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A Promise, A Blessing, or Neither?

A Promise, A Blessing, or Neither?

It has been haunting me, the question:

“If I could get it wrong, after so much effort and time and energy and care, how can I ever hear His voice in my life?”

And, then:

“If I can’t hear His voice, how can I make it?”

Living Without My Oxygen

Hearing God’s voice was what kept me alive after Dominic’s death. It was like the oxygen that allowed me to breathe in the acrid choking inferno of despair that surrounded me. But this time, I have felt like my oxygen has been ripped away. Believing I had a promise from Him that we would have more children, and that this pregnancy was the fulfillment of that promise – and then being WRONG – has rocked my spiritual world. The one thing that got me through – being able to hear His voice – I’m now not sure I can trust. I read scripture, His word, but struggle with confidence in what He might be saying to me – especially if it relates to hope in having more children.

It has been lonely, sad, and incredibly confusing.

I am doing the only thing I know to do – keep trying. I have gone before Him, praying for discernment and insight and guidance. I have battered heaven’s door, reminding Him of my sincere desire to hear Him and know Him and feel Him and accurately proclaim Him – even if I don’t get what I want. I have searched, scoured scripture for information and wisdom and help for where I went wrong.

Every step I have taken is with trepidation. I fear being wrong, again. I fear getting more confirmation that the oxygen I thought I had keeping me alive has run out, because I can’t figure out how to turn the valve on. I fear being alone in this world full of suffering and death without being able to accurately hear Him or feel His hand guiding me.

But He is my Lord. And I have no other choice but to keep searching, because I cannot live without Him.

When God Gave Other People Promises

I spent hours, right after the miscarriage, searching the Word for examples of God giving promises to individual people, to see if that would provide some insight as to where I went wrong, and what He wants from me now with all of this. From Abraham to Moses to Joshua to David to Zechariah and Elizabeth to Mary, I pounded the pavement of scripture to try and open some doors on God’s promises…hoping to shed some light somewhere. I have found some themes that emerged, whenever God gave a promise to an individual:

 

  1. God spoke directly and specifically to each person when he gave a promise. Like “go to this specific city at this specific time” or “in a year’s time you will give birth to a son”. And each time God spoke, the individual knew it was Him speaking to them.
  2. When God gave a promise, it came with a responsibility to the person receiving it. The promise to him/her was not simply a free gift, but involved an obligation or assignment that was part of the larger work He was seeking to accomplish.
  3. There was generally a period of time that elapsed between when the individual was told about the promise and when it was fulfilled.
  4. The individuals usually doubted the promise along the way, often taking matters into their own hands to bring about its fulfillment on their own.
  5. God usually reiterated the promise more than once (often over and over again), reconfirming what He had said and that He would, in fact, fulfill it.
  6. There was much struggle and difficulty before the promise was realized…the path to fulfillment was never easy, and always involved sacrifice on the part of the recipient.
  7. The promise always required faith, and usually God tested that faith before the promise was fulfilled.

I say this with tremendous trepidation, with heart wavering and soul trembling: I think He has given me some insight into where I went wrong. And that I may not be as wrong as it first appeared.

It is unbearably difficult to write these words, and I cannot stand with authority on anything I’m saying, here. In fact, I had this written weeks ago, but didn’t publish it. But I promised the Lord I would put this journey, and my experience of it, out there, right or wrong. The best I can do is reach, grasping, fumbling, for the truth, knowing how blind I am. Doubt covers me like a blanket, and I feel like one trying desperately to move toward some dim, opaque light in spite of being enveloped by the shroud.

But moving toward one’s impression of the light is better than sitting alone, forever, in the darkness.

Promise Vs. Blessing

So this is what He seems to have revealed to me (HAS He revealed it?):

I thought the Lord gave me a promise for more children, and that this baby was the fulfillment of that promise – His gift of grace to me. But here’s the problem: I never see in scripture where the Lord comes to give a promise to someone as simply a gift to them, with no expectation from them, or without it being part of a larger plan.

Each time the Lord gave an individual a promise, the promise WAS a gift, but it was a gift that required SACRIFICE, and the gift was always a piece of bigger, more overarching work that God was accomplishing. So the promise entailed both gift and sacrifice, usually unfolding over time – and all of it was because God had a purpose that was larger than the individual involved in the promise.

I may be wrong, again. But this seems to give me at least a bit of clarity, and I will take any clarity I can get.

I think the issue is this: If I am correct, and if I am hearing Him correctly (both big ‘ifs’), God did give me a promise. I misinterpreted it, however, as a BLESSING.

I am learning, there is a big difference between those two. A blessing is simply a gift, with no obligation – simply God’s grace, the Almighty’s unmerited favor, without any strings attached. Although I said God had given me a promise, in reality what I was expecting was a blessing. If this is true, and He has, in fact, given me a PROMISE rather than a blessing – and that promise involves time, faith, and sacrifice before it comes to fruition.

[Insert snarky prayer here about how I’m almost 40 years old, and, well, Lord, how much time, exactly, can there be??]

I may likely, again, be completely off base, but IF what I feel like He’s shown me is correct: God gave me a promise for more children, but that is not simply a gift to me, as I thought. It is, but there is a larger purpose at work of which me having children is a part. And that larger purpose requires sacrifice on my part, and will take time to completely be fulfilled. The reason God gave me the promise was not simply that He loves me and wants me to get what I want (although there is that, too), but that He is accomplishing something bigger than us through the child loss and gain of our family. Yes, He gave me the promise, but it is not going to be an easy or simple road to getting the gift of the promise, because there is more at stake here than simply me. Every time the Lord gave someone a promise in the Bible (that I’ve seen so far), they had to sacrifice something. A lot, usually. It was worth it, in the end, but it was not fun at the time.

