Infertility. I was a part of a secret club that no one really wants a membership to. Not just infertility but secondary infertility. We had a child at a very young age and then we felt it was time to add to our family.
Yet, month after month for seven years, I went through the roller coaster of anticipation only to get off the ride at the exit of disappointment.
Each month, I would toss the pregnancy stick into the trash and cry on the bathroom floor. At night, silent tears that ran down my cheeks put me to sleep.
When I would go to baby showers and participate in all the “Oohs” and “Aahs” over every tiny outfit; silently I would pray “Why God? Why not me?”
Of course, when we would visit friends or meet new people, they would smile and joke that it’s time to have more kids, while I smiled back a big fake smile to hide my pain.
Then there were those heart-aching traffic stops. I would be sitting at the light when a minivan filled with toddlers and infants would cruise by and thoughts like, “God why is this so easy for everyone else? I’ve been so faithful, why not me?”
What happens when it seems like God is withholding something from us? What about the most faithful in the Bible: Hannah, Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth? Is it our fault? Are we not faithful enough?
If God Is Faithful, Why Does He Withhold from Us?
We all have that one thing. We tell ourselves, “If only I had that…my life would be complete.” We tell ourselves, if only God would give me a child, I would feel whole.
If only God would be me a more understanding boss.
If only God would give me a husband or a better husband.
If only God would take away this illness.
We are called to walk by faith, not by if only. The good news is this: You’re not alone in feeling this away and here is the truth. God is faithful.
He Is Building Our Faith in Him
When we begin walking with God, we are very much like infants. As we grow, we learn to trust in Him. He wants us to grow in our faith and put Him first. Being faithful to God also means not putting other things above Him.
The Bible calls these idols — anything you worship or give “god-like” status to. Things like work, social position, entertainment, looks, etc. aren’t bad in and of themselves — but can easily become an idol when God doesn’t come first. Is He at the center of all you do? Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
It Is Not Yet Time
God isn’t a magician. He orchestrates all things to work for our good, “according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Things happen in God’s timing. For example, Sarah didn’t have Isaac until she was 90 years old. Had she been any younger, her son Isaac wouldn’t have met Rebecca.
And what about their sons Jacob and Esau? God makes everything happen according to His time, not ours and sometimes that is tough to accept. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says,
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
It is very easy to compare ourselves to others and wonder why something has come through for them, but it has yet to happen for us.
We need to understand that there is a purpose and reason for something not happening or not changing.
God provides us with story after story in the Bible, filled with his truths! Take Hannah for example beginning with her name, her name means “grace, mercy.”
The author of the Book of 1 Samuel doesn’t pull any punches but tells it like it is. Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, had two wives — Peninnah who had already given him children, and Hannah who couldn’t.
No one knows how long Hannah and Elkanah had been trying to have children, but it’s long enough for the author to inform us that years had gone by and Peninnah has successfully borne both sons and daughters.
At one point, Hannah was in the depths of despair because she couldn’t eat or sleep. The conversations that come next in the passage give us a closer glimpse at Hannah’s isolation, grief and faith, and God’s faithfulness.
Her husband asked, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
From this conversation, we see that Hannah felt alone and misunderstood. So, she turned to the Lord. She went to the temple and wept bitterly to Him.
She was honest, real, and raw with the Lord. She pleaded to God to deliver a child because she knew he was the “LORD of hosts.” She knew he was all-powerful.
“O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Yet, we also see in verse 11 that she recognized her place in God’s Kingdom as His servant. And here’s the power of her story, many know that God so loved the world that He gave His firstborn Son. Did you know that Hannah, a woman of faith in the Bible, gave her firstborn son to God?
Before King David was even born, it was Hannah who prayed, “My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation” (compare 1 Samuel 2:1 with Psalm 9:14; Psalm13:5 to see similarities in David’s later prayers).
Take Sarah for example. She lost her faith and even laughed at God when she heard a prophecy about her son’s birth (Genesis 18:12-15).
Keep in mind, Sarah was 90 and yet, God still kept his promise. Isaac’s name actually means “laughter,” a nod to his parents’ disbelief transformed into joy.
Rachel’s story and Elizabeth’s are similar to both Sarah and Hannah. These women were some of the most faithful women of the Bible and yet, God withheld one of His biggest blessings from them, or did He?
What Is the Faithfulness of God?
The word faithful is defined as one who is dependable, trustworthy, and reliable. To be faithful means that we are true to our word at all costs.
To be faithful means that if we have committed ourselves to someone or something, then nothing will keep us from fulfilling that commitment. The scriptures boldly declare God as faithful.
In Corinthians, Paul wrote to the church explaining to them that God would fulfill his promise to them, based simply on the truth that God is a faithful God.
As we read this passage, we learn that being faithful isn’t just something God does — it’s something that God is. See the difference? Faithfulness is a part of God’s being. He acts in faith because he is faithful.
Even When We Are Faithless, He Remains Faithful
God led these mighty women through years and years of barrenness. Even while they were in the desert with their aching hearts, God never failed them.
He was still their God, He was still their savior, He still provided for all their needs, and He nurtured their hearts.
Even when each woman gave up hope, God’s plan for their lives didn’t fade. Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.”
Whether it’s a child, a future spouse, a better marriage, a new job, we tend to forget about all of the things God has given us and focus on the one thing He is withholding.
But here’s what the Bible shows us: When He withholds something from us that we plead for, He is actually giving us something even greater: Himself and His grace to us in Christ.
No matter how much you and I fail God; no matter how you and I may fall short; no matter how much you and I may disappoint Him with our performance — God will never fail us! Why? Because He cannot deny His character.
Even if God is withholding a blessing from you right now, realize you can fully rely on God to sustain you in your weakness. For we can rely on Him to hold us and our hurts. We know He is with us.
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Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.