Worshiping with Empty Arms (Pt. 2)

This is the second part of a series on my experience with childlessness which I first shared on Precious Adornment two years ago. You can read Part 1 HERE.


“Many plans are in a man’s heart,
but the counsel of the LORD will stand.”

Proverbs 19:21

A few years back somebody somewhere put something in the water, and my friends started having babies. The trend began slowly; first one friend, then another, then another, until it seemed that everyone was having a baby!

Except for me, that is.

There was never anything in my water. I wanted there to be. I hoped and prayed there would be, but apparently all I had was plain old drinking water. For a girl who had spent the majority of her life planning, reading, and thinking about the kind of mother she would one day become, this was not good news. In fact, as time went on, this delay of motherhood became very bad news indeed. But even though I was slow to catch on, God had a purpose for my struggle with infertility, a grand and glorious purpose to show me more of Himself and to conform me more closely to the image of His Son.

The lessons He taught me are not unique to my situation; they’re lessons every Christian needs to learn. And that is why I write. Perhaps you can’t identify with the pain of infertility, but you can probably identify with the pain of a desire denied, whether it be a desire for marriage, physical healing, the love of another person, peace within your family, success in your job, or any other number of issues. As I share the lessons God has taught me through my four year [six years now] experience with infertility, my hope is that He would use my writing to speak to your heart and encourage you in your own walk
with Christ.

Lesson One: Submission—God is God; I am not.

God is in control. It’s a saying we as Christians love to use, but don’t necessarily love to live. Let me explain—we usually love the fact that God is in control right up until the point when He begins orchestrating the events of our lives differently than we would ourselves. Before my experience with infertility began, if you had asked me who was in control of my life, I could have told you without question that God was in control. What I wouldn’t have realized at that time was that my notion of God’s sovereignty was somewhat foggy, and as a result I was not yet living in joyful submission to His control.

After we married, Joseph and I didn’t wait long before deciding we were ready to open our hearts to the blessing of children; it was about nine months. During those first few months of our married life, I lived under the false assumption that I was controlling whether or not conception would take place. So when we decided we were ready to be parents, I was a bit surprised when things didn’t progress in exactly the way I had imagined. Although I knew God was the Author of human life and that life is a gift from His hands, I lived as though I were actually the one in control. My focus was on me, what I wanted, what I was ready for, and how I wanted my life to progress, but thankfully God loved me enough to deliver me from the delusion that I had any real control over the events of my life.

With every passing month, God gently knocked on my thick skull to remind me who was really in charge. It’s sad to say that during that first year, my response to God’s instruction in this area was less than ideal and turned into what I described previously as an adult temper tantrum. Although I was still praying and attempting to respond in obedience to God’s will, a fierce battle took place as the idols of my heart reared their ugly heads. There were months of depression, loneliness, and near hopelessness as I attempted to deal with the life that I had never planned on living. Plan A was to be a mom; I had never even considered coming up with a Plan B.

A few months into this trial, it just so happened (yeah, right!) that I signed up for an in-depth Bible study on the book of Genesis. In the lives of Sarah, Leah, and Rachel, I saw multiple sinful responses to the trial of infertility—anger, doubt, bitterness, manipulation, strife, and hopelessness. Barrenness, it seems, has always brought out the worst in people. As these women resorted to all sorts of trickery and silly schemes to get what they wanted, they failed to realize the truth that God was now graciously teaching me through their lives—He opens and closes the womb, not us. Over and over again I saw this clear statement of God’s sovereignty repeated in the book of Genesis, and slowly, very slowly, God began to tear down the idols that I had allowed to take His place in my heart.

Martin Luther said, “That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.” During the months or years that I continued my adult temper tantrum, my mouth may have professed God as being all that I needed, but my attitudes and actions revealed a heart that believed I needed more. I had stopped looking to God as my Refuge and Strength and had turned instead to worship lesser gods like children, motherhood, and family life. Although I didn’t know God’s future plans for me, His present plans were clear—He had closed my womb. To continue fighting against this part of God’s will for me was to fight against God Himself.

So, finally, somewhere along the way (I’m not even sure when), God brought me to a place of contented submission to His will, and I praise Him for it. One of my favorite songs by Wayne Watson has a line that says, “The hardest prayer to pray is slow to come—Oh, Lord, not mine, but Your will be done.” He’s right. This prayer is slow to come, and although it’s the hardest, it’s also the best.


Read Part Three HERE.

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