Today I thought I'd write about my struggle for joy in the Lord lately. Hopefully somebody out there can learn from my experience. This is a little harder for me to share, but I feel led to, so I hope that's because somebody needs to hear it.
The past several days have been hard for me. The temporary setback in our treatments has led to questions about whether or not we were hearing correctly from God to proceed with them, general confusion, and lots of anger, frustration, and disappointment on my part, as well as sad realizations about this flesh that I inhabit.
David and I decided to pray, and I decided to fast to hear from God about the direction He might want us to take, and to try to hear if He wanted us to change course. So on Monday, I fasted until dinner. Now, I don't fast often, so I'm not good at it. I'm bad at it actually. Monday I had to do a lot of errands, and just about the time that I was getting the most hungry, I had to go to Walmart. Being hungry makes me weepy, and in the mood I was in, on Monday it led to self-pity.
Monday in the early afternoon is also the time that all the pregnant women in Birmingham decide to go shopping at Walmart. So here I was, hungry, cranky, weepy, and angry, trying to do my grocery shopping. If my glance could kill, there would've been pregnant women down all over Walmart. No survivors. These women were not women with their own stories and struggles to me at that moment. They were faceless beneficiaries of the gift that I'd been denied. So naturally, they were going down. (NOTE: I do not despise my pregnant friends. Yes, sometimes its hard to look at you, but give me a minute to compose myself, and I'm fine and happy to chat. I do want to know about your life and your pregnancy, and I don't want to miss out on that because I'm having a hard time.)
So, the evil and envy in my heart came out full blast, and I was humbled by my own sinfulness. The end of the day came, and the main thing I'd learned from my fast was not what we should do about our treatments. It was that sin in me is strong, and that almost three years of struggling against it in this area haven't seemed to yield me much in the way of victory. This was very humbling to me, and those of you who've known me long know that I don't like to be humbled. Despite reading the right books and singing the right praise music and trying to pray the right prayers, I am apparently incapable of not throwing a hissy fit when I don't get what I want when I want it.
It was so easy to feel like I had it together spiritually when my life was going along pretty smoothly. It went that way throughout my life, from cradle through early marriage. Until infertility hit, I'd never experienced the shattering of a major life dream. My childhood was idyllic. I was sheltered, and I was blessed. It was pretty easy to love God. It was easy to desire God.
I do not think that I didn't love God then. I do think that I often confused loving God with loving His gifts. God and His gifts were very intertwined in my understanding; I think they are for most of us. But what do we do when the gifts are taken away? What do we do when we feel that we are left with just God? I know what I've done.
I've desired the gift more than the Giver. I've said, "You know, God, thanks for sticking by me, but if you don't mind, if I have to choose, I feel like taking the thing I want over you right now." It's hard to admit, but its true. Getting to the place where I can admit this is good. And I've had to admit it a lot lately. But admitting it leads to humility. It leads me to an understanding, once again for the millionth time, that I cannot be good on my own. I try, and I fail. Miserably. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."- Romans 7:19-20, 25.
I have to count on Christ to make me desire Him instead of stuff. And He promised that He has begun a good work in me, and He will be faithful to complete it. He will do it; I just have to keep asking Him to keep doing what I cannot do on my own. If I am frustrated by my inability to wholeheartedly obey His calling, I am not alone. The apostle Paul experienced it before me, and God didn't give up on Him. He won't give up on me, either.
I guess I'm thankful for the chance to learn that I'm not as great as I thought I was when life was basically going my way. And I want to learn now, instead of later, how to desire God first in my life, in front of all the gifts. I want to be the person who can be happy with Him and nothing else. After all, when I get to the end of this earthly journey, there will be nothing else but Him. My flesh gets in the way of my desire for Him now, but I'm thankful that it won't be that way forever.
P.S. I am starting a book called "When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy," by John Piper. I recommend it.