It's been a few months since we received the hard news that our struggle with infertility would require more treatment before we are able to proceed with trying to get pregnant. Few things feel worse than waking up from surgery and hearing the words, “It was worse than the doctor thought; you will need more treatment.” I went into surgery hopeful and came out feeling like I had been punched in the stomach (physically and emotionally). This is not how we planned. This is hardly what we wanted. And this diagnosis only prolonged, and solidified, that we weren't just a couple who was having a hard time getting pregnant again. We were infertile, at least for the time being.
I wish I could say that my response to this news has always been Christ-like and admirable. It hasn't. But through this trial, God has taught me some specific things about his character, my depravity, and his goodness in all things. I believe that God is absolutely sovereign over my infertility in the same way that I believe he was sovereign over my miscarriage. It was not a surprise to him. In fact, it was designed by him for my good, and he doesn't want me to waste this suffering. What I've learned is hardly exhaustive, but it's a start. If you are struggling with infertility, too, I pray that God uses these words to encourage you as we walk this road together.
Not wasting your infertility starts with a deep and abiding trust in the God who knows the end of your infertility.
He knows the end of it because he gave it to you (Gen. 50:20; Job 2:10; Ps. 88:6-7). But he also knows the end of it because only he can truly heal your body and give you a baby. Know God's Word. Study it. Live off of it. It is in his Word that you will see God and know him more deeply. You will find that he is good all of the time, that he loves you more than you know, and that he wants to give you a greater knowledge of himself through this devastating trial. In his Word you will find comfort for your soul. Not wasting your infertility is a constant fight to see God as good, but it's a fight worth having.
Not wasting your infertility means you worship even when your heart is breaking.
John Piper says that the “unwasted life is the one that continually puts Christ on display.” That's what worship is, giving God the glory due his name. Worship means treasuring Christ above all things, even a baby.
Not wasting your infertility means praying boldly.
Only when we trust God as the all-sufficient creator, healer, and sustainer can we worship him and also pray to him boldly. Knowing God enables us to pray to him with confidence that he can and will act in our best interests. Infertility is a disease of the helpless. You can't change your condition. You can't make two blue lines show up on a pregnancy test instead of one. But God can. Your experience with being utterly helpless to change your circumstance puts you in fellowship with many biblical characters. Pray like King David in the Psalms (see Psalm 27, 28, 30, 56, 62 and many others). He faced great difficulty and tribulation. His prayers were honest, bold, and worshipful because he trusted in God to be his hope and salvation.
Not wasting your infertility doesn't mean you can avoid grieving and pain.
This might seem like an odd addition, but the unwasted life isn't the triumphalistic life. The apostle Paul accurately described walking through this life as, “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). That applies to infertility as well. We are sorrowful because it's devastating, painful, and sometimes neverending. But we are rejoicing because we have hope that this is not all there is to life. It's not that we are happy with our circumstances. There is nothing happy about infertility. Oh, but there is a great Savior who has given us everything we need through his death—including comfort in our pain.
Not wasting your infertility means taking your thoughts and emotions captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
Infertility brings with it a minefield of scary scenarios and questions (What if I can't get pregnant? What if I miscarry again? What if I can't afford treatment?). Those thoughts tend to bring emotions, which then bring stress and worry. Infertility, like all suffering, has a way of putting pressure on us and our relationships. Infertility doesn't bring with it a free pass on how I treat people, my husband especially. Nor does it give us license to daydream about the many “What if's” that come with infertility. I have learned this the hard way. God gave us real emotions and feelings, but they are not morally neutral. And our husbands are real people who hurt just as much as we do. Talking to yourself, instead of listening to yourself, is especially helpful when you feel your emotions taking over. Ask yourself, “Is this feeling true?” (Phil. 4:8) If it is, you have a faithful, sympathetic Savior who understands your feelings. If it's not, that same Savior is able to comfort you and change your feelings for his glory.
Practical suggestions and ways to stay busy can be helpful, but even more important, the practical cannot happen unless we embrace Christ as our greatest treasure in our season of infertility. Sure, we can find ways to stay busy to take our mind off the pain, and those are good things to do (I've done it). But busyness in order to run from the suffering is not the same things as busyness in order to fill the season with good things. God has designed suffering to chisel us more into the image of Christ, to draw us closer to himself, and to give us a greater vision and understanding of his glory. We could easily miss that if we fill our schedules in order to forget.
I don't know the outcome of my journey of infertility. Right now, I know that I've still got a road ahead of me that needs to be traveled. I don't know where you are, either. But I do know this: no matter where we are in the journey of infertility, God has a sure and good purpose for us. He will test us, he will chisel us, and he will show us more of himself every step of the way. And after he has tried us, by his grace, we will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).