People of faith mourn as they express their– Kimberly Monroe
faith while suffering. We cry out for relief, for
escape, for understanding, for perspective.
“God, help me to understand this.” We desire something we don’t have. And we mourn.”
My daughter’s favorite book of all time is a board book called First Bible Basics. Of all the choices in her book basket she pulls out this book to look through the most often. It lists some basic Christian truths in numbered 1 – 10, such as the four books in the Gospels, six days of creation, etc. One of them is the eight Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, and reading this book over and over to my toddler has caused me to think more on these verses that I would normally gloss over. You have probably heard of the Beatitudes: “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…” The one that made me think twice was “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” in Matthew 5.
This verse first and foremost refers to the mourning that occurs when we become truly aware of our own offense against God and repent and turn away from our own sinful nature. But it also refers to the inevitable mourning of the brokenness that results from sin residing in this world. When I read it again, it caught me off guard because when you’re mourning, you feel anything but blessed. Saying that someone is blessed gives the impression that they are happy, they’re favored, and that they have received what they want. When you weep for the fact that your body can’t do what everyone else’s seems to be able to do or haven’t been given what others get easily, you feel anything but blessed.
A book that has had a profound effect on me since I have read it is “The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering” by Vaneetha Rendall Risner. I highly recommend you read the entire book cover to cover, put it away, think through it, and then read it again. The chapter “Unfulfilled Longings” has particularly spoken to me as I reflect on our years waiting for our daughter and as we wait for her sibling. Vaneetha explains in the chapter that it’s right, healthy, and Biblical to go to God with our affliction. And yet also, she explains, “we should live life to the fullest with what we’ve been given.”
“We all have longings. Crying out to God to fulfill them or change them or give us the strength to endure them strengthens our faith. Denying our longings under the guise of contentment may keep us from pain, may look more spiritual, and may make us less emotional, but it can lead to spiritual deadness.”
“Spiritual deadness.” So what is a couple suffering through infertility to do? They long for the physical blessing of children here on earth, at the same time knowing that only God can fill the deepest void and bring true contentment. We yearn and fervently pray for an answer to the pain of infertility, while asking God to, as the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” describes it, “Let that goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
They are to mourn. Mourn the children who are not in their arms. Mourn the dreams that feel like they’re being dashed against the rocks. And they will be blessed in and through their mourning. By mourning for what we do not have, we are reminded of the one thing that cannot be taken from us: God’s saving grace.
To the woman who is weary of her body not working like it should – let her mourn
To the woman who is asking God for mercy and justice to be done in response to her suffering – let her mourn
To the man who feels helpless on how to support his wife through the constant heartache – let him mourn
To the couple who finally saved enough money to attempt their first infertility treatment only to have it canceled – let them mourn
But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!”Psalm 69:29
To the woman who is tired of hearing “Just relax, it will all work out!” – let her mourn
To the couple who has tried to explain the crushing pain of childlessness only to be told “You can always just adopt” – let them mourn
To the man who feels that his manhood and ability to carry on his physical traits has been stolen from him – let him mourn
To the woman who miscarried and was told “At least you know you can get pregnant” – let her mourn
To the man who longs to have children to reer, protect, and guide – let him mourn
To the couple who is crying out to God to deliver them and heal them – let them mourn
So often our reaction to sadness, regret, or hardship of infertility is a quick word of encouragement or good tidings. We do not mean these as thoughtless platitudes; they are often our own human rationalizing to the confusion and unfairness of suffering. I promise you that the stories of success, adoption changing lives, people becoming pregnant against impossible odds, ways in which infertility was a blessing, and realizations that the timing had been right all along, will still be there when they are ready to hear them. Let them mourn, because it is the only way to come out the other side and find gratitude for this season.
For now, if infertility is where God has them, let them mourn.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”Psalm 30:5
We mourn, but we are not bitter. We mourn, but we do not despair. We mourn, but we mourn with hope. We mourn, but we look forward to the day we have our bodies restored in heaven. We mourn because we know God will comfort us. We mourn because we know that God will bless us as we mourn our unmet longings. Whether he fulfills our longings in this life is up to Him.
“Life is full of pain. Sometimes God miraculously delivers us. When he does, we rejoice and give him glory. He makes all things new and brings beauty from ashes. Sometimes we aren’t delivered, but he gives us true contentment in our circumstances, so the world can see his peace and satisfaction. And sometimes he leaves us with a constant ache, a reminder that this world is not our home, and we are just strangers passing through. This relentless ache is what drives me to my knees, brings me to Jesus, makes me long for heaven. And perhaps in heaven, I will thank God most for my unfulfilled longings because they did the deepest, most lasting work in my soul.”
The 2020 National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was April 19 – 25, hosted by RESOLVE.