The Miscarriage Fits In How?

So where does this miscarriage fit in to all of this?

I don’t know, exactly. But, tentatively, I think He is showing me this: Simply receiving a healthy baby, in this pregnancy, wouldn’t have required any specific obligation or assignment on my part, no particular sacrifice. But promises always involve sacrifice. If what I am hearing is right, He is showing me that with this promise, I will receive the gift, eventually, but not without personal difficulty and sacrifice – something necessary for His full plan to come to fruition. That would answer another question that has plagued me throughout all of this –

Why did He ask me to post all of these articles? Articles that extolled my trust in a promise that wasn’t to be?

Because, in spite of my difficulty in hearing Him correctly through this whole debacle, I have NO doubt that He told me to post those articles. How do I know? Because, unlike His Words to me about having more children, I DIDN’T want to do it. In fact, I fought it. I delayed posting them for about two weeks, hoping for some definitive physical proof before putting myself out there – in order to avoid, well, precisely what happened. I only eventually obeyed because He kept it heavy on my heart and I felt seriously convicted to do so. There was absolutely no personal gain for me, whatsoever, in posting those articles before I knew what was going on, and I had everything to lose. That, combined with His conviction and burden that is typical of the way He always speaks to me, leaves me with no doubt that on THAT part, I heard Him correctly.

So why did He tell me to post them, only to have things turn out exactly the opposite of what I believed?

I still don’t know the answer to that, but I believe that this new insight – the idea that He has, in fact, given me a promise, with all of its responsibilities, but I misinterpreted it as a blessing – helps to explain the article posting conviction, as well. It would be consistent with why He told me to post all these articles…this promise of babies for us does not simply involve us. God is doing something bigger, something greater, that is beyond us.

It may be that, as part of the promise, He is testing my faith. And that He has a larger plan with this promise than simply me having more children – that He wants to do something grander, something bigger than I can see, that involves people other than simply our family. I don’t know what that might be, but this new insight makes it possible that His insistence on me writing those articles serves a larger purpose that is yet to be fulfilled through all of this – a purpose that can only be realized by people seeing this rocky road that I’m on.

Maybe the magnitude of what He is doing cannot be realized, His power cannot fully be shown, without others being privy to my doubt, fears, and disgrace.

Wishing I had a freaking blessing, now.

Work Out Your Salvation

I fully recognize how convenient this all sounds. And it may very well be just that – yet another rationalization I am making to try and keep the dream of more children alive. Even write this, after where I’ve been, after how wrong I’ve gotten it all, I feel that I am, as Paul says, “a fool for Christ.”

Or, maybe I’m just a fool.

But then there was a specific event, the morning after the Lord gave me these insights, that seemed to reinforce the idea that God is doing something with this that is bigger than just our family. That day I saw a friend who pulled me aside and told me something very specific she was struggling with in her life – something significant and all-consuming. And she said that seeing me “making it” helped her make a big-time, life-altering, positive choice that day…and gave her the strength to keep going. A choice that would change the course of her life and the life of her family. I was awed. And humbled. And couldn’t believe that He could manage to encourage someone through my spiritual deafness and apparent idiocy.

But He did. And, ironically, that encouraged me! And that tells me that He is still in this. Somehow. I think He is doing something bigger than I can see.

Or maybe He is just humbling me.

I don’t know anything for sure, anymore, when it comes to the issue of having more children. This is all just too big for me – too beyond me. This whole journey has taken all of me; more of me than I have to give. I am exhausted and fearful and doubtful and don’t even know why I continue doing this to myself. Maybe I’m off the rails, again, and none of this is right. I don’t think I will ever truly trust myself in hearing Him about this issue, now, but…

I will always, always keep trying to understand Him. And, in spite of myself, I continue hoping and trusting – not just that He will give us more children, but that whatever He is doing, it will be precisely the perfect thing for us. Whether it is a promise, a blessing, or neither – what matters more than whether I get more children is whether I am faithful to Him, and that I keep searching for Him with all my heart. I am self-centered, and I want more children. But if the answer is no, I will accept that, too, and trust that He will use the pain from that answer to transform me into what He wants me to be.

Do I have a promise? Or do I not?

Time will bear out which one it is.

For now, all I can do, all I know to do, is pray these words from Psalm 119:

“My life is down in the dust, give me life through your word…I am weary from grief; strengthen me through your word. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set your ordinances before me. I cling to your decrees; Lord do not put me to shame. I pursue the way of your commands, for you broaden my understanding. ..Confirm what you said to your servant, for it produces reverence for you. Remember your word to your servant; you have given me hope through it. This is my comfort in my affliction; your promise has given me life…I have sought your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise…I long for your salvation; I put my hope in your word. My eyes grow weary looking for what you have promised. I ask, “When will you comfort me? How many days must your servant wait?”… If your instruction has been my delight, I would have died in my affliction….I am severely afflicted; Lord give me life through Your word….Sustain me as you promised and I will live; do not let me be ashamed of my hope…Consider my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your instruction. Defend my cause and redeem me; give me life as you promised.”

What a journey this is. Paul says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?

I’ve got the fear and trembling down really, really well. Now, Lord, please…

if I could just get the “salvation worked out” part.

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