Trying to Pray

pexels-photo-594421.jpeg

As I slowly pulled my tired body out of bed, I felt it again. Overwhelming sadness. It was the same sadness I had been feeling every day for months. I remember the exact moment this sadness became a part of my life: the moment after waiting several minutes to discover that the strip did NOT turn blue. After surgery, many months of infertility treatment, and “pouring out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15), I was not pregnant.

It was a hard enough blow to learn that, yes, I truly am incapable of bearing children. But it was excruciating to find out when I did: the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. It was like some sort of sick, cosmic joke. Any time I turned on the television, bought groceries, or did anything, “Happy Mother’s Day” everything scraped against my fresh wounds.

I think this would be a good time to explain that I’m a Christian and I believe in a God who hears our prayers and is able to work miracles. Many months prior to the strip not turning blue, my doctor told me I had a zero percent chance of getting pregnant. But I was about to have surgery, and that meant there would be hope. We had been down this road years before. Surgery, followed by hope, followed by disappointment. But this time, we had a plan to increase the probability of getting pregnant after surgery from a “zero percent chance” to a “slight chance.” And I laid my “slight chance” before God in a series of intense prayers drowned in a thousand tears. I was full of faith and, at the same time, willing to accept what God’s will may or may not hold. I begged Him to make my longings to bear a child go away and to not let me go down this road if motherhood wasn’t at the end of it. I prayed for wisdom and guidance. I prayed for Him to help me stay obedient to His will. And after weeks of praying like this—and the longing for motherhood ever persisting—I prayed for a miracle.

And I was disappointed.

For months, I lived with a label seared into my heart. “Barren.” My body was unable to carry and nurture life. I was not dead, but I no longer felt alive. My life had become a bare wilderness. Dry and lonely. I felt broken, purposeless, useless, and like a failure as a woman and wife.

I wish I could say that in those months, I fervently sought the face of God and clung to Him. I tried to, but I just couldn’t. On a good day, I would pick up my Bible, set it back down, and pray, “I can’t today, God. I’m sorry.” Some days I could actually open my Bible and read a paragraph before whispering, “God, this is all I can read today. Thank You for your grace. Please help me.” Most days, my Bible remained untouched and no words came, only deep wailing and tears. It’s not that I didn’t want God; the pain was too overwhelming. I could barely pray even when I went to church; I mostly just sat in my pew and cried.

In the midst of all of this, God was silent. It was through this season of silence and wilderness that I learned that when we’re unable to cling to God, He clings to us. And when He clings to us, that is enough. At times, He doesn’t use words because He knows some wounds are too deep for words. He knows exactly what we need: we need Him to be there. And He is.

After a long season of silence, I began to hear God’s still, small voice again. When I prayed, “I can’t today, God. I’m sorry,” He would respond, “That’s ok.” Two words. Months of silence were followed by barely anything. But when you’re desperate, “barely anything” is just the lifeline you need. And slowly, it became easier to pray my tiny prayers.

Then one day, I was done. I was done praying badly. I was done feeling the same overwhelming sadness again and again. I was done being in this wilderness. So in the early hours of morning—so early that even the sun was still in bed—I woke up, dragged my sleepy body to the living room, and opened my Bible. When I started reading, I felt nothing. But I forced myself to engage, circling words, underlining phrases. And when I finished, I prayed. I mean, really prayed with ugly tears. I was determined to pray until…until. And after asking all my “why” and “how long” questions, I said what had been brewing in my heart for so long:

“God, You really disappointed me.”

Those words had been pent up in my heart for so long that when they came out, they kept coming out again and again. Loudly. It was like a wrestling match; and if volume and tears were points, I was winning. “God, You really disappointed me! You disappointed my husband! I told You I didn’t want to go through all of this if it didn’t end in motherhood and YOU DISAPPOINTED ME!” And I kept going until I felt like I got it all out. Then after some moments of silence, God answered. Not with condemnation or guilt, but with these words: “Read the passage you read earlier again.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

And after I read those words, God drowned my wilderness and flooded me with His comfort.

The Father of mercies and God of all comfort turned my barren wilderness into a river.