Why Faith & Infertility Treatment Are Not Mutually Exclusive
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
Along with struggling to claw my way out of the pit of despair during 10 years of infertility, I found myself in need of a titanium shield for protection from well-meaning believers who hinted at my lack of faith. Don't get me wrong. Most of the people in our inner circle were supportive of Mark and my pursuit of treatments: Ovulation-inducing medications like Clomid, IUI (intrauterine insemination), and IVF (in vitro fertilization) with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). It was the general Christian community out there who did not have my back. The articles that waxed poetic about the piety of waiting on God, the sin of taking human action.
I was, of course, familiar with the lingo. I had just never had that particular sentiment aimed at me with the judgmentalism of SNL's church lady. I loved Jesus. I wanted to please God, to follow his plan. The idea that pursuing a pregnancy with my husband somehow made me an unbelieving heathen stung.
It didn't take long, however, for me to discount many of the opinions of my Christian brothers and sisters and seek discernment from God alone. If what I had believed all my life was true - that my relationship with Christ was personal and unique - surely his individualized guidance, through Bible study and prayer, was paramount to what I had read in Christian magazines or heard from mega-church pastors.
In my searching, I came to the conclusion that God was not angry with me or my plans. Like diabetes or heart disease, infertility is a disease whose causes - polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, male factor - often benefit from medical intervention. Oh, I had faith. I also had a set of fallopian tubes that had been ravaged by the poisonous leakage of a burst appendix before I hit my teen years. Since a zygote's compulsory trip through my scarred tubes was likely doomed, treatment made sense.
And during treatment, God did not kick me to the curb like an ill-behaved mutt. Instead, he longed to draw me closer, to be my peace as I experienced the ups and downs of hormones, the grief of negative tests, the losses of tubal pregnancy and miscarriage. Through it all, my father continued to whisper his promises of hope and a beautiful future.
The success of any medical intervention is no less dependent upon the hand of God than on patiently waiting for a miracle. Both require a surrendering of ourselves, an acknowledgement that our human efforts are bound by God's sovereignty.
No more shame. God's wisdom and guidance belong to every believer, whether fresh from an altar call or adorned in pastoral degrees. God has great plans for you. Ultimately you'll need to seek his direction to determine your steps. That, my friend, is called faith, and you've had it all along.