Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7
Spring is in full force here in Wisconsin. I can see it bursting forth in the buds on the trees and in the little purple flowers peeking up above the ever growing blades of grass. The Sugar River has begun sweetly flowing again, and any sign of frozen ground has melted away. It seems too poetic to say that my heart is experiencing its own season of new life. The winter was hard, both on my soul and on my body. But God has begun placing sweet blossoms of hope on the hard places of my life and I’m seeing Him revive me in every sense of that word.
Revive. What emotion that word evokes for me! I know I keep talking about this same battle, but it’s the battle that has most tried to define me. Infertility…infertile…as in nothing will grow. And I believed that for a short while with all my heart…that nothing would or could grow from me. I sought doctors who prodded and tried to jump start my body, but nothing. I had placed my hope in needles and in x-rays and in hormone therapies and in procedures. And as sterile as those doctor’s offices felt…so did my heart.
I had wanted Jesus to bring about new life naturally. I hope that one day He will. But for now, I am experiencing a form of new life that I had not planned on. I feel as if something inside me has woken up. Some storehouse of Joy that I had left untapped. My husband and I are on a new adventure, and I had thought maybe that was what had made the difference. But I think it goes deeper than that.
It goes all the way down to the roots of my disappointments and to the ugliness of my dark days. As we come out of the season of Lent, the season of grieving both for our Savior and because of our sins, I have discovered that Jesus went right to the darkness I had reserved for myself. He broke down that door, and He entered with Life.
Joy has everything to do with Hope, and is based entirely on Grace. Infertility brought out the ugliest side of me I have ever seen. I was broken, shattered, fragile, and bitter. I cried more nights than I didn’t. I literally grieved for a life that never existed. And yet I kept pushing. Something would come of this. Something HAD to come from this. And so I preached Hope. I clung to Grace. Even in my ugliness I ran toward my Savior. I wasn’t sure how this battle would end….I just knew it would.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24
I am not pregnant…and yet I feel like this battle has been won. I can feel it in my soul. I walked blindly for over three years with the hope that infertility would fade away, and I grieved what I thought I had lost. I prayed God would heal my heart, even if He chose never to heal my body. I prayed that infertility wouldn’t become my idol…that it wouldn’t cover up who I am in Him.
I prayed those words, but I’m not sure that I actually expected to feel almost a physical weight being lifted up off of my shoulders. I told my women’s group a few months ago, that I actually felt like I was coming out the other side of this battle. A friend had sent me a message, concerned that I had lost the peace that passes all understanding. And just in that week before I read what she wrote, I had experienced that exactly. I do not understand how the bitterness of my soul was lifted. I can not explain why the depth of sadness in my heart has been healed. But it has continued on being healed, more and more so each day.
Next month is Mother’s Day. For three years that has been a day of sadness for me. I watched as mother’s in our churches were praised and how their children loved them. And I couldn’t understand why God would keep me from becoming a mother. I was broken as those around me became pregnant and as their families continued to grow.
But now…something has changed. I have been changed.
My life was never mine to plan out. God has shown me this so clearly. I belong to Him, every part of me does. And this is true whether we are aware of it or not. He is our creator, our Father, our maker. Our lives belong to Him. And we can go through this life kicking and screaming, complaining at every “wrong” turn, or we can surrender.
We can surrender to the beautiful sound of Grace in our lives. We can sit back and watch how God unfolds the moments of our life right before our eyes. Beautiful lives don’t come from plans and savings and working our days away. They come from the Giver of Life. They come when we loosen our grip on bitterness and disappointment and heartbreak. We so often hold onto to those things…and we don’t have to.
We may experience hard winters. We may feel them coming. We may see everything freeze around us. And yet…God will bring about Spring. He can melt what freezes in us. He can bring fresh sprigs of green from hearts that we thought couldn’t grow anything. You are not what you battle. You are who He says you are, His child, His beloved, His redeemed.
Joy won’t come with the fulfillment of our plans. It won’t come in the safety of our savings. Joy is found in Him alone.
Your life is found in Him alone. Until we turn our faces toward Him, we are simply wandering away. I used to worry that all this talk about prayer would simply be talk. That I would talk to God, and He would always for eternity tell me to wait. I was scared that I wouldn’t see an answer, that I wouldn’t feel a difference.
But I feel changed. And my circumstances haven’t changed. The only explanation is Jesus.
I find myself completely defined in this hymn, Amazing Grace. It is who I was and who I am and who I will become.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that Saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.
The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun. – John Newton
Friend, if you have been praying that God would heal you, that He would mend your broken spirit, that He would revive your withered soul…know that He will. He is faithful. He who created the heavens and the earth, He who became like us and died a death that only we deserved, He who conquered death and who declared victory over our sins…He has not forgotten who you are. He won’t leave you alone in this.
I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 49: 15b-16a