1 year and 8 months after going off of birth control, and after 3 months of fertility treatments, God has finally chosen to bless my womb with life! It has been a rollercoaster of emotion as we struggled through infertility, unbeknownst to almost everyone around us.
My husband, ever the talented wordsmith, wrote the following entry this morning at his blog, and I cannot say it any better so I am copying his entry here. Praise the Lord for such an incredible, Godly husband!
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD (Psalms 127:3-128:4).
Psalms 127 and 128 are the finest specimen of the Bible’s view of children. Here they are spoken of as a heritage, a reward, as a warrior’s arrows, and as shoots of that most valuable of near-eastern plants, the olive tree. Though times have changed and a combination of the Industrial Revolution and hormonal contraceptives have turned children from a valuable resource to a financial liability, the counter-cultural, counter-human stance of the Bible remains as distinct as ever. In the nations that surrounded ancient Israel, children were just as likely to be laid down on the altar for sacrifice as being tucked into bed for the night (cf. Lev 18:21; Deut 12:31).
However, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is different. He is the God who rescues children from the altar and provides a perfect substitute (Gen 22). He is the God who commanded our forefathers to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28; 9:1). He rejoices in that furtherance of his creative act, which we call procreation. “The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,” and “he gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children” (Ps 29:9; 113:9).
That last statement is particularly true of the LORD. He makes the barren woman a joyous mother of children. I would venture to say that this is God’s favorite miracle to perform. I base that statement on the number of times God opens the womb of barren women: Sarah (Gen 16:1), Rebekah (Gen 25:21), Rachel (Gen 30:1), the wife of Manoah (Judg 13), Ruth (although the book of Ruth nowhere states explicitly that she was barren, it implies it since she was married for about ten years before moving to Bethlehem and had no children.), Hannah (1 Sam 1), and Elizabeth (Luke 1:25). Certainly, the children of these women played important roles in salvation history and part of God’s work in their lives was to show that only he could keep his covenant promises by providing deliverers for God’s people. However, we cannot discount the pleasure that God has in taking women from the deepest of life’s sorrows, infertility, to the height of life’s joys, the delivery of a newborn child, especially since in their cases that joy was in the miraculous provision of God himself.
A little over a year ago, Stacy and I realized that we were battling with infertility. Our wait was mere moments compared to the wait of Sarah who finally bore Isaac at age ninety, and, certainly, our wait was short compared to the many people we know who have been trying for years. So, I will not pretend to have suffered before such a great cloud of witnesses who have known sorrow more intense than I can imagine, but for the benefit of those who have never known barrenness, I would like to briefly share the main thing I have learned.
Sensitivity is especially important for those of us who would be ministers of the gospel. Thoughtless comments turn into piercing daggers too easily. Before I understood infertility, I asked and joked with my newlywed friends about having babies. I have found that it is best not to ask people when they are going to have children because for those who fight infertility those words come off as a stinging reminder that they may never have biological children, and that unrevealing answer at your jest can quickly turn into tears as the couple slips into the car and drives away. The preacher, also, must carefully evaluate before using illustrations about pregnancy and birth because of the way it will affect the undoubtedly high number of couples in his congregation that cannot seem to get pregnant.
Admittedly, for quite some time the sorrow of infertility was a burden that my wife carried alone. For many months, even though I held her as she cried, I did not and could not understand her sorrow. We both prayed that God would bring us together emotionally either by making her satisfied for a time without children or by making me desire a child in the same way she did.
At the beginning of May, God changed the desires of my heart, and I began following Isaac’s example. “Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah conceived (Gen 25:21).” A friend told me that after three years of infertility, he began praying like Hannah did, committing the child to God’s service (1 Sam 1:11). So, I began praying in that manner as well, saying, “Father, if you will open the womb of my wife and give us a child, then I will train the child in your ways and will not hold him or her back from going to the ends of the earth for the sake of the name of Jesus.” I did this not believing that it was a trick that would force God to give in, but honestly and sincerely making known my desires to my heavenly Father, the same Father who had given me my desires.
And the LORD granted my prayer, and Stacy conceived.
We are expecting a baby around February 7. Still, we live by faith since we are unable to know or really do anything about the happenings within the womb of my wife, but I tell you our story in order to boast in the LORD, the God of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Stacy. He is good, and he has blessed us with undeserved kindness. I thank God for my fruitful vine, and I praise him for the olive shoot that he has planted in my home!
I would also like to share a paper that we wrote in 2006 when we first realized the dangers of hormonal birth control and the “birth control culture” that we live in. You can read the paper online here. Feel free to print and/or share it as long as you give proper credit to the authors (and if you enjoy it or share it I would love to hear about it). It is our prayer that our words may open others’ eyes just as doing the research opened ours.