Monday, September 30, 2013

God and (Secondary) Infertility


Not again. Please, not again.

These were my thoughts last month when my wife informed me her cycle had started, again.

Normal, At First (and Two Qualifications)
January 28, 2010, was one of the happiest days of my life. After 40-plus hours of labor (and an impromptu cesarean section), my wife and I met our daughter. What an incredible experience.

At that point, everything seemed normal. I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child as we prepared to leave for a short first-year-of-marriage anniversary trip. In fact, it still felt normal after we began trying for a second pregnancy. It’s not an anomaly for couples to try for several months before conception. However, after about 30 months with no success the questions begin:

What now?

Where’s God in this?

Is he in this?

Is God good despite our “suffering?”

Before moving forward, it’s important to qualify two points: our first child and suffering. My wife and I are blessed beyond measure with our first child – she is a delightful gift from God. Still, some might read this and feel frustrated that I’m “complaining” about not being able to conceive a second child while you are still struggling with initial conception. Maybe you’re thinking that I’m greedy or unappreciative. At times, you might be right. Even so, although our stories are different, it is my desire to empathize as best I can with anyone struggling with fertility (my story just happens to be about secondary infertility). Some might also be frustrated with my use of the term “suffering.” In our current contexts, we often consider “suffering” as those starving for food, in desperate need of clean water, living in war-torn countries, or losing their lives for the cause of Christ. However, if suffering means the bearing of pain or distress, then this term also works for my situation. My wife and I have borne the pain and distress of secondary infertility. It’s not equivalent to the former examples, but it is still “suffering.”

Early Groundwork
I sat across the table from a spiritual mentor of sorts about eight years ago after experiencing the tragic death of someone close to me. My hope was that this person’s death would cause a “ripple effect” for the Kingdom. In fact, I insisted that it must. With great patience and wisdom, this mentor pointedly asked, “If there are no professions of faith that are a direct effect from this death, is God still good?”

This question knocked me to the floor both emotionally and spiritually. My hope (and insistence) for the last few months was that God would surely bring people to faith through this story. Over the next few months I wrestled with this question, eventually coming to the conclusion that God is still good even if no professions of faith are made as a direct effect of this death. But now the question needs to be reformatted: Is God still good if he doesn’t allow my wife to get pregnant again?

Where Are You?!
My wife and I have asked many questions over the last 30 months. Our theology becomes practical in these moments. What do we actually believe about God? Are we able to extricate our theology from the coffee shop to the real world?

It hasn’t been easy.

Romans 8:28 has become somewhat of a stumbling block for us. And yet, if the Bible is true in all it affirms, then it must also be true here; namely, our secondary infertility is being worked out for our good. If the goodness of God is his kindness and benevolence, his holy pleasure in the happiness of his people, then embracing this truth is rejoicing in that goodness, rather than sulking in suffering. This is accomplished by basking in the glory of God’s ubiquitous sovereignty. He is sovereign over the tiniest atom and the largest supernova (1 Sam 2:6-7; Ps 103:19; 135:6-7; Matt 5:45; 6:25-30; Rom 8:28; Gal 1:15-16; Eph 1:11). All is his; all is under his control (1 Chr 29:11).

Including conception.

So where is God? To be sure, he’s in the smallest detail of our lack of conception. He’s in our pain; King over our questions; Lord over our frustrations.

Now What?
Despite our inability to understand what God is doing with us through secondary infertility, we must trust him, for he is good.

Even if we never conceive again.

Perhaps the way forward for my wife and I is to focus on the daily mercies God bestows upon us (Ps 100:5; 145:9). Each time my lungs fill with air; each beat of my heart; each moment I don’t drop dead is a demonstration of the goodness and mercy of God.

“[T]hough he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love…Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”

Rest in this truth (Lam 3:32, 38).

Monday, April 29, 2013

Moving Day

Writing is therapeutic; a creative-outlet. Almost two years have passed since I began blogging at Post Tenebras Lux. It’s provided an avenue to think out loud and in community about pretty much anything and everything, but mainly about biblical and theological studies. I’m grateful for this opportunity. I’m grateful for those who’ve participated with me.

I haven’t blogged much recently. In part, my time was needed for other things, which did not allow for concerted time to think and write. In part, I had writer’s block – even though there were myriad issues to think and write on, I just wasn’t able to put words on the screen. In part, I was concerned for my own soul, namely that I was blogging for my own self-aggrandizement. I’m often convinced my hiatus was due to the latter…

With that said, I’ve decided to move my blog.

Not to Patheos or The Gospel Coalition; to something better.

My blog is moving to my church’s website!

The other elders of Redeemer Community Church have agreed to give me a platform to minister to our church family (and, perhaps, a few from outside our church) through writing. I’m excited about this opportunity because my desire is to be connected to the local church. My iPod houses an interview with N. T. Wright, wherein he discusses his early life in ministry and scholarship. He mentions that someone once told him he would have to choose between ministry and scholarship – one or the other. You can’t have both…

Of course Wright considered that rubbish and has gone on to be both a minster and scholar. I hope to follow, albeit minimally, in his footsteps. That is, regardless of where my academic pursuits lead, I want to remain connected to the local church; to bring scholarship to the pastorate; to think pastorally about scholarship.

So, as best I can, I’m going to try and think scholarly and write pastorally. In addition to my own thoughts, I will also try to continue gathering helpful resources (e.g., blogs, articles, book reviews, etc.) and inform you of them via my bi-weekly Take a Moment…

I hope this ministry has blessed you.

It has blessed me.

Pressing on…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Lament to God

O God, I search for you and I find you not.

My soul despairs; my thoughts are ever against me.

Do you not hear me? Are you not there?

Show me your face, O Lord; my soul longs for your peace.

My God, comfort my pains; defeat the foes of darkness.

O Lord God, find me in this barren place.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Headed to Milwaukee

I’m heading to Milwaukee on Tuesday for the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

It should be a good opportunity to spend time with friends I don’t often see, perhaps network a bit, and sit in on a few papers (and hopefully be intelligent enough to engage the presenters).

I’m really pumped about the following papers:
  • God and the Mind/Body Problem: A Critique of Selected Christian Physicalists
  • The Atonement as Vicarious Victory: Understanding the Warfare-Oriented Relationship between Penal Substitution and Christus Victor
  • The Logical Euthyphro: Laying Out the Options for God and Logic
  • Truth - Who Needs It?
  • Way Outside the Box: Why Paul's Doctrine of Justification Was Risky, Offensive, and Unparalleled in Early Judaism
  • Adam's Duty: Evolution and Human Responsibility
  • Can't We All Just Get Along? Friendly Atheism and the Epistemology of Religious Disagreement

Is anyone else coming?

If so, what papers are you interested in listening to?

Also, if you’re coming, let me know, maybe we could grab a meal, ale, or coffee together!