I feel like we spend much of our lives waiting for the spring. We keep hoping and praying for that miracle, for stubborn problems in our lives to resolve, for relationships to change, and for our losses to be restored. But we still see bare branches against a cold sky.
Then it happens, almost imperceptible at first. The grey twig forms a small bud. Hope flickers cautiously, as we contemplate this tiny resurrection, hovering between wonder and doubt. But then there is no doubt, as life explodes triumphantly from its cocoon.
Our winter times teach us in paradox; that despair is the illusion, and even the most barren looking branches may blossom again.
We can not really know what resurrection life awaits unseen.
My husband and I have walked a long journey that is familiar to many others, of pregnancy loss and twelve years of infertility. We have experienced God’s redemption in our family through adoption, as He graced us with three gifts; each with their own hard but beautiful story. They are a sign that He hears, that He feels the pain of our loss, and that His plan is always working despite our circumstances and feelings. He is the only one who can take broken things and make them into a beautiful new whole. I felt at peace with fact that I was in my early 40’s and would never experience a full pregnancy, childbirth or have a biological child. But the ache was still there, and I accepted that it always would be. There are some griefs that will never be fully healed in this life. There were small sparks that kept that tiny flame of hope flickering. Random comments about people that adopted several children and then got pregnant. Miraculous pregnancy stories in scripture that moved me in surprising ways. A few friends with miracle pregnancies after a decade of waiting. But nothing that would make me risk real hope again.
Our journey to China and our time there was a faith building one. Many times I saw God do things I had considered impossible. I learned how to take the risk of an impossible prayer, hold onto it tenaciously and wait. That helped my faith to grow. And suddenly, I felt God giving back to me a prayer I had stopped praying years ago. I felt like He wanted me to ask Him again to help me get pregnant. Despite my age, my medical history, and our graveyard of losses, I asked again, and after the past two years I did believe He could, but I didn’t have much hope.
A week before my 42nd birthday, and 1 month before we left China, I discovered I was pregnant. I still struggled with old fears and anxieties, but this time was different. I felt like God was giving me the courage to hope again. He was doing a new thing for His glory, and He had resurrected a prayer I had stopped praying. I went in for my first ultrasound, at our busy local hospital. I had never had a normal OB ultrasound, as they had always been ectopic pregnancies. I knew that if this one was bad, I would face both the language barrier and impersonal bedside manner that is standard there. I felt that it would be unbearable. But the day before my test I had a prayer time with my teammate, and the image of Peter walking on the water to Jesus came before me. He was able to do the impossible, because he was doing what Christ had called him to do. It felt just as impossible that my ultrasound would be normal after so many failures, but I resolved to believe that it would. And miraculously, it showed an intrauterine pregnancy with a heartbeat. We have had many ultrasounds since, including our 20 week diagnostic, and praise God, they have all been normal. I am 24 weeks pregnant with a little boy, and feel that I am living inside of a miracle every day. While pregnancy is not easy (especially at 42!), I am thankful that I can experience all of it, from the months of nausea and fatigue to the wonder of a baby kicking inside of me.
I am sharing so much of our story, because I hope it will encourage others who are in a winter season of their lives. We also faced years of hopelessness and despair, when our prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling and it felt like nothing would ever change. When we are in those painful times we can’t imagine that God is still working. But He is. Our circumstances may distort our view of Him, but He remains the one who suffers with us, the one who always has a redemption plan, and the one who continues to work on our impossible prayers, even when we have given up on them.