“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”
In this picture is an exhausted mama, who hasn’t taken a shower in several days, with a sink full of dishes, toys scattered everywhere, two baskets of laundry to fold, groceries to pick up for the week, work things needing to be addressed and every single one of my babies having some sort of a mama need. Pure chaos. But when I look at this picture, I see the goodness of God on so many levels.
You see, my arms shouldn’t be full of those precious little ones according to science. I was told at a young age that I would either be barren or have difficulty getting pregnant due to my congenital adrenal disorder. I had always known this possible reality but tucked it away in some spot deep in my mind and pretended it would not be true. But it was.
Our infertility story involved five and half years of waiting for our firstborn, Darcie Grace, and two years of waiting for our Davey Joy. Those years felt like triple that. Many have walked this infertility road and know, regardless of the number of months or years you walk or if you pursued fertility treatments or not, it does not make a difference. It is a unique valley of sadness and despair grieving something you never tangibly had but the desire for it is very real. And both your desire and grief grow deeper with each abnormal and uncomfortable diagnostic test, lab result, change in medication, medication administration, negative pregnancy test, and sad phone call from the office confirming your “failure.”
And reminders of that unmet desire are everywhere. I remember seeing friend after friend get pregnant with their first, then second and third; and I rejoiced with each precious new life that was given to them, but on those same days would go home and soak my pillow in tears. I attended and helped throw what felt like countless baby showers and would many times go home angry at God from withholding such joy from me. To make matters worse, as a nurse practitioner, I also counseled many young women seeking abortions for unplanned pregnancies in my office as I desperately hoped for life within my own womb. Those days I often cursed at God through tears on my way home from work.
I dreaded Mother’s Day celebrations at church. I hated walking through the baby section at Target. I would be jealous of Facebook posts of people complaining about the mess and struggles of parenting. And so much more. Even now, my eyes are filled with tears as I recount so many of these times. It was a dark place for me that revealed a lot of ugliness in my heart – covetousness, self-righteousness, anger, bitterness, and just plain discontentment.
I hit my lowest point, when I saw a friend walk through a miscarriage and I found myself jealous of her pain. Yes, jealous. I wanted to experience the joy of knowing life was created in my womb, even if it meant that life would be taken in miscarriage. I remember at that moment sobbing and lamenting on the bathroom floor, cursing at God, basically unleashing all the glorious mess of emotions I had become onto Him. In my self-righteousness, I was telling him all the things I have done right and why he was wrong for withholding such good from me. Yes, I played a great victim. But even at this ugliest moment, I felt God so near to me. I felt so loved, I felt so heard and I felt so known. He was refining me in a way I did not even know I needed. You see, Satan was using my infertility to try and steal my joy, kill my faith, and destroy my Hope in the goodness of God by redefining what is good. Lysa Terkeust says it perfectly,
“Its easy to believe God when everything goes according to our plans. But when we assume we know what a good God would do, and He doesn’t do it our way? That’s when things can start to get a bit complicated. It’s the place where doubts are formed, and disappointment grows. The place where we can be tempted to distance ourselves from God with a heart of distrust. I think resetting how we define “good” is such a big part of learning to rely on our trustworthy God. We have to fight the urge to expect our version of God’s good timing, God’s good provision, and God’s good protection to match what we script out for our lives. God himself is good. And that means His plans are good, His ways are good, and we can trust Him at all times.”
I was telling God that what I knew to be good for me was better than the good, or God himself. I was elevating my desire of having children to be more important and life-giving than the Giver of life himself. But God, who is rich in mercy, forgives. And he forgave me again. Nothing I did, nor do, deserves it. "It is by grace through faith – and this is not from me, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:1-10) He is the good in my life. A minister once told me to preach myself the gospel every day and from it all other things will fall into place. It has proven true always for me. God is good. And he does good. Even when it is not the good we desire (Psalm 107:1: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.”) Yes, my body was barren, but in Him my soul is filled with the abundance of life always. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
One thing I can encourage for anyone going through any type of grief is that God not only provides hope, but God’s presence satisfies. Yes, pray to be diminished and pray for desires to be met, but that is not where the Hope lies. The Hope lies in God and in his presence. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)
Well, the picture speaks to the ending of this story. We were blessed with two beautiful, biological girls – one without fertility treatment and one with it. There was nothing more beautiful than seeing their little heartbeats, knowing God knitted that life in my womb. But, I know even if He didn’t, He will always remain the good. He is good. And, I rejoice that abiding in Him is better than any good thing on this earth – including seeing those little heartbeats.
Now what about little man in the picture? Our foster son. He is our third little guy we were happy to give our family and home to within the foster system. You see, within this infertility season of refining, grieving and “redefining good,” God opened our hearts to fostering. It made no sense to us, but I knew God had placed a desire in our hearts for kids and James 1:27 just hit me with a ton of bricks. So, we obeyed.
If you want a glimpse into fostering this blogpost is a perfect picture of it for many - http://www.ransomforisrael.com/how-adoption-destroyed-my-life/. You constantly live in the tension of “he can but if not, He is still good.” It's learning to love the unlovable. It's learning to love with open hands. It's surrendering repeatedly to His good. It's learning to forgive. It's learning to discern. It's learning how to grieve. It's learning to have active faith. It's learning that as foster parents we have more in common with the saved than the Savior; that we are first desperately in need of a Savior and that we are more like the helpless, than the Helper. It's understanding that we are first grace and mercy receivers before grace and mercy givers. It's understanding that all that we have is from Him, any love we show comes through Him, and the best we can do is to lead others to Him.
Jesus stepped out of Heaven’s glory and came to earth for our brokenness and sin, to die for us on a cross on our behalf so that we can be called children of God - for our redemption. In foster care, you lean into the broken just like Jesus moved toward us because he can always redeem and restore. So much of foster care does not make sense and can make you angry, but so much of it is seeing beauty from ashes. The way God works will never fully make sense to us this side of heaven, but one day Jesus will return and make right all that is wrong.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."
Writing this has been so good for my heart to remember all the good things God has given me in my precious kids, but most importantly the work he has done in my heart. Sanctification is hard stuff, but man it is so good. If you are in a season of suffering, may you see it as a providence of God. May you see Him and know him more deeply and feel His presence so closely as he walks every step of it with you. May He be your fullness of joy and complete satisfaction. As John Piper states, “God seldom calls us for an easier life, but always calls us to know more of Him and drink more deeply of His sustaining grace.” (Philippians 3:10-11, Amplified).
I will leave you with some of the words from Chris Renzema’s song, “God is Love”.
“Because He is good, and He is God
What I earned, it’s not what I got
And he is just, yet also kind
What I deserve, it’s not what I find
What more could I say about Him?
My God is love.”
My God is Love and He is good. His gospel is good news. May we cling to it always.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”