I grew up with a desire for marriage and children. I had names for four future children by the age of ten. But our expectations and realities do not always match--particularly in the area of fertility.
My community is comprised of women with more children than they ever imagined and others surprised by infertility. Some struggle to maintain sanity in a house full of little ones while others yearn for the joy of pregnancy. I’m somewhere in between.
My husband and I are the thankful parents of two precious daughters. We would be grateful for more children and have prayed for over three years for this gift without conception.
I’m technically "sub-fertile" with what is known as secondary infertility. Here, a couple that has already produced, at least one child, will suddenly face difficulty conceiving another. In most cases, couples are considered infertile or sub-fertile after a year of trying without conception.
Both motherhood and the desire for more children have proven to be useful instruments in God’s hands, dissecting and revealing my heart. As I kneel today to pray for a third child, here are three truths that resound:
God doesn’t owe me children
God’s commandment to Adam and Eve was clear: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Still, the couple ate the forbidden fruit and committed cosmic treason against their Creator (Genesis 3:4-6).
Physical death was among the dreadful consequences of that sin. In Genesis 3:19, God tells Adam: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” God’s Word proves true--Adam and Eve would die.
Yet, even in His judgement, we see God’s unparalleled grace. Our first parents are spared from immediate death. They live to see another day. And they are given many days after that.
God covers them with a garment of His own making and sustains them with a promise--an Offspring would come who would crush the head of the deceiving serpent (Genesis 3:15; 3:21). God ordains life in the shadow of death. Eve is named the mother of the living, she lives to bear children (Genesis 3:20). God is gracious.
Every child born to the fallen progeny of Adam and Eve shouts of God’s unmerited mercy! He owes us nothing but judgement, so which of us can claim the gift of children on the basis of our goodness? Children, like all good gifts, are not earned but are given from above (James 1:17). Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him and He doesn’t owe me children (Psalm 115:3).
Still, I will pray
Darlene Deibler Rose lived in Indonesia as a missionary in the 1930s. She was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned during WWII. Her book, Evidence Not Seen, tells a remarkable story of God’s kindness and power seen through the instrument of prayer.
Detained in a cell, Darlene witnessed someone smuggling bananas to a fellow prisoner. Barely surviving on meager rations of rice porridge, she was suddenly gripped by the desire for a banana. Everything in her wanted one--she could almost see, smell and taste bananas...so she prayed: “Lord just one banana.” But how could God possibly get a banana to her in a WWII prison? Her brutal guards would sooner kill her than provide such nourishment. Was she wrong to ask for such a thing?
The following day, Darlene was surprised by the visit of a certain camp commander--an unexpected friend. Tears filled the eyes of the commander as he gazed on her emaciated form. He spoke briefly with her and left. Moments after his departure, a guard walked into a her cell and threw a bunch of bananas at her feet. Her friend had managed this favor without her knowledge. Stunned, Darlene counted to find ninety-two bananas...she had prayed for just one.
God is pleased to display His omnipotence and love through the instrument of prayer. I’m reminded here of a sermon by the late James Boise. He explains that while God is sovereign and orders everything according to the counsel of His own will, He nevertheless accomplishes those purposes through means--among which is prayer (Ephesians 1:16).
Prayer then is a gracious and glorious privilege for the believer, it makes us laborers in God’s work of fulfilling His purposes on earth, as done in heaven (Matthew 6:10). And because our Father is pleased to work through the means of prayer, we bring everything to Him--from bananas to babies (Philippians 4:6)!
In Everything Give Thanks
God doesn’t owe me children. Yet I will pray. Like Hannah, I will plea to the God who enables conception (1 Samuel 1:9-18). And if the coming months bring a due date or dates marked in red, I will cling to the Sovereign Author of my story. He does all things well.
Expectations and realities do not always match. Our hopes (deferred and realized) are useful instruments in God's hands. More children may or may not come for us. Whatever the case, we will give thanks to the God who has given us two children we do not deserve (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This article was originally published at Missionary Mama on Nov 28, 2016