It can be very hard to find reasons for gratefulness when it comes to infertility. The consistent bombardment of a seemingly hopeless situation often left me more bitter than grateful. But I am grateful for how God has blessed me with a deeper appreciation of prayer. Prayer is a gift to us. Prayer is radical; it can cause us to be thankful for circumstances that cause us to fall to our knees in humble acceptance of our reliance on God and God alone to rescue and redeem.
My youngest sister, Bethany, was a nine month stillborn. On my 12th birthday, she choked on her umbilical cord one day before my mother’s scheduled induction. The period following her death was one of the most painful times for my family. My young brain had a difficult time wrapping around the magnitude of the loss. It was the first time that I consciously remember questioning God’s goodness. For her memorial service, and on her tombstone, my parents chose the mantra, “She caused people to pray.” Because she did. People inside and outside of our community came together to pray for our family.
The overriding theme of the comments after we announced our pregnancy were “I have been praying for you.” The realization of how many people have prayed for us over these last few years has been another way that I have seen God at work in the lives of our friends, family, and our church. My infertility caused people to pray. It doesn’t make the path easier, or make me wish that we had to go through that season. But I cannot regret that people were given a reason to draw close to God in fervent prayer on our behalf.
I have learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to share with others how you are suffering. How can others have a taste of your pain and join in with your grieving if they do not know? Likewise, how can they know the depth of your joy when a prayer is finally answered? I had lunch with a friend after we found out I was pregnant, and we were talking about the response I had received from our announcement. She thanked me for sharing my journey, because she would not have known how much it meant for me to become pregnant if I had not been open about my experience.
The deep wound of infertility has not healed, and to be honest I don’t want it to. Sue Bohlin said, “One of the most incredibly comforting things we can ever experience is someone else’s tears for us.” I want to be able to pray, cry, understand, and empathize with others who are walking and will walk a similar path. I wouldn’t be able to do that in the same way if God hadn’t had it in his plan for us to wait for a child.
And I can’t bring all this up without acknowledging that infertility caused me to pray. Most of the time it was a simple cry of “God, help me. Come quickly. Rescue me.” There were times in my grief that I could not even verbalize that much. But every time that my inability to conceive caused me to seek out my heavenly Father was an opportunity for my faith to grow, for me to become smaller and God to become bigger…
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
…and for the gift of thanksgiving and rejoicing over an answered prayer to be that much sweeter on my lips.
“Shine on me,
Let my shadows prove the sunshine.”
“The Shadow Proves the Sunshine” by Switchfoot