If my experience was to be trusted, I would tell you that sex does not in fact lead to pregnancy. I would tell you that all those people out there who are getting pregnant and telling you it happened because of sex are lying. Why they are lying, I don't know but I bet there is going to be a whole Dateline episode devoted to it when the investigators finally figure it out.
Sex does not lead to pregnancy. Trust me. I've tried. A lot.
You know what else my infertility experience is teaching me? That God doesn't hear my prayers. Or that if he does, he doesn't care to answer them. I've been praying for pregnancy for a combined total of more than two years now. I've prayed humbly. I've prayed passionately. I've prayed with faith and without. I've prayed angrily. I've prayed joyfully. I've even prayed that God would just take my desire to be pregnant away, if he wasn't going to fulfill it.
Yet here I am with two years of trying, blood work, consults, invasive tests, pills, ultrasounds, injections, two IUIs, thousands of prayers written into my story.... and nothing to show for it but a breaking heart.
God does not hear my prayers. Trust me. I've prayed. A lot.
If my experience was to be trusted, this is exactly what I'd tell you.
Here's the truth though: my experience can't be trusted. There are billions of people who've walked the earth because their parents had sex and conceived. I'm one of them. I've never actually experienced the reality of sex leading to pregnancy, but there's enough evidence out there to make me believe that it does, even if my experience proves otherwise.
There's not the same kind of factual evidence to prove that God hears my prayers, but there is a spiritual history stretching back to the ancients and the very creation of the world that encourages and enlightens my faith. And it is faith- not proof- that I profess, after all. Faith that the same God who made Adam and Eve, who saved Noah, who called Abraham, who gave wisdom to Joseph, who empowered Moses to save the Israelites from captivity, who emboldened Joshua, who brought Ruth to Boaz, who anointed David, who both loved and grieved his people through their endless cycles of faith, disobedience, war, and peace, who spoke through John, who lived, died, and rose again in Jesus, who inspired Paul, and who is coming again to make all things new once and for all.... I profess faith that this same God does indeed hear my prayer.
It's jut that he's answering them according to his purposes, which- apparently- are not always the same as my own.
I was inspired to write this post after remembering the "by faith" passage in Hebrews 11. The passage describes faith (faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see) and then gives a brilliant list of biblical characters and instances of their faith which shine brightly in the biblical narrative. After the author of Hebrews writes so powerfully about these character and their faith, there's this:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
They died without seeing the same thing I'm waiting for: the Revelation 21 new heaven and new earth... that moment in time when the redemption Christ bought for us is made fully known. The day we long for when God will wipe every tear from our eyes, when there will be no more sickness or death or mourning, and when the old broken way of things will be no more.
They died, the passage says, only seeing that full redemption and welcoming it from a distance because God had planned something better.
So it is with me. Having faith doesn't mean I'll get the thing I'm praying for, does it? It doesn't mean I'll have a completely fulfilled life before I die. I doesn't mean I get pregnant.
It does mean that I see and welcome the redemption of my suffering from a distance. It means I'm confidant that God's plan is better than mine. It means I'm blessedly assured that he's going to redeem all of this for his glory.
That's Hebrews 11. You know how very next chapter starts?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Last week my friend Dominic told me that the word race in this passage comes from the Greek word for agony.
"Therefore... let us run with perseverance the agony marked out for us."
Maybe the idea of your Christian life being agony is not so encouraging. It's comforting to me, though, because for me the idea of living my whole life never being pregnant and never giving birth to a baby is just that: agonizing. I feel empty, sad, and a little desperate when I picture it.
It's only by faith that I'll be able to run with perseverance that agony. With my eyes set on Jesus, in his footsteps, I will scorn the shame of infertility as he scorned the shame of the cross. For the joy set before me, I will endure. I will consider him as I continue to run tired, breathless, and painfully, my agony.
By faith, I keep believing beyond my experience. By faith I will keep running, keep praying, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. By faith, even in my agony, I will not loose heart.
PS: Dominic shared his discovery about that word race/agony after preaching a sermon about faith and suffering. You can watch it here.