It’s been over a decade now that infertility has marked my life.
Long before we brought our adopted children home, I faced off with infertility. I crawled to the feet of Jesus, begging Him to break the hold this agony had on me. I wrote Pain Redeemed from the middle of that place and I chose to declare Jesus the winner. Today and for good.
Yet, there is a paradox in the Christian faith. It’s the term “faith” itself. The very essence of faith is believing in what we have not-yet-seen.
So while I know that infertility doesn’t get to overcome me, my faith, my marriage, my relationships, or my heart—I still have to live on the battlefield.
I still have to face the enemy’s attacks.
I still have to choose Christ and truth today so the thing I have faith in will be my tomorrow.
Every attack from the enemy comes with a goal. There is some ground that the enemy is trying to conquer, and the bottom-line is that he wants me to turn away from God. The attack isn’t the sin; but it is tempting me toward sin—toward breaking down my relationship with God and turning my back on Him.
And the enemy’s favorite way to do this is to whisper lies. Remember the garden? Yeah, he hasn’t changed much.
The other day I was visiting friends who were fostering a tiny baby girl.
When I lifted her into my arms, I expected to do what I always do: face off with infertility by loving on babies and praying blessings over them and maybe crying a little, but definitely worshiping the God who made them.
And instead, I felt like I was being attacked by armed forces on every side.
Why do people who already have babies get more? What is wrong with me that no one would ask me to raise a baby? Am I not good enough? Is the core of who I am somebody undesirable and unworthy of a baby?
And that was just the beginning. It kind of nose-dived after that because lies are weird that way.
By the time I handed the baby back, I felt like the ugliest, most unlikable, most ridiculous person to ever walk the face of the planet. Of course I shouldn’t have a baby. God must have a reason for keeping me barren and empty and aching—it’s probably because I’m not thankful for what I have and I don’t do enough for the Kingdom.
See how the enemy fights? He fights dirty. A heartfelt cry of, I long for a baby, was turned into a trial and judgement on my physical, spiritual, and mental worth.
The easy-win plan would have been to simply speak truth. To refuse to entertain the lies and counter them with what I know about God and myself. Things like, I am part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…
But sometimes I’m not on top of my game. Sometimes I listen too closely when the wrong voice is speaking.
And when I listened to those lies, when I stumbled under the temptation of the enemy, my heart only had one place to land.
Phthonos. Or, in other words, envy.
A primitive word akin to phtherio, “decay, break-down, corrupt”—properly, strong feeling (desire) that sours, due to the influence of sin.
Refers to the jealous envy that negatively “energizes” someone with an embittered mind.
Perhaps you are different from me, but when I listen to lies, I find my heart overrun with envy.
Envy of any one and any thing that seems better than me. Envy of girls who are thinner, or have better hair. Envy of every stinking pregnant woman who ever lived. Envy of people who can sing better, or write better, or keep a cuter house. Envy of anyone who has raised children without the complication of attachment disorders. Envy of every woman who has a husband who does anything better than my husband.
The list is never ending.
Envy is no little thing. It’s a sin that rides right there beside murder, strife, deceit, and gossip. Embracing envy is turning our backs on God.
And envy, with all its corruption and breaking-down-of-hearts, is the favored offering of the enemy when we’re in the middle of battling lies about ourselves. He serves it to us on a silver platter—and I don’t know about you, but I stumble into the sin of envy time and time again.
Yet, there is good news. Isn’t that the best part of everything? No matter how far down we wallow in sin–as long as we’re still breathing, there is still hope, until the very last second. Because Jesus is bigger and greater and stronger–He is the Hero of every battle.
He is the safest safe place, even when we are marred by the ugliness of our sin. In James 3:14 we’re reminded, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.” As with any sin, we have to call it out and lay it down—saying, God, here I am with all this mess.
And then– we’re given the rest of the instructions a bit later, in James 4. Bullet-point notes of what surrender looks like:
- Submit yourselves, then, to God.
- Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
- Come near to God and he will come near to you.
- Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…
The battle of infertility isn’t sin, of course. The battle is life in between what is and what is to come. But when we stumble, when we nose-dive into envy and jealousy—we need to do the work of turning again to the Lord, humbling ourselves before the only One who can win the fight against the sin we carry and the lies that started it.
And He will. He does. He did.
Waging war on the lies of infertility may just require speaking truth, but it also may require deep, heart-bending humility and confession when we find ourselves wallowing in the muck and mire of sin.
At least, for me it does.
Oh, Lord, may I always allow You to be the Hero You came to be. The One who wins every battle—saving and redeeming my heart from the brokenness of my sin.