There is a verse that is often displayed above nursery doors around the world.
It says, "For this child I prayed" (I Samuel 1:27) As I prepare to celebrate the first birthday of my youngest child on Saturday, I laugh as I think about God's design with my family. You see, I HAD prayed for this child....it was just 15 years ago that I'd
prayed this prayer...when I was much younger, when I was at a point when I thought I was ready to begin a family, raise babies, and do things on my own terms and schedule.
As I walked through years of infertility treatments, I questioned God and His timing day after day. I'd played by the rules, God. I'd done things His way and lived my life for Him and this was the thanks I was getting?! I endured month after month of devastation and kept wondering when God was going to give me the desires of my heart. I walked a lonely road...one filled with heartache and pain all while wearing my ministry game face. To question God's timing or to find myself shaky in my faith would be wrong for a pastor, right? Why would God call me to Children's Ministry and allow me to remain childless?
I was reminded of the Three Hebrew Boys who had walked through fire themselves (Daniel 3). My fire had become my infertility. As the flames grew hotter by the day and the heat more oppressive, I questioned God on deeper levels than ever before. Why must I walk through this fire?
In His goodness, God blessed our family after five years of infertility treatments with the adoption of two precious babies who so completed our family. They are, without
question, directly from the hand of God. I see His work, purpose, and plan all over them.
As we served, ministered, and did the family thing I was shocked to discover on February 14, 2011 that I was pregnant. Here's the unchristian part: I was devastated. Why would God allow this to happen to me now? At my age? Surely this was some sort of joke. Once again, I could feel the heat from the flames and smell the smoke as the flames came ever closer. My "fire" had changed. I was left questioning God's plan and purpose through all of this.
I'd never felt so all alone. People were shocked to learn that I was crushed. It didn't make sense to others that the very thing I'd asked God for, He had given me and I was sad and angry. I became isolated and withdrew from ministry (I had felt God leading me to resign my position of 16 years just the month prior!) and friends.
I walked through this new fire and felt so very alone.
On October 13, 2011 I was delivered (pun intended :) from the fire. Though my definition of fire had changed through the course of the years, I was reminded as I lay staring at this precious new life that I had never been alone. God had been there with me through the flames.
You see, the problem all along was .....It was always about me. "Why couldn't I have a baby?", " Why wasn't it happening when I wanted?" " Why was I pregnant at the age of 38? Why now? Why must I be so sick? "Why must I walk through this fire?"
Hindsight is, of course, an amazing teacher. Looking back, I now see that instead of "Why" or "Why not", I should have been asking "what do you have for me to learn through this, Lord?". As I look back, I can see the Savior was right there with me. He never left my side. When I walk through fire the next time, I want people to watch in
disbelief and say, "wait a minute, who is that that walks with her?" It's only when I am able to walk through adversity with confidence that others will see God at work in my life and praise Him as a result of the fire I walk through.
I'm disappointed in the way I've walked through these "fires". I know that my example was less than ideal for anyone who was watching. That's the great thing about God. He forgives me and my crazy attitudes when I only ask. He is there waiting for me to start again. I love that about Him. He never left my side as I walked through these fiery ordeals. He was with me in the flames. He was waiting to give me the desires of my heart and I grumbled and complained. How I regret those moments. Though my definition of fire has changed, my God never has.
What have you learned as you've walked through fires in your life?
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
"O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain
stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed" (Ps 30:7). It is often difficult to recognize the hand of God when we are in the midst of adversity. We often feel God has hidden His face from us. When the Lord takes us through deep valleys, there will be fruit from the deep valley that we cannot see. You must press into Him with all you have during this time. God uses the deep valley to frame our lives to create a change in our nature, not just a change in habits. The depth and width of our valley is often an indicator of the level of calling and influence we will have on others in the future. Our adversity is not just for us, but others who will be in our future path of influence. This is not very comforting when you are in the middle of the valley, but know this is a truth in the Kingdom. It is often years later when we discover the wisdom of God and why He intentionally led us through the dark valley. Life is often lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back at through valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale and the spiritual deposits He has made in our life while we were there. "He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light" (Job 12:22). When you begin to realize this, you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief because you know that God was in control all
along. It didn't seem like it at the time, but He was. Do you find yourself in the valley? Now is the time to fully trust Him to guide you to higher ground.