My husband and I walked the long, empty hallway of infertility for nearly 10 years in our marriage. During those years, I caught a lot of different commentary on our situation. If I only had more faith, if I only relinquished control, or if I only confessed sin in my life… all of it. However, most frequently, I heard the “you need to have faith” advice.
More than anything, I wanted to be a pleasing daughter to my Father in heaven, and Scripture makes it plain that faith is most pleasing to Him.
So, was my empty cradle a reflection of empty faith? Was my faith lacking somehow? What exactly did it mean to the Lord for me to have faith? I wrestled with those questions for many years.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, NASB).
The Assurance of Things Hoped For
Most of us can quote the above passage, chapter, and verse, but lingering in my mind was the question: Assurance of what things hoped for? And the conviction of which things I haven’t seen? I have yet to see a great many things, and I’ve hoped for a lot as well; but what were the right things to have as the object of my faith?
Many of my hopes would, in truth, not be compatible with the life God has blessed me with, so He has pruned out some of those desires, but some linger still and I know that setting my hope on the wrong things would be unworthy of the kind of pure faith God wants to grow in His children. So, what exactly is meant to be the aim of faith?
After pondering these questions, and living for some time under the false guilt that my childless state was evidence of my faithlessness, I came to the conviction that Scripture does not urge God’s children to set their faith or hope on anything less than the person and character of God, Himself.
In fact, one could even argue that to set your expectation on anything other than God’s character would be to make an idol out of it and take God off the throne of our hearts.
So, if I was supposed to “have faith” in regard to our barrenness, then a faith-filled perspective said, “I know my Lord and I know He is good and promises to work out this heartache for my good and His glory. I can’t see how right now, but I trust Him.”
Faith didn’t say, “I know I’m going to have a baby! This time next year, I’m going to be holding a baby in my arms!”
As the years rolled on and as I pressed into God’s character, I did see Him bring good out of it. I still ached for a child. I learned to smile when people told me to have faith, and I told them what I told you — that I knew God was good and had good to come from this. But I didn’t know we’d have a baby. In fact, I let that hope fade.
Then we got a surprise! Out of the blue, in the middle of grieving the loss of my very dear grandmother and moving — again — I was shockingly pregnant. I don’t think I fully exhaled that whole pregnancy. I tried so hard to hold it all loosely— to let God have His way with whatever He was doing with us. Our son was born, and he is our little miracle!
But my faith would only be safe if it was set on God, not on an outcome or a goal.
Two years rolled by and we got another surprise. We were filled with such joyful expectation. I think this time around our joy came bubbling out more readily because we’d gotten through the treacherous waters of pregnancy before, and this time we just burst at the seams! Our family was growing — miraculously — again!
Near the end of the first trimester, days before I sent out the announcements, we saw our little one, lifeless on a sonogram. I knew it the second I saw the image. It wasn’t right. No heartbeat. We prayed and begged God for it to be a mistake. But it wasn’t. The miscarriage took our prayers and much of my health for years as I wrestled with extreme complications.
Conviction of Things Not Seen
In this life, we pray for certain outcomes. We hope to see the unfolding of God’s plan in certain ways. But my hope and faith were again purified in the furnace. No, I would not hold that little one. No, I would not have my health back to play with the precious one in front of me. But, yes, God would hold me in His grace.
God was good and would somehow work good out of this. God would comfort my heart. My faith in Him would rest… sometimes my faith in Him would wrestle more than rest, but it would be with Him, His character, His promises, and not set on the lesser ground of my temporal wishes.
We can safely and expectantly set our faith on the promise of God being:
- A shield (Genesis 15:1); The One who Sees (Genesis 16:13); Provider (Genesis 22:14); The One who is (Exodus 3).
- The One who Heals (Exodus 15:26); The One who makes holy (Leviticus 20:8); Peace (Judges 6:24); Shepherd (Psalm 23).
- The One who quiets you with His love and sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17 *favorite verse of mine); With Us (Mathew 11:23); Miracle worker (John 2); Bread of Life (John 6:35).
- Living Water (John 7:37); Light of the World (John 9); Forgiver (John 8:11); The Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6).
- The Vine (sustainer of life) (John 15:5); Overcomer (John 16:33); The beginning and finish of all things (Revelation 1:8).
And so much more.
Isn’t that more than enough territory for our faith to encompass? And yet we are so often tempted to set our faith on small matters or temporary outcomes. When circumstances disappoint you, may the Lord grace your faith to grow deep roots into the character of Christ.
Photo Credit: © iStock/Getty Images Plus/ipopba
April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here.