It was February 2011. Fresh from an amazing Mexican vacation with my husband, I made a spontaneous decision to attend a women’s retreat.
That very month marked the five year anniversary of going off the pill.
I was attending the retreat because I wanted a release. To let down the walls. To talk about this struggle that I’d kept inside for so long. And maybe, just a little bit, to feel sorry for myself.
When I arrived to my room for the weekend, there were beds full of familiar, favorite faces. And there was one unfamiliar face. We were introduced, and I had known a little bit of her story prior. She was young. A brand new Christian. Unmarried. And pregnant.
It’s not about you that still, small, pressing voice whispered to me. So I swallowed the lump in my throat. And smiled.
The next morning, I poured my steaming cup of fresh coffee and found an empty table in an empty room. And I opened my journal. And began praying through the events that occurred the night before.
Ironically, that morning was a retreat-instated Fast of Silence. A scheduled block of hours where there was no conversation to be had. It’s wonderfully awkward – running into friends in the bathroom and giving uncomfortable, silent smiles. And it forced us to be still and hear what God had to say. Just for me. In the deepest part of my soul. I came wanting to release and was forced to take it anew to the Lord.
I was immediately aware that even in the “it’s not about me” conversation I was having with Him, He still knew.
I went to the standard crosswalk.com/devotionals on my phone but this time I stopped and quickly prayed about which one to read. I then chose one I don’t normally choose. Once I’ve actually never even read before. The verse? Genesis 25: 20-21, 26. Including this snippet:
“… and Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren …”
Of course. It’s almost laughable. But really, LORD, above all other things, it’s a relief. I’m so relieved to know that now. This month. Five years later. You still hear my cry. You still see that I can put on a happy face and laugh and joke and inside still feel three steps away from tears. Thank You that You have not forgotten me. And You never could.
“Our real blessings often appeal to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments, but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.’
– Joseph Addison
When we came back from Mexico that month, we were going to start the adoption conversation. And we quickly realized it was not a direction we were to go. For us, there were oversized blinking NO’s on all sides. No to getting pregnant. No to adoption. No to medical interventions. Just wait.
‘Instead of taking things into his own hands or finding someone who could give him a child, Isaac prayed for his wife.’
– Transformation Garden
The scripture doesn’t how the waiting. It mentions the time gap – but it’s all compacted down to seven verses. Even verse 21 of Genesis 25 doesn’t give any indication as to how long Isaac pleaded with You for his wife. All we know is they were married for 20 years before she gave birth. Isaac learned from Abraham’s mistake with Sarah. He didn’t take matters into his own hands. He simply waited. And pleaded. For 19 years. And eventually … in His way … in His time … He answered their prayer.
And then I read Devotional #2.
Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard me.
Again, it’s laughable at how specifically You’re speaking to me. And out of the story of Lazarus no less. When You loved therefore You waited to go visit and heal him. Here, Lazarus is still in the grave when this statement is spoken. The thanksgiving precedes the miracle. Jesus is giving thanks for what He is about to receive. Such a basic truth of prayer taught to us when we’re little as we give thanks before we eat, that unfortunately becomes a habit we only apply to meals. Here, Jesus is building the faith of those looking on, and thanking You in advance of the miracle. LORD, give me a heart of thankfulness instead of this heart of sadness.
‘Praise is really the most vital preparatory ministry to the working of miracles. Miracles are wrought by spiritual power. Spiritual power is always proportional to our faith. … I had received bad news and sad news from home, and deep shadows had covered my soul. I prayed, but the darkness did not vanish. I summoned myself to endure, but the darkness only deepened. Just then I went to an inland station and saw on the wall of the mission home these words: Try thanksgiving. I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, not to return. Yes, the Psalmist was right. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD.’
– Streams in the Desert