“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
“..The time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Whenever I would previously read verses such as the above found in Luke 9:23, I would think more of serving Christ in mission work where I’m going somewhere and doing something big and exciting with God.
I have had some really awesome times in my life serving God through mission work, but what I’ve come to find is that those experiences are more “mountain-top” experiences and not the daily reality of life in the valley. Surely we can serve God and honor Him in every day of our lives, in the little things and the big things. In fact, God says that those who are faithful with a little will be faithful with greater things.
I’ll talk more later about faithful living in the little everyday things, the service that no one but God sees, but today, I want to talk about glorifying God through your struggles with infertility. If your infertility journey has been anything like mine, there are little every day moments that you struggle through and really, really big moments that drain every ounce of strength you have.
I have always tried to live through this experience with infertility with a “mission focus” by choosing to believe that God is allowing these bad things to happen to me only because there is a greater eternal perspective that only He can see and that I will someday come to fully understand. But I’ll be honest, it has been really hard at times to stay focused. I often become distracted by the things of this world and I’ve often allowed my sorrow to be greater than my desire to see God glorified. I’ve allowed my sorrow and suffering to be greater than the suffering and sorrow of those who don’t know Jesus. I’ve allowed my temporary comforts and pleasures to be greater than the joy of seeing a wounded soul come to Christ for redemption and healing.
Even though I am unworthy, God is always calling me back to the gospel. Repent of my former way of doing things and live for Him. It’s the call that every Christian receives.
In July after coming back from vacation, I came back to Christ once again after walking away from him. This verse in Luke 9:23 where Jesus tells anyone who wants to follow him to deny themselves really took on an entire new meaning for me. What does it look like in my life to deny myself?
Of course infertility is not the only area of my life where I can apply this verse. Infertility is however one of the bigger struggles in my life and there are practical steps I can take to apply this verse to faithful living with infertility.
For me personally, denying myself with infertility looks a little like:
- Denying my grief and choosing to rejoice with those who rejoice, even in the midst of my own mourning
- Denying my bitterness and choosing to confess that to God and close friends who can be in prayer for me and support my healing towards peace. Choosing to believe instead of God being against me, that God is for me and He is using my story in a beautiful way that corresponds with his gospel message of redemption.
- Denying my jealousy and choosing to celebrate other’s happiness and celebrate the gift of life from God.
- Denying my pride when someone says something hurtful or puts their foot in their mouth and choosing to forgive and offer them the same grace that I know I don’t deserve for the many times I have said wrong things.
- Denying my first reactions to turn away from God when I’m grieving and instead turn towards Him to “cast my cares upon Him” and trust that He is going to supply all I need to make it through this struggle.
- Denying my unbelief that the only way I can be happy is to have children. Turning to God instead and finding that true joy comes from knowing Him and His great love for me and this world!
- Denying that I am not strong enough to go through something difficult and instead turning to Christ for my strength and trusting that He will carry me through every battle I face.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Our infertility doesn’t have to be a wasted season of our lives where we feel left behind and wonder how anything good could come from this. I feel that, perhaps maybe, this might even be the best season of our lives – the season where our faith shines and God is glorified in big and beautiful ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.
God is giving each of us an invitation to join in His work. We have been given this incredible freedom through what Christ has done for us, yet we are called not to use our freedom for evil desires, but for good. We are called to rise above our pain, sorrow, and grief that this world so often brings and instead live with passionate love for God and for His people that He deeply loves. God wants to show a hurting world His love. We are His hands and feet – how can we not move when He calls us to do so?
A while back, I was watching a show called Parenthood and during one of the episodes I was very moved by the words of one of the fathers on the show. His daughter was deeply hurt by something her cousin had done to her and she was going to avoid going to a special walk for autism in support of her younger brother. She didn’t want to have to deal with the added grief of seeing her cousin who wounded her. Her mother wanted to let her stay in bed and be sad, but her dad challenged her with a beautiful invitation to be strong. I’ll share the speech below and I hope it will encourage you in the same way it did me:
Father: “I know this is hard and I know how hurt you must feel.”
Daughter: “Then why aren’t you on my side?”
Father: “I am on your side. I know that you’re going to roll your eyes, but asking you to do this is being on your side in a bigger way. Haddie, you can’t go through life allowing your pain to dictate how you behave. It’s easy to sit here in your bedroom and wallow in your hurt feelings. It’s hard to rise above it. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about Amber (the cousin). This is about Max (her younger brother with autism). I’m not going to force you to go but I’m asking you to do this for me. What do you say?”
I can just see God giving us the same challenge and the same invitation.
So friends, what do you say?
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy:1:7