This is the third 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.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.”
Have you ever loved something so much that you couldn’t imagine living without it? When I was young, the two dearest possessions in the world to me were my cockatiel, Poppy, and my Siberian husky, Brady. Even though they belonged to everyone in the family, I treasured them as though they were mine alone. As a child, I had learned that Christians should surrender everything to the Lord and live with the understanding that all they “owned” actually belonged to Him. Since I loved the Lord, I wanted to give Him everything, but I had some reservations. In my immature thinking, I was afraid that if I gave all I had to the Lord, He would take my beloved pets away from me as some sort of test of my faithfulness to Him, kind of like Abraham and Isaac, I suppose. Although I understood that God was in control, I clearly did not trust His goodness, and as a result, I thought I’d better keep my treasured animals to myself.
Sounds pretty funny, right? The sad part is that over twenty years later I sometimes find my thinking hasn’t changed all that much. Even though I’m all grown up now and have come a long way in my walk with Christ, I still struggle with the same problem that troubled me as a young girl—I know that God is sovereign, but I sometimes doubt He is truly good. And if I fail to trust that God is truly good, then how can I trust Him with my most treasured plans or possessions?
Lesson Two: Surrender—God is good…all the time
Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “Total surrender to Christ as Lord simply means submitting every detail and dimension of our lives to His sovereign, loving rule.” In my struggle with childlessness, submitting to God’s sovereignty wasn’t enough; I also needed to rest in His infinite love and goodness. We simply can’t surrender our lives to the Lord if we aren’t fully convinced of His goodness at all times.
God is good—the words flow easily…as long as He gives me everything I want. Can you relate? God provides a job, heals a relationship, sends good news from the doctor, or saves a family member, and “Isn’t God good?” His goodness seems so obvious that praise is the natural response. But when a child is sick, a husband is cold and distant, the bills pile up, the pregnancy test is negative, friends turn their backs, or pain and loneliness remain constant companions, is God still good? When God gives, it’s so easy to praise His name, but when He takes away, our response rarely sounds like Job’s (Job 1:21).
Although they never feel like it, times of suffering are a gift. They provide us with opportunities to learn more about our heart than we ever would otherwise. If God had protected me from the pain of infertility, I could have gone for years without a clue that I actually doubted His goodness. I had come to equate God’s goodness with His willingness to fulfill my wishes. When He didn’t cause my “good” plans to materialize, it wasn’t my own perspective on life that I questioned—it was His. Surrender became a battle because I didn’t have the faith to believe that God’s plans will always be infinitely better than my expectations.
Like rebellious children, we often fail to trust that God as our loving, Heavenly Father knows what is best for us. Psalm 84:11 says, “The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” If we’re walking uprightly and the Lord still withholds something we desire, then the Scripture makes it clear that what we are asking for is not the best thing for us at that time. John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace,” made this insightful comment regarding God’s goodness toward His children, “He chooses for his people better than they could choose for themselves. If they are in heaviness, there is a need-be for it, and he withholds nothing from them but what, upon the whole, it is better they should be without.”
There are many times in life when God’s ways will make no sense to us. In those moments, we can react like spoiled children by doubting His goodness, or we can respond in childlike faith by determining to trust that His ways are far better than our own (Isaiah 55:9). He is a good Father who promises to give good gifts to His children. Our wildest dreams can’t compare to the greatness of the plans God has for us. As we learn to surrender our every dream, desire, and possession into His loving hands, I believe that we, like Isaiah, will one day be able to look back on our lives and respond in wholehearted praise, “You did awesome things which we did not expect” (Isaiah 64:3).
Read Part Four HERE.