Time, in retrospect, passes quickly. When you are in the midst of it, however, not knowing how or when or if it will end, it is long. For some time now, we have prayed for children. The struggles of friends--with infertility, with the loss of a child, with other difficulties--kept me ever mindful that fruitfulness is not a right. It is not a guarantee. Children are a privilege and a gift. Although we do not understand the reasons, it seems that God graciously blesses some couples with children and--just as graciously, if we accept that God continually provides for our good--withholds them them from other couples. Sometimes the couples desperately desiring children seem far more deserving than those to whom God gives children. From where I sit, it isn't fair.
Recognizing that, I could not make the assumption that we would, of course, have children. Instead, I have prayed for grace to accept His will with grace. I have expended much time and effort preparing myself for the possibility that God would not choose to bless us with biological children. I contemplated a future filled with things other than children. We discussed adoption. Along the way, many babies have been born. The pregnancies of many friends I have greeted with sincere gladness, a few I have genuinely and angrily railed against. Reaching out to friends with babies helped me not grow hard, even while it sometimes brought pain. Hurting with friends who have had child-related sorrows reminded me constantly that children are a gift, not a guarantee. In my anxiety to readily "accept good from God" as well as "adversity," I almost convinced myself that we would not be able to have children of our own, and I struggled to turn in faith to Christ.
Last autumn, it finally seemed that peace had arrived to stay. Even with the prospect of denial, I knew God's grace was sufficient for whatever would come. In this one area, I accepted with contentment the reality that, sometimes, God says "No." I had a day or two of revisiting the battle, but for several months life was settled. God is good, His plan is good, and I can trust Him.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, "Yes." A positive pregnancy test left me reeling. . .really in a state of mild shock. For so long I had wrestled with having a godly response to God's "No," I was completely unprepared for the possibility of a "Yes!"
You think that getting what you want is the easy course, certainly. There's not the need to prepare to receive good from God in faith as there is to accept trouble with the same faith, or so we think. But in the face of many who are still hurting, desiring children, I find myself unable to carelessly move on.
Do not misunderstand. We are thrilled with this blessing. God has been good to us, and I am filled with gratitude. But I cannot shrug off the heaviness of many who are still waiting, or who have received "no," after "no," after "no." It is not guilt, but awareness of how undeserving I am of every blessing God gives. I cannot comprehend why God answers some prayers one way and some another, to utter disregard of what seems good to us. I do not believe it is a measure of our faith, our obedience, our godliness. While God is "no respecter of persons," He did not promise we should all have the same trials, or the same blessings. I see no recourse but to trust God's providence and omniscience, unless it is to devolve into bitterness and anger. If we were not currently expecting, I would still be undeserving of His many blessings. God would still be good.
That is easy for me to say, sitting in the realm of granted prayer. I know. But I said it 5 months ago, just as certainly, not knowing what answer this particular prayer would eventually receive or when that answer might come.
For some there will be irony in me sharing this now, and perhaps a shadow is cast on my credibility. We do not have all the answers, and I hope I would not presume to lecture someone else in the midst of a similar trial. But this is where we have been. I did not share before, because I did not want to answer the personal questions it might have engendered. It was still too close to home. This has been a difficult learning period for me. And, while I do not doubt I shall have to be reminded and even re-taught in the future, it has been a lesson worth learning.
The third verse of a hymn we sang in worship this past Sunday is fitting. The hymn is O Father, You Are Sovereign, by Margaret Clarkson.
O Father, you are sovereign, the Lord of human pain,
transmuting earthly sorrows to gold of heav'nly gain.
All evil overruling, as none but Conqu'ror could,
your love pursues its purpose--our souls' eternal good.