Holed up in my cousin's upstairs bathroom during a family Christmas party, I railed at God. "Why are you doing this to me?" I sobbed. Another year of celebration dampened by empty arms. Hadn't I been faithful? Hadn't I trusted his plan enough?
With all the uncertainty of infertility, this question plagued me the most: Is God causing my infertility? And what magic words could I fling to the heavens to get him back on my side?
Unfortunately, this way of thinking adds insult to injury. Our unspoken beliefs about God's injustice - his abandonment - cause us to distance ourselves from the comfort we need the most.
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So, let's attack the question head on: Does God cause infertility?
In a word, no. Like cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and multiple sclerosis, infertility an be linked to a world out of sync thanks to that age old battle between light and darkness. The concept of good and evil may seem old-fashioned to us 2017 westernized intellectuals (a little too Lord of the Rings or Darth versus Luke), yet I dare you to turn on the evening news and deny that there is indeed a battle taking place.
Perhaps the more difficult truth for the believer, then, becomes not the question of good and evil, but of God's sovereignty over it. If God is in control, why doesn't he give me the baby I've prayed for?
This is the part of the story where many would wrap up your pain in a neat little ribboned package and say, "God is good. Just trust." Translation: Your pain is making me uncomfortable and causing me to question some things myself, so just shut up already.
You've trusted. You've prayed. Your empty arms and aching heart have plunged you to the depths of sorrow. You've run out of words.
The truth is, there are things we won't understand this side of heaven.
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It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Job 34:12
Have you read Job? A boatload of suffering in under forty pages, the book of Job chronicles a righteous man's life when God and Satan go head to head. Job was a guy who feared God and shunned evil...and lost everything anyway. His oxen, camels, and donkeys? Carried off by looters. His servants? Murdered. His sheep? Reduced to ashes by fire raining from the sky. His ten sons and daughters? Killed when the house they were feasting in collapsed in a desert windstorm.
And after this, what did Job do? He said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
In all this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:21-22)
But wait, there's more.
Job then develops painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. When his friends see him, they hardly recognize him and sit on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights, speechless.
Job wishes he had never been born.
"Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil." (Job 3:23-26)
Job starts to question God.
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Oh yes, then his oh-so-helpful friends speak (giving new meaning to the old adage "Silence is golden").
Friend #1 tells Job to acknowledge his sin, so God can heal and deliver him.
Friend #2 says Job's children got what they deserved because of Job's sin.
Friend #3 calls Job an idiot for even trying to understand God's ways.
Friend #4 steps up to offer superior logic proving Job's sinfulness.
Some friends, huh?
Eventually, all this suffering and jaw flapping wears Job out and he puts God on trial for his troubles. This is when God finally answers Job. Rather than a nice warm hug, God offers a verbal smack up side the head to remind Job of the truth. And what does he say? Among other things, found in Job 38-40 from the Message Bible...
Why do you talk without knowing what you're talking about?
Where were you when I created the earth?
Who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
Have you ever ordered Morning, 'Get up!" told Dawn, 'Get to work?"
Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?
Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives?
Was it through your know how that the hawk learned to fly, soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?
Do you presume to tell me what I'm doing wrong? Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
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I love the way Michael Fox puts it in Job 38 and God's Rhetoric. He explains, "God is not quizzing Job. Rather, God is saying to Job, "You know very well that I and I alone created order and maintain it in the world, and I know that you know and you know that I know you know."
God also has some words for Job's windbag friends in chapter 42, saying, "I've had it with you and your two friends. I'm fed up! You haven't been honest either with me or about me - not the way my friend Job has."
Despite Job's bold questioning of God and God's sharp retort, he appears to appreciate Job's forthright wrestling with himself instead of his friends spouting falsehoods about Job's sin being the cause of his suffering.
In the end, Job worships God, recognizing his sovereignty and wisdom.
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand -- from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry -- forgive me!
And God blessed Job's later life even more than his earlier life. Not only were his livestock restored, he lived to raise ten more children and four generations of grandchildren, dying at 140 years old!
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I've spent a lot of time babbling in my suffering, especially in ten years of infertility, questioning God's plan and even his wisdom. I believe he welcomes our questions and our pain. He even joins us in it. After all, his plan for our redemption involved allowing unimaginable suffering for his only son. But my ultimate peace has come when I've stopped my jabbering to rest in God's plan for my life. To bask in the knowledge that the one who perfectly formed the universe and ordered everything in it will certainly make no mistakes in ordering my days.
Hundreds of philosophers and theologians have weighed in on the meaning of the book of Job. For me, those forty-two chapters boil down to this: God's love is sometimes tough, but he knows what he's doing.
God doesn't cause our suffering, but yes, he allows it. And when we trust his unfathomable love, wisdom, and perfect justice, we realize - as Job did - that there's no way we can lose.
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