For a cancer patient who received test results after months of chemotherapy, it’s the news you hoped and prayed for. But for a couple longing to start a family, it’s the news that drags you down into a pit of disappointment.
My daughter, McCauley, is among the ten percent of American women who experience infertility. When all the women in your family have easily conceived and delivered healthy babies, it’s a condition that blindsides you. Like many women, my daughter rightly anticipated the joyful fulfillment of children as “a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Ps. 127:3).
Longing for a Child and God’s Unseen Hand
McCauley suffers from hypothalamic disease, a condition that caused her body to stop producing estrogen, which is essential for pregnancy. A fertility specialist gave her the assurance that intensive hormone treatments would cure the problem. It didn’t. Grief heaped upon grief. Every thirty days she felt like she was being kicked to the curb and abandoned (again).
I wailed along with her. As a mother I would gladly trade places to endure her suffering. As months of waiting turned into years, we all questioned:
Where are you, God?
Don’t You see this godly couple who will raise their family to love and serve the Lord?
Do You care about their broken hearts?
But even in moments of despair, we were reminded that God’s unseen hand is always at work. Waiting is never a waste.
I remember a turning point when my daughter taught me a profound truth. She said, “Since our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, I’ve come to understand that I don’t need a child (or anything or anyone else) to fulfill my purpose. Without children, I will still glorify God.” Although the pain of loss seared her heart like a branding iron, she continued to hope and to live as an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
The fact remained: McCauley’s body was as barren as Sarah’s (Gen. 18:11–12). Yet she and her husband Trent chose to pause fertility treatments until they heard clear direction from the Lord.
Learning to wait in faith isn’t something you can master from reading a blog post or taking an online course. When trouble looks you in the face, you learn to seek His face. Waiting on God’s sovereign hand calls for soaking in His truth. Only this will squeeze out the temptation to become bitter and believe the lie that you are rejected. Time well spent in waiting will be spent searching out God’s goodness, which is threaded throughout His Word, and allowing the truth to solidify in your mind.
Three months later, the Lord laid on McCauley’s heart to pray for a Christmas miracle. She and Trent believed it was the direction they’d been seeking. Even though it was a bold step of obedience, they began to pray for the gift of a child at Christmas. Holding this prayer as a sacred secret, they dared to believe nothing was too hard for the Lord who is sovereign over McCauley’s body and the giver of life.
Israel’s Longings for a Savior
During the holidays, McCauley found comfort in the Scriptures as she meditated on Israel’s longing for a Savior. God’s people waited over 2,000 years from the time of Abraham to the birth of the Messiah. She journaled her heart’s cry to God:
In desperation, I consider God’s chosen people, who for generations waited for the promised Messiah to come. How their hearts must have grown weary of waiting, longing, and praying for their Savior. O Father, allow the weight of those years, lifetimes, and generations of prayers to encourage my heavy heart. As I wait, help me remember that You are the God of time, sovereign in all Your ways, the Lord who does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Would You look upon me now and remember me (1 Sam. 1:11), let not your Spirit depart from me but comfort me with Your steadfast love and mercy (Psalm 119:76–77). Father, I pray boldly that You would grant us a Christmas miracle—the gift of a child. In Your wondrous and mysterious ways, O God, would You move in me to accomplish the impossible.
While I wait for the celebration of Christ’s birth, and the arrival of my own child, I echo the words of Mary,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant . . . for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:46–50)
The longing for a child is a desire given by our heavenly Father which is wrapped with a promise. God’s promise is to meet all of our deepest longings through His Child, our Savior Jesus Christ. All of our yearnings are satisfied in God’s Son.
God Is Faithful in Each Chapter
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Robert Wolgemuth wrote a beautiful testimony of how God wove their lives together in chapter 2 of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story:
God is sovereign. His ways are unfathomable and inscrutable. Only He fully knows why He does what He does. But we know that whatever He does is purposeful, good, and for our ultimate joy . . . He has been faithful in each chapter thus far. And we know that He will be faithful in each one yet to come, that His grace will be sufficient for wherever He leads us. Above all, our desire is that our lives will showcase the beauty and goodness of His story.
Likewise, God has been faithful in McCauley and Trent’s story. Flipping the page to a new chapter, their narrative takes a dramatic, only-God-could-have-done-it turn. By mid-December, McCauley began to feel nauseated, as if she’d contracted a virus that wouldn’t leave her alone. A friend asked her if it was possible she might be pregnant. She hadn’t even considered the prospect! (Perhaps like Sarah?)
She and Trent decided to wait until Christmas morning to take a pregnancy test, since they were holding onto the hope of a Christmas miracle. Anxiousness mingled with expectation. Unlike the last one, this test reported: positive. God redeemed their years of heartbreak in an instant. What’s more, He proved without a shadow of a doubt that His invisible hand is the only explanation for the baby in McCauley’s womb.
Our first granddaughter is due in four weeks. I’ve already been whispering to her about the gift of Jesus, God’s Son, who sacrificed His life to save the world and who will fulfill every longing of her heart. When she is born, Trent and McCauley will beam with the reality that their waiting wasn’t wasted, and that God’s manuscript for their family, in hindsight, is masterfully, perfectly penned. He can be trusted to write their story and to write yours and mine.
As I imagine our new grandchild cradled in my arms, I long for the day when she will be old enough for me to tell God’s story of her life, beginning with chapter 1, “The Christmas Miracle.” From her first breath, I’m praying her life will proclaim the goodness of God in every chapter and the faithfulness of His unseen hand at work.
Reflect and Discuss
Waiting for God to reveal His unseen hand calls for soaking in the truth of His goodness and faithfulness. What verses help you to do that? Consider starting a list of “soaker” verses beginning with Psalm 34:8, Psalm 145:9, and Nahum 1:7.
This encouraging quote is found on page 38, “Things are not always as they seem here on earth. Heaven rules. An unseen hand controls those who think they exercise ultimate control.” In what situation do you need reminding today—that heaven rules?
It’s your turn to talk! Look in the rearview mirror of your life story, and tell us about a time when you couldn’t see God’s invisible hand at work. Is it plain to see now? Share in the comments below!