A Record of Lament

I recently wrote the last page of a journal that I keep for my devotional times. That particular journal began by documenting my struggles to put jealousy to death before the baby shower of a close friend. That friend is now expecting her second child. That journal’s last entry recorded my sadness on getting the negative results from our second and most recent IVF. One small notebook, full of all the heartache of infertility and one woman’s fight for faith in the midst of deferred hope…

I began a new journal by reading and meditating on a passage that has meant much to me over the past couple of years – Lamentations 3. There are some very familiar words of hope in that passage, words of new mercies, unceasing love, great faithfulness. But the wonder of those words, and what many Christians miss, is the context from which they emerge. These affirmations of God’s love arise out of anguished accusations that God has afflicted the writer to the point of desolation.

“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light. … He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked. …my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’ Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.”

Those despondent cries set off an echo deep in my soul. I believe that God is absolutely sovereign, that nothing happens apart from what he specifically orchestrates. I have seen affliction, and as far as I can tell I will go on seeing affliction for a while yet – and that affliction is directly from the hand of the Lord. He has driven me into the darkness of infertility, and he has removed immediate (though not ultimate) hope from my circumstances. For now, he has shut off every means of escape from barrenness. He has blocked off the option of natural conception, he has dead-ended the road of IUIs, and he has turned aside the path of IVF. He has locked me up with childless chains that weigh heavy indeed. I have called and called for help, but he has not sent a rescue from this heartbreaking situation.

“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”

Infertility comes from God’s hand just as surely as pregnancy and children do. Strange as it may seem, I find comfort in God’s sovereignty over my suffering. If infertility falls on me as a matter of chance, or from a force of evil that God cannot bend, what hope do I have? But if this ill wind blows directly from the Lord, then it can do me no eternal harm. At times I may feel forgotten by God, and I may wonder if he remembers how I hurt, but I have a lasting assurance that the one who saved me from my sin will deliver me from evil.

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”

God has caused this pain in my life, but he afflicts me with a Fatherly tenderness. In his perfect wisdom and love, he knows that this suffering is the only way to accomplish his good purposes. My deepest heartache is under the sovereign sway of a good God, a God who gave his only Son up for me. The Lord may end my infertility in a few months or a few years; he may not end my infertility until my deathbed. Either way, infertility is only temporary. God’s steadfast love, secured to me by the cross, is forever. He bestows it on me abundantly now – when I sometimes only reach out for it blindly – and eternally – when I will see his love with utmost clarity.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Even as I record laments over my unfulfilled desire for children, I anticipate filling up the pages of a new journal with deeper understanding of God’s fresh mercies and steadfast love. Great is his faithfulness, indeed.

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9 Comments

Filed under meditation

9 responses to “A Record of Lament

  1. Amy

    Andrea, I am again touched and so encouraged by your words of wisdom and heart for God. It sounds trite, but my heart is thankful for you, and overwhelmed by what God is doing in you. You truly are a beautiful daughter of our Father.

  2. Mrs. Mom

    Your example of faith is such a challenge to my heart — it stirs me up to trust in God in my own trying circumstances. I continue to be amazed at the grace of God displayed in you as you walk through this valley. Thank you for sharing so openly with others that others might be helped by your journey!

  3. Michele

    Thank you, friend, for your faithfulness to recount God’s steadfast love. Your honesty, humility, and faith set an example for all who will watch. I am challenged.

  4. Reproductive Jeans

    Thank you so so so much for sharing these devotions and strong faith messages..they have been a comfort to me over the past week, and I am humbled by your faith….thank you!

  5. Katie

    Andrea, your meditation on God’s word is so helpful. Have you ever thought of writing a book of sorts with meditations from God’s word on suffering? Every post that you have where you explain the scriptures and apply it to your own heart is extremely biblical, thoughtful, and encouraging. Anyway…just a thought. Grateful for your life of faith.

  6. Glenna Marshall

    This post was such a comfort and an encouragement to me!

  7. In Search of Morning Sickness

    You know, I’ve often read this passage in Lamentations, but haven’t paid the same amount of attention to all the affliction Jeremiah talks about Before he actually talks about God’s steadfast love and compassion. This was a really sobering reminder to go back and meditate on the truths of the book. Thank you!

  8. Ohmay

    Thank you so much. You’ve put into words a lot of my own feelings of hurt and desolation and abandonment and also drawn my attention back to the scriptures for hope.
    Thank you

  9. Anonymous

    “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” My dear, you are blessed, having discovered hope and beauty (Jesus Himself) right in the middle of your grief by choosing to believe what God says about Himself. Your readers are blessed by your eloquent, poignant words of Truth. And I’m blessed because I clicked on the link of your blog from amy m’s website!
    amy’s mom

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