Jars Like Us

I’ve prayed the same prayer for over eight years. Sometimes at the end of a much longer prayer. Sometimes it was the only prayer that I had.  “Dear Lord, please bring us closer to each other and closer to you. Amen.”

Pretty simple. Pretty average.

I had no idea the extent in which God would make this prayer come true in my life this past year.

 


 

A journey to parenthood

My husband and I first started dating eight years ago. We met at a private, midwest Christian college. We had mutual friends and the same sense of humor. We graduated with honors and planned our future together. That’s when my simple prayer began.

We quickly started checking the boxes…

  • Law school. Check.
  • Wedding. Check.
  • Careers. Check.
  • Our first home. Check.
  • Baby #1….

A few months went by. These things can take time we were told.

6 months…. Nothing.

1 year…. Still nothing.

At about the 9 month mark, we decided to take a deeper look into why this was happening. Or rather…wasn’t happening. Why was this so seemingly easy for others, but not for us. Months of testing resulted in medications, different doctors, mounds of vitamins, acupuncture, monitoring, and special diets. We read books and listened to podcasts. We joined online support groups to find encouragement and answers. We prayed. We suffered silently while others around us celebrated their growing baby bumps and we waited patiently for God to answer our prayer.

The infertility club

This past winter we got the bad news. Unexplained infertility. “Less than 2% chance of ever conceiving naturally.” We were devastated. More specifically, we were labeled with unexplained male factor infertility. A “diagnosis” that we would’ve never, ever thought we would receive.

After one medicated + monitered + trigger shot IUI (inter-uterine insemination) that ended up being a miserable failure, doctors gave us two heart-breaking options: 1) in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or 2) donor sperm. Because we decided very early on that we would not take any measures that we felt violated our beliefs or that failed to honor the sanctity of life, we knew our journey was coming to an end. Our options were now gone. We were left with no explanation.

Everything that we planned for our future had disappeared. We were angry. We felt abandoned by medicine. Abandoned by God. Why was this God’s plan for us? Aren’t children part of God’s plan for marriage? Why would he keep this blessing from us? What purpose does he have for us if children aren’t an option?

But God was working in our suffering. We quickly learned that infertility is the club that no one wants to join, but it’s a club that God uses to produce godly people for his glory.

We have this treasure in jars of clay

At the peak of our infertility struggle, our church (shout out to Christ the Lord Lutheran Church and our awesome pastors) began a sermon series on the apostle Paul. The sermon series focused on the words of encouragement that Paul–someone familiar with suffering in this world–shared with congregations along his missionary journeys. In the midst of our biggest struggle, God provided us the perfect section of his Word to refocus our hearts on what we already knew by faith:

     7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)

What we know is that we are jars of clay. We are broken, imperfect vessels. We are not immune to suffering and pain in this life. Death will one day take us and everything we know. But in us there is a message of life. A message of joy living inside of us. A message that we hold onto and a message we get to share. Suddenly, our lives begin to have purpose again.

Instead of focusing on the cracks of pain and holes of despair, we focus on the deliverance–the life. This is what Paul believed and therefore had to speak. Life not here, but there. A resurrection, a place in heaven.

God is working in our suffering. He is here. He is alive. He’s not the cause of our pain, he’s the answer to it. While God has not answered our prayer of a biological child, he was answering my original prayer that brought me closer to Him and closer to my husband. Through our suffering, I have learned that anything that makes us dependent on God is a good thing, perhaps the best thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish my husband and I never had to go through this. I wish we didn’t have to experience the literal gut-wrenching pain and heartache that comes with infertility. But, this aching keeps us from being satisfied with this world. We won’t be right until our feet touch heaven. This jar, this shell of life with its suffering and hardship has a way of keeping us awake and longing for the only things that will satisfy us, the one person, the only place. 

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:18)

We join Paul, and we speak what we believe. We be the light to hurting people who don’t know where to look, we hold out a Christlike hand to others and share the hope that we have.

 


 

Through all of this, God has given us the amazing opportunity to pursue adoption. He has replaced our fear with faith and provided us with the courage to move forward with our adoption journey. For us, this isn’t just the next step. This is God’s calling for us. God has opened our hearts to something so much greater than we could have ever imagined. We look forward to sharing our story with others and bringing our sweet child home to us from South Korea. Follow our journey!

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