive, assured me that God had brought babies to “barren” women before- surely He would do the same for us.
It got me thinking.
You know, God made lots of promises in the Bible.
Quite a few of them are baby-related- like the promises He made to Abraham to give him a son and to make his descendants as numerous as the stars. God promised Sarah a child, even even though she was ninety.
But God didn’t make that promise to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people in the same situation, in this day and age, have received signs from God that He plans to give them a baby. (Like Caroline—read about her blue sock moments. Gives me chills).
I haven’t had that. That’s not my story. And that’s not a promise for me.
When we’re reading the Bible, we have to be careful to remember that the Bible isn’t about us.
It’s about our big and glorious God.
Not every promise in the Bible is a promise for our lives.
There’s a difference between universal promises in the Bible and specific promises.
Universal promises are the ones that God has given to all of mankind (like the fact that He’ll never destroy the earth by a flood again).
But then we also have promises that are very specific.
We so often hear Jeremiah quoted—“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.”
It’s a beautiful verse, but that’s not a promise for us. That was a promise for the nation of Israel.
Or how about in Exodus: "The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still."
Again, beautiful verse. But only a few chapters earlier, God had commanded the Israelites to fight for themselves. So which one is it?
Well, again, that's not a promise for us. That is a promise for the people of Israel, at that specific moment in time.
What do we do with the specific promises in the Bible, then?
Instead of reading promises and always applying them to ourselves, we need to be careful to ask, (as Cryss told us last week), “What does this tell me about God?”
Jeremiah tells us that God plans the future — and in this case, His plans that included return from exile for the nation of Israel, and ultimately, a great Savior for the world.
The verse in Exodus shows us that God is in control- and that we can (and should) trust Him always.
Abraham’s story tells us that God can do the impossible, and that only He knows the future that He has in store for us.
I can definitely learn from the decisions made by the women and men in the Bible. I can learn from the way God worked in their lives, and from the consequences that resulted when they didn’t obey or didn’t trust.
But one thing I can’t do is claim their promises as my own.
So no, I don’t believe that God has promised me a child.
Not yet, anyway. God could reveal that promise to me and my little family tomorrow, but He hasn’t, yet.
I have other promises- the universal ones.
I have the power of the Holy Spirit within me.
I am saved through the blood of Jesus.
God will finish the good work He's begun in me.
My Jesus is coming back.
I will be in heaven with God when I die.
My life looks different than I hoped, and even though I really wish that God would promise me children, my hope finds an anchor in God’s goodness and the promises He gave us through His Son.
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