Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tired of Fighting? (By Stacey Armond)


I first started blogging in an attempt to gather all my long winded comments from other blogs into one place. Now, many of you whose blogs I frequent are saying, "How's that working out for ya?" Well, shut up. I have a lot to say.

I am grateful to Jon Acuff for many things; for his friendship and for introducing me via his blog Stuff Christians Like to so many fantastic, funny, wonderful people. One of my favorites is Stacey and her husband who sometimes answers to Hucklebuck. Stacey's Thoughts of Infertility is a online journal of sorts; helping lots of folks struggling with infertility. But it's not only about that. I've said this before and I will say it again. No matter what the subject matter, if something is written from a writer's heart I am a fan. I am a big fan of Stacey, and consider it a privilege to call her a friend. But enough of me, here's Stacey:

If you read my blog regularly and have a good memory, you might remember that I have been studying the book of Philippians for the past few months. I wrote a post about it back in February when I first started attending the Bible study, and I can't believe that 16 weeks have gone by! In the original post ("Perspective"), I wrote about how much I was looking forward to studying a book about "how to have joy no matter what." Now, as I near the end of the study, I want to write about something I learned this week.

While studying the last chapter of Philippians, I took a long look at Phil. 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." These are powerful verses, and I've been trying to soak them in. I know that I believe them, but how do I live it? How do I overcome my anxiety and truly live in peace?

One of the things that is so hard about the struggle with infertility and miscarriage is that it feels way too big for me. It is so far beyond anything I know how to handle. I'm not suggesting that it's the hardest thing in the whole world by any means, but being pregnant six times and not being able to do anything to help those babies grow and thrive is incredibly hard. Watching each one slip away has been devastating for us. After almost eleven years of marriage, we still have no children to hold in our arms and fill up our home. Even now we are in a season of waiting, and we have no idea how long it will last. All of these facts are hard to ignore. I wake up every morning painfully aware of them. I don't have a definite medical reason why this is happening. Although my doctors have identified and even corrected some problems over the years, we have no guarantee that I will ever deliver a baby. Sometimes I let the future scare me. Many times I let my circumstances rob me of my joy.

A few things clicked for me today as the Bible study led me to 2 Chronicles 20. I hope you'll read the whole chapter, but here's a recap:

Jehoshaphat (king of Judah) is warned of an impending attack. He immediately decides to inquire of the Lord. All of the people of Judah gather to seek the Lord's help, and Jehoshaphat leads them in prayer. For me, the highlight of this king's prayer is in 2 Chron. 20:12: "We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." Okay, now this I understand! Although I don't have a vast army threatening my life today, I do feel utterly powerless against my foe. I have no idea what to do other than keep my eyes on the Lord.

When we read further, we learn that God spoke through one of the men in the assembly. Here is what is recorded in verses 15 and 17: "This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'"

The people of Judah not only obeyed God; they sang and praised Him BEFORE they knew the outcome. Of course, God came through on His promise and the people rejoiced. In verse 30, we find Jehoshaphat's kingdom at peace because "God had given him rest on every side."

As I studied today it became clear what in the world these verses have to do with the fourth chapter of Philippians. What was the result of the people's obedience?

1. They rejoiced in what the Lord had done.
2. They recognized God's power and strength.
3. They rested in His peace.

Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I don't know what to do as my battle with infertility continues. The people of Judah were told to take up their positions and to stand firm. Yes, I have a part to play that is not entirely passive, but ultimately the result is out of my hands, and I'm okay with that as long as the battle is God's. I want to keep my eyes on Him, rest in His peace, and rejoice no matter what the outcome will be.

*All verses are quoted from the NIV. If you want to know more about this Bible study, click here: Precept Ministries

If you would like to read more from Stacey (and you really should - she's awesome), visit her at Stacey's Thoughts of Infertility.

20 comments:

jasonS said...

Stacey- I know a little how you feel. My wife and I had a son and then we've been trying to have another one for around 7 years now. There have been miscarriages and treatments and no one can tell us what's wrong. It's definitely a hard road- but we've been foster parents and adopted 2 little ones along the way.

Blessings to you and thanks for sharing this...

Helen said...

First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. Six children...I can't even begin to understand your struggles.
I have cried many tears myself over being unable to conceive. Being Catholic, invitro isn't even an option. I have cried out to God over this. I still do sometimes. I do know that even though God has not blessed my husband and me with the family we hoped for, He still loves us. Though I long for a child, I know God's love is sufficient.
Though I do hope we both get the children we long for, I especially hope for us to be sustained in His peace. Peace be with you Stacey.

sherri said...

The only good thing about problems too huge for us to tackle is, they are too huge for US to tackle-GOD HIMSELF must do it on our behalf.
There is always peace that comes to me when I realize I have done all I can do,and I MUST rely fully on Him.

I can't imagine the loss you've experienced. You are truly inspirational Stacey- keep on doing what you're doing.

P.S. You guys are an adorable couple!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Philippians, and especially 4:6-7, have always had a special place in my life, and specifically because my (grown) daughter & I need to remind each other of it often, this post breaks my heart. I pray for peace in yours. I can't even begin to fathom how you must feel. I will certainly pray for you guys. He certainly does "transcend all understanding." I just don't get it sometimes, which is why we need Him to help with such a task.

Billy Coffey said...

I could feel your heart coming through this, Stacy. Your faith, too. That you and your husband have had to endure this is heartbreaking, but