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The Big If

Originally published Thursday, 10 April 2014.

April is Infertility Awareness month. While we generally share items of interest for the bulk of the population, during this particular month we like to highlight the subject of infertility because we know from experience it can be a very hard journey as individuals and as a couple. We hope you will find some encouragement as we share this series of devotional thoughts with you the next four weeks. If you are walking this journey, we'd love to pray for you, so drop us a line. If you know someone who could use some encouragement for their journey, please let them know we will be posting on the topic. In the meantime, don't miss the devotional give-away at the close of the post.
With love and prayers, 

IF. Stands for infertility. A big ugly word that hangs over the hearts of more than seven million people. It’s also a complicated word. It’s a word that lots of people think is an easy fix when it’s not. It's word that simultaneously brings silence and shouting to deep places in one’s soul. A word that touches things inside you that you didn’t want to be touched. And it’s not the end of the story.

As my husband and I have traveled this road of waiting to have a baby, of doctor’s appointments, prayer, seeking, hoping, reading and studying, charting temperatures and unmentionables, and buying an insane amount of pregnancy tests, we’ve learned things about God, about each other, about ourselves and about the power of empty places. God does amazing things in and through empty places.

•  The bottom of an empty well was the beginning of Joseph's destiny (Genesis 37:24)

•  A poverty stricken widow with children’s mouths to fill was at the end of her rope and found hope when God sent provision through Elisha and some empty jars (2 Kings 4:3-7)

•  The best of all the "empty" things in Scripture is the empty tomb (Luke 22:12)
The empty tomb means that Christ could not be held by the power of death and that He was indeed the sacrifice to end all sacrifices so that we might have forgiveness from our sins (Hebrews 10:10). Now we, "know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God"1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT.

Empty things no longer have a hold on our new life in Christ! Through the wrestling with emotions, laboring in prayer and the intensity of this journey, we’ve sought to lift up this empty place in our lives to let God do with it what He wanted. 

Whether your wait for a baby feels like an eternity or has just begun, the issue of infertility or struggling to conceive reaches far and wide across our identities, relationships with friends and family, our marriage and even our relationship with God.  And while the process hurts beyond description, if we let Him, God can do a beautiful work through all of it.

Consider the following stories from Scripture:

Ruth had been widowed at a young age. Her devotion to God led her to follow her also widowed mother-in-law back to the homeland of Israel. Ruth would always be a Moabite to the Jews - a foreigner. She couldn’t let herself dream of a husband, let alone ever having a baby. She would do well just to be able to work hard enough to feed herself and Naomi. But God had a plan. He blessed her with a good man, a son and a place in the lineage of Christ. His hand filled her emptiness and her life reflected His goodness.

A barren couple went about life as usual. The chores. The work. The wishing for a baby couldn’t be silenced, but what could they do? Manoah and his wife had no choice but to plug along and make do. Then one day an angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and promised her a baby. Not just any baby, but one with a special destiny. He would rescue Israel from her enemies. He would be a mighty warrior and judge. He would be Samson. And this couple would raise him in an unusual way to prepare him for all that God had in store for him.

Scripture records Elkanah and Hannah, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah as also being couples that God prepared for parenting a special child by giving them a long season of barrenness. I don’t know what God has planned for our family or yours, but I do know that He doesn’t waste our pain. He has collected every tear (Psalm 56:8) we cried as another month passed into another year without a baby. He has seen the longings of our hearts. God might be preparing us to parent a child with a special destiny like the parents from the above scripture passages. He also might have a great purpose for us to live out without having children of our own.

He makes the barren woman abide in the house

As a joyful mother of children.

Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9 NAS

There are kids at church, teens in your neighborhood, babies in foster care and adoption centers and children waiting to be “adopted” through organizations like Compassion. Now, I’ve been the recipient of a fair amount of comments like, “Just adopt.” Some of us with empty cradles feel led to adopt, some of us don’t. Some of us have tried and had the door shut. So I’m not throwing out some simple-fix answer. Just reminding us all that there might be things God has for us to accomplish without children of our own so that we might bless His children. Paul referred to Timothy as a spiritual son. Children can come in a variety of ways.

Can you imagine with some seven million people in the U.S. alone (as of the most recent available stats) who sought IF treatments, if we all prayed for direction to know how to bless just one of God’s kids what a difference He might make in this world through our “emptiness?” Whether God fills your family with blessed little ones or fills your heart with His children, I pray that you and your spouse would be comforted with the truth that God sees you, that He loves you, that you are not forgotten and that He has a plan - a good, wonderful, gracious plan.

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Looking for more encouragement for your journey through infertility? Check out: Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle - One Month Devotional for Couples It's not a pretty subject. It's not a warm-fuzzy feeling. The struggle with infertility or hampered fertility is a heavy burden for couples all over the world! In the U.S. alone more than 7.3 million people sought treatment for infertility in the last year - so guess what, you are NOT alone!




And better yet, God sees YOU!

Come along with us on this month long journey to discover God's heart for those of us who are waiting for Him to fill our cradles! PS- Stick around for the rest of this series and if you have any friends who might be struggling with infertility, invite them along! April is infertility awareness month and we are highlighting this issue this month.

(Article first published on Crosswalk.com )

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