When will I get over being sad? It would be easier to just forget my pain and wait it out than it will be to wrestle with it. Infertility is a dull ache that never leaves a barren woman. There are also reminders of this status everywhere for she who cannot have a child. It's often a matter of survival and perseverance for each day or even hours and minutes. A friend recently said to me, "I had to come to the point when I realized and believed that the outcome was not the most important thing." Neither the pain nor the end of the pain should be the focus. Is that what she meant? I think so. Basically, perseverance to seek God in the face of this struggle with infertility or any other "thorn in the flesh" is what matters most.
I was recently able to visit with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the foundress of the Ruth Institute, who usually spends her time discussing and educating the masses on the controversial issues of life and marriage in our nation. We were chatting with some other ladies about how to educate and reach women seeking discipleship. Among other topics we discussed about family and career life for women, I had mentioned my struggle with the loss of several pregnancies. As we listened to Dr. Morse, she talked about her own struggle with infertility. I was listening as somebody who struggled with that pain and wanted to know how to help others in the same boat. Then came those words that planted a small seed. "I had to come to the point when I realized and believed that the outcome was not the most important thing." Her words rolled off me like an obvious proverb for all of us. Of course, I knew that.
Then the statement appeared in my mind the next day and invariably every day after I heard her say it - "The outcome was not the most important thing." It began to annoy me like a song stuck in my head. Why did I keep hearing that? I do not disagree with that statement now, nor did I when I heard it. In fact, I even feel like it was something I would say myself.
My response to this statement is evolving and securing itself in God's Word. I have made myself think about what that really means. Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as "a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition." As Christians, we should seek not to wrestle with understanding our circumstances but with how they affect our work for the kingdom. How we respond on our Christian journey is more important than getting what we think we want, even something as wonderful as wanting to be a loving parent to a much wanted child. None of us are immune to pain. Furthermore, Paul says that pain makes us more dependent on Christ which allows others to see how great God truly is. Of his own pain, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
My motto in the classroom with my students last year was Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I was focused on helping them to be kind to their friends and to be students of integrity in their work. However, I know that as we grow in our walk with the Lord, the pain and darkness we experience in our fragile world allows us to see the light of God even more clearly as it pierces the blackness. Maybe the point is not our pain but what God shows us is shining from behind the pain. His gracious love is there. It always has been.