In May 2014, I found out that my friend Carter had died. That was 28 months into my infertility journey. Twenty-eight months of Please, God, please; No, Lord, no; and Show us your grace, Father. Twenty-eight cycles of wait, despair, and trust in the One who planned purpose in it all. My husband and I had endured the tests, taken the standard medication, administered the shots, and had found ourselves with medically diagnosed “unexplained infertility.” And we were two months from the end of our treatment plan and from giving over our unmet hope of biological children to God and resting in him there.
We had tried to figure out why God would withhold a child from us. Was he disciplining us? Was he protecting us from something we didn’t know? Did he have an entirely different purpose for our lives that could not be fulfilled with biological children? We never landed on an answer, but we knew God was at work. Like Jesus in Gethsemane or Paul with his thorn, our heavenly Father always has a greater purpose that requires quiet obedience. Job did not receive explanations, only assurances of God’s character. God is full of surprises, and by his grace we found peace in whatever his plan for our lives—with or without kids—because we learned to trust that we truly wanted what he wanted for us.
And we wanted what he promises: more and more of himself.
Carter Knox had been my boss, mentor, and grandfather in the faith. His mission was to bring Christ to corporate America through servant leadership. And as executive vice president of human resources, he actually saw his resources as human. He knew how his colleagues suffered, the struggling relationships, the drug addictions, the financial crises, and the closed womb. And he prayed for it all. When he retired, he continued to pray, emailing me his prayer updates and asking for mine.
Carter helped to bear our burdens in the infertility struggle. My husband and I often felt out of place in a sea of happy, healthy families. But we were anything but alone in our wait. We could see others waiting all around us, because we’re all waiting: for a spouse, for salvation of friends and family, for deliverance from sin, for Jesus to return. Friends empathized and walked with us in our valley, though their valleys had their own shapes and contours.
Carter knew something about waiting on the Lord in the despair of difficult circumstances. Like us all, he had his own temptations to battle, brokenness in himself and in those dearest to him, and the frustration of good desires unmet by a good, all-knowing God. He had experienced both the anguish of succumbing to sin and also the freedom of being raised to life in Christ. In his walks through valleys, God had proven faithful and timely. And God blessed me with this wise, experienced saint to testify to God’s loving kindness to his dear children.
Though Carter and I moved 2,500 miles apart, he walked with us in the already, but not yet—the hope we have in God’s healing, but the longing for an unencumbered creation, where all things have been made new. He would write to me about hope that’s real because it was founded on the promises of Christ. He wasn’t insensitive or dismissive with well-meaning but unhelpful advice like, “Don’t worry; it’ll happen.” He knew it might not, but that if we were never to get pregnant, God is still good; and we should still ask him for a baby. He could say with sincerity that God delights in giving his children good gifts, while speaking with a friend who dearly wanted a gift withheld. Also, one of Carter’s favorite sayings was, “The future has a way of finding you before you know you need it.”
In other words, Carter was a bit prophetic.
On March 7, 2014, he wrote me this email:
You both have been in my prayers in regards to being blessed with your little angel . . . Holy Spirit prompted me to send this to you . . . you both have had your dream of children in “the bud” for a long time . . . perhaps this mid-May the bud begins to bloom for you, coming to full fruit this fall. . . .
Our family is doing well, we are expecting out first Great Grandchild the circle of life continues and they just keep coming . . . I have informed all of my current grandchildren that I will now be “The Great Grandfather” or if they choose they can shorten it and refer to me as “Great” 🙂
The Lord has been working some great miracles in my life and I thank him for all he has done and continues to do . . . thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers.
When I received the email in March, I simply thought, He’s praying; that’s good. The prophecy within the email didn’t really strike me, perhaps due to my unbelieving heart or due to self-protection within a long wait. It wasn’t until I searched for our last words to each other after his death in May that I understood his message. To let my body recover, we’d tried no fertility treatments that month, so pregnancy was the furthest thing from my mind. But it hit me re-reading the email: It should be month 29 now.
But it wasn’t.
All Things New
When you want something for so long, it’s hard to believe that lack has turned to abundance, that the wait is over. It was also hard to believe God used Carter Knox to speak to me. I believed in the concept of miracles, but I’d never seen one in my life. Perhaps that fact had subconsciously dulled my expectation of receiving one. The role of a suffering servant was almost more comforting than the doted-on child. God taught me that not only is he Lord of the wait, but he’s also completely good with his sovereign choices in my life, every single one of them. And he’s truly at work! He’s real, all-powerful and active in my life. I stand in awe of him.
After re-reading the email from Carter, I took a pregnancy test, and it looked different from the others. Though hard to believe, God opened my womb, started the thump of the heartbeat and brought life forth. Christ indeed makes all things new. Two years ago our son, Carter, was born.
Not every story has such a happy ending. They certainly haven’t in my life. I am still waiting on many things from God—many thorns to be taken away, many cups to be removed, many questions about our second infertility journey and if our family will ever expand beyond three. But I have little Carter, and I have Carter’s letter, reminding me that there really are “great miracles in my life.” And there will be a happy ending to the Christian’s story: an eternity praising the One who “acts for those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4).
Editors’ note: An earlier version of this article appeared in the July 2015 issue of The Behemoth.