Day 1: a violent word

God is good. All the time?

Did you grow up singing the Sunday School song, “Cast your burdens on Jesus”? I woke up singing it the other morning which set me looking into Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the LORD.” I love this Hebrew word for cast. It’s a violent word for throwing down. We sing so nicely about laying down our burdens at the foot of the cross, coming to Jesus, etc. But sometimes there’s a burden that you just need to thrown down, to cast down to the LORD and let him sustain you.

You’ve been there, I’m sure. Maybe not you yourself, but you’ve been around people that have been there. And we want to offer a word of encouragement, a word of sustenance. So we say things like “it won’t always be like this,” or “I can’t wait to see how God uses this.” And those words are said with sincerity, I think.

But what I really want to explore and what I am really learning is that God is good in the midst of suffering. And God is good regardless of the outcome of that suffering in this life because God is eternally good. What he is doing is eternal. And so I have grown dissatisfied with temporal reassurances.

I need to throw down my struggle and doubt and pain upon Jesus and let him sustain me.

So I want to get real with you for a couple of blog posts about our struggle with infertility. I have and continue to cast down the burden of infertility directly to Jesus. The invitation is not for you to carry our burden. I want to invite you into how I have processed control, freedom, questions people ask, theological issues, and all that.

Is God good if he doesn’t bring us a child?

That’s the question. The question isn’t, “Is iVF ethical.” It’s not, “So are you going to consider adoption?” The question is, Is God good even if he doesn’t bring us a child of our own?

I’ve heard the same question in quite a variety of ways. Is God good if this cancer is terminal? If this church closes? If I never marry? If my dad never changes?

So I want to talk about infertility because it’s what I am talking about in my life. I’m sharing about this in the midst of our struggle with it because I don’t want to wait until it’s all resolved. I don’t want it to only be okay to talk about infertility when we see what God has in store for us in the struggle. I believe God is active in the struggle itself. And I want to testify to God’s goodness in the midst of suffering.

Here’s the summary of what I hope to share:

This series is intended to bring the anonymous struggle of infertility into the light.

To those unaware of infertility, I hope to make it personal and known rather than generalized and unnoticed.

To those struggling, I hope to bring comfort and empathy.

To those within the Church, I hope to bring a theological framework for engaging the questions and ministry that arise with infertility.

I am a married Christian whose medical chart reads, infertile. This is my angle, and I hope it serves you.

 

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Intro: no guarantee

I have this friend. She and I, we’re the kind of friends who help sort things out. Whether it’s who she thinks is the best dancer on SYTYCD or which view of God’s providence I am trying to align with theologically, we think out loud together. She is someone I can say anything to. She knows my ugliness, and she never picks up a gavel.

In this season of life, our hearts are heavy. There is a lot of sorting, and there is a lot to say. And so, we are choosing the dare – to be honest, in hope of discovering the truth.  Single or married, man or woman, forty or twenty, healthy or ill, we wish to understand our suffering. We invite you in with one question: what do we do when we want what we do not have, and there is no guarantee that we will ever get it?

This question is so raw for us. Life has thrown some curve balls; ready or not, our stance matters. As we parse our questions and face our confusion, pray that we would listen well. We want to know God’s goodness in the midst of suffering, even before it resolves.

It is finished.

For years, several questions regarding faith have (re)surfaced.

Take a peek into my mind…

According to James, is there “alone” faith and a faith that is effective and productive? If so, this raises the question, effective and productive of what? Of fruit? Of works? Do both impact justification? If James describes two different categories of faith (an “alone” faith and an effective, productive faith), is only one truly salvific? If obedience to the law maintains or preserves salvation, what’s the quota?

I believe that the faith that alone justifies is not unproductive of works. Faith according to Paul is the wholehearted trust in God that according to James produces works. There is nothing we do that saves, but salvation does transform our whole life. It becomes different and produces fruit and good works. As a rookie theologian, I believe James writes of faith as proof of justification. The vindication of righteousness is our good works. And complimentary to James, Paul writes of faith as the ground of justification, for we cannot have something to boast about. It is Christ who is the ground of our justification. The conclusion: our justification is by faith alone, but it is not a faith that is alone.

Jesus came to live the life that we can’t live – a life of obedience.

He lived in perfect obedience to the Father. To be a Christian is to say that I rest on Christ’s completed work because “it is finished.” What exactly was finished?

Everything needed for life and salvation in God.

Everything is finished for the perfectionist, the moralist, and the “to-do list” maker.

For, in Him, we find rest.

Walk with me quiet, walk with me slow
with watered down coffee and words of gold
I can feel the edges of these things
when I hear you speak to me, so walk with me.

Walk with me empty, walk with me strong
the hush of our voices, when the day seems so long
It is like a balm, it is like a jewel
It unravels all I thought I knew.

Tell me the story, where old is made new,
the promise of ages, and all things that are true
When the shadows fall and the wrecking ball
swings and tears me through the heart.

Will you lead me, beside the still waters
where the oil, it runs over,
and my cup overflows.
You restore my soul.

* Thankful for friends who walk with me and remind me of His promises when the shadows fall.