Invisible Loss: Understanding the Pain of Infertility

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I originally wrote this in 2017, before we adopted our incredible baby girl in 2019. Since her adoption, the pain of infertility has been greatly soothed with the salve of love and presence and unspeakable joy. The Lord truly has restored “the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). Nevertheless, this post has meaning, and I pray it continues to serve those who read it. If you are struggling with infertility, know you are not alone; you are, to the degree shared experience allows, understood, and you have hope in Christ who will wipe your every tear and swallow up death in life (1 Cor 5:4).

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My wife is infertile. We will be married five years this October, and we’ve been trying the whole time. The causes are complex; they affect more than her fertility; and solving one will not solve the others. The doctors want her to schedule a hysterectomy, because her quality of life is so low, but giving up is not yet an option for us. So, we continue with treatments. If there’s anything we’ve learned on this path, it’s that infertility is hard. In so many ways, it’s hard – emotionally, relationally, physically. Infertility leaves no facet of life untouched. It’s pervasive and defining.

But why is it so hard? That’s a difficult question to answer, and that’s part of the problem. Our inability to answer that question is at the very root of infertility’s relational pain. I wonder if we consider seriously enough the link between the depth of our knowledge of a person and the quality of our love for that person. If I can’t understand you, how well can I really love you? Consider this quote from Francis Schaeffer:

 Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him…The reason we do it is that the one before us is the image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique in the world. This kind of communication is not cheap. To understand and speak to…people is costly. It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressure. Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to the person to whom we are talking. (The God Who Is There, Schaeffer, Francis, p. 120)

That is the kind of love to which God has called his children. 

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Apply the Word: Jesus is God, God Gives Rest

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This past Sunday my pastor preached on John 5 when Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Not surprisingly, Jesus, in doing good, stirs up trouble for himself. First, he heals on the Sabbath, which upsets the Pharisees, who see this as breaking the Sabbath. Second, he asserts that he is God (cf. v 17-18), which also upsets the Pharisees. I want to focus on the first issue, because it is in fulfilling the Sabbath that Jesus demonstrates that he truly is who he claims to be.

When Jesus says in v 17 that he is doing God’s work, he is telling us that doing good on the Sabbath is not breaking the Sabbath but is actually the truest expression of the Sabbath. Rest as relief from the effects of the fall (e.g., sin and sickness) is what the Sabbath is all about. Hence Jesus says, “my Father has been working until now.” Jesus says deliverance from affliction and sin is the work God is doing as an expression of the Sabbath, and, therefore, he is doing the same. Our hope is that Christ will complete this work of redemption, and we will enter into that full and final rest in glory.

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Apply the Word: Faith Is Desperate

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailI don’t like to feel needy. I don’t like it when life squeezes all the comfort and confidence out of me that I’ve come to rely on from day to day. I don’t like pain. My pastor recently preached on John 4, where we are introduced to a desperate man, in a lot of pain, who wasn’t afraid to confess his need.

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Apply the Word: The Shepherd Leads

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailI’ve been remiss in sharing the articles I’m posting on my church’s blog. Here is some application from a sermon on Psalm 23. It’s titled, The Shepherd Leads, and it addresses God’s commitment to lead us all the way down the path of righteousness into his presence, where there is fullness of joy.

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Weaned from False Hope

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailI’m posting again for my church’s Apply the Word series. Below is an excerpt from my post and a link to the full article.

One of the questions that comes up any time we address the need for change is that of “How? How do I get from where I am to where I should be?” This Sunday, Benny (my pastor) preached from Psalm 131 on moving from anxious, harried, and haughty to peaceful and content in Christ.

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God Is in the Midst of Her: Thoughts on Psalm 46

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail“When we face pain and difficulties in life, it can be tempting to feel alone, abandoned to our trouble. Indeed, one of the key elements of fear and anxiety is the feeling that we are facing our threat alone.”

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Understanding Your Control Issues

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I like to control my money. Well, what I mean is, I can be controlling with money. Hmm, I guess what I’m saying is when it comes to money, I have control issues – just ask my wife. I want to be present at every shopping trip and to oversee the selection of every item to ensure we purchase nothing that I deem superfluous or wasteful. I don’t believe in “treats.” I like the bare minimum, and I want her to like it, too. I generally don’t give in to these invasive inclinations, because I also want my wife to be happy – especially with me. But I do instigate conflicts over spending on small things that, to me, represent a bigger problem. Through all of it I drive my (very gracious) wife crazy, as I try not to suffocate her with my spending idiosyncrasies. I have a control problem. Why?

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A Better Reality Part 2: The Gospel for Fantasy Addicts

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailA Better Reality

Imagine someone who so feels they have failed at life that they escape the shame of the real world by immersing themselves in a virtual one (where there is some measure of success, relational pleasure, community, and so on). Imagine how this person’s consciousness of this ongoing neglect of responsibility only compounds the shame and guilt. And then imagine the impact of using insult to try to get him to stop playing his “stupid, childish” games (not an uncommon approach). This is not helpful. This is not the gospel way of applying grace and truth through kindness (Rom. 2:4), and it ignores the need to get to know people well if you are to be helpful to them.

In my last article, I presented a paradigm for understanding fantasy-addiction: the impulse towards pleasure over displeasure is the unifying theme between addicts and non-addicts. The difference is a matter of degree. There is no temptation that is not common to man (1 Cor. 10:13).

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A Better Reality Part 1: Understanding Fantasy-Addiction

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In spite of the recent proliferation of publications on the epidemic of fantasy-addiction in our generation, many of us are still scratching our heads. Perhaps we understand that it’s an issue, but we don’t understand why or how it becomes an issue. If you’ve never seen the appeal of video games, or if you stopped playing them as soon as you were old enough to feel ashamed of being “less mature” than your peers, then you might balk at the notion of spending hours a day glued to a screen.

Sure, you might admit to enjoying the occasional throw-back game of Tetris® here and there, but you could never imagine being so absorbed in a game that you neglect work and family (and even hygiene in some cases!) in order to complete missions, raid dungeons, storm castles, and level up on an endless path to virtual victory. But a large section of our global society not only can imagine it – they do it. My contention is that the key to understanding this growing subculture is found in recognizing they are not as different from the rest of us as we think, and I want to offer a paradigm that might facilitate a deeper understanding of what can be, for many of us, a mysterious issue.

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