We got really good fertility news today. I had spent the day praying like I never have before, like it mattered and that it might change something. I’m always pretty leery to believe in miracles, the real life-changing undeniable ones. We often attribute many good things to God, when I think a lot of times it’s just good luck, because if He actually intervened that often a lot more people would be healed miraculously of cancer. Then I got pushed up against a wall in my own life, and so I prayed.
But it wasn’t clear-cut or easy. I wasn’t suddenly convinced that because I believe in a powerful God that we would get what we wanted. I was confused, I had a lot of conversations with friends who helped me to understand suffering in the midst of faith. I cried in my prayers wondering if God could even hear me. I tried desperately to avoid Hope because I didn’t have the strength for it, yet all the same I prayed for a hopeful outcome. It was a lot of tension, holding on to separate seemingly opposing concepts, and mostly just trying to make peace with my unknowable future.
We’re in lent right now, so I keep reading about the crucifixion. A book I was reading made mention of the loss of the crucifix symbol in protestant churches and what that does to our ability to remember. Although it is true that we believe in a risen Messiah, in only celebrating that we have gravely misunderstood our part in His suffering, and for that we must never forget but rather have gratitude for it with every step we take. This is important to recognize in seasons of pain, because on the basis alone of salvation through a suffering savior, we deserve nothing else. My friend Andrew was telling me the other day about a Hebrew song that repeats God’s faithful miracles and states over and over, that even if that’s all God had done, it would have been enough.
A few days ago I heard a motivational speech about a beautiful story of survival. A couple was expressing their gratitude for beating the odds, for a battle for life that they won by the grace of a miracle, and thus imparting faith into the awe-struck listeners. I think we should tell such remarkable stories, but what I can’t help doing in those scenarios is think about the chronic sufferer. The one whose Dad didn’t beat their fight against cancer, the one who got definitive news that they could not have biological children, the one with chronic pain that will never let up, the one with a genetic disease that will never be healed. When we listen through that filter I think we celebrate miracles and understand faith in a different way. Quickly everything becomes more layered and it feels unsettling to hear statements about how much faith one did or didn’t have related to an outcome. All the definitive claims about change in the name of a big God who does miracles because of how hard we fought in faith becomes less encouraging at face value. Then of course there is the underlying thesis of it all – God intervenes when we believe enough.
We cannot overlook the complexity of suffering when we talk about God’s intervention. We must celebrate odds defied and yet never forget the majority of us who fall right in line with statistics. How does a sufferer try to blend the oil and water that is gratitude, hope, and acceptance of what may be? How do you say all at once, it would have been enough, I believe you can intervene so would you, but if you don’t you are still good, and all the while still celebrate the lucky ones.
Trever and I got good news. We are slowly making our way towards getting the coveted green card out of this horrid place of infertility no one wants to be in. But I feel like I’m leaving friends behind, I am betraying my fellow sufferers because I got lucky, or because for some unknown reason God answered my prayers and yet not theirs. This experience has changed me, it changed the way I see pain, the way I pray, what I believe about God’s intervention, it gave me an empathy that I can say I honestly wouldn’t trade and will never forget. I celebrate our outcome in light of the sobering reality that we have no control, that despite our level of faith or willingness to fight we won’t all get our miracle, it is unfortunately the matter of this fallen place we call home.
There’s a page in my journal and all it reads is, “never forget it was a miracle”.
Lord help me, I never will.