Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reward and Reproach

Sometimes my struggle with infertility is on the surface. I hate bottles, binkies, baby bumps, and pregnancy news. Other times, my struggle reaches the depths of my soul. Why would God choose this path for us - why would he keep this good thing from us?

Here are two major stumbling blocks for me:

1. Rewards. People say that children are a "reward," and until yesterday I hoped it was just a phrase. As in, not in the Bible. I was wrong. Check it:

Psalm 127:3 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."

Wow. Really? Rewards are something given after accomplishment or good behavior. Rewards are withheld from naughty and negligent children. You get a gold star when you finish your chores. You get a baby when....hm.
 
2. Reproach. I recently read Genesis 30, focusing on the meanings of each name of the children of Jacob. I felt a sting when I  got to the end of the chapter:

Genesis 30:23 "[Rachel] conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.'"

Whaaaaat? Is it just me, or does reproach=punishment? I looked it up on dictionary.com, and "disgrace" was one definition given, so I'm kind of hoping that's what Rachel means. There is disgrace in the inability to conceive. That's easier to digest than "God has taken away my punishment." Punishment for what? General sinfulness? Isn't that the point of grace? Sin's punishment is removed? Stumbling block.



I know I'm not the first person to struggle with this concept of God withholding something good from me. I can preach to myself that I don't deserve anything good, so I'm blessed to even be alive, but it doesn't take away the pain. It just makes me bitter.

I read this post from a friend's infertility blog, which was written years ago.

I relate to much of what he says in his post, including this statement: "I doubt that God is for me. I have this underlying faith in the goodness of God and the sweetness of his word, but his hand seems anything but good, and his words seem less and less sweet."

Throughout his post, he lists verses that do bring him hope and comfort, ending with this:

Isaiah 9:1 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins."

"The main thing I take away from this is that there is a point where God suddenly and mysteriously relents of his wrath and starts to speak tenderly. Oh, for that day to be soon!"

Amen, brother. Oh, for that day to be soon.
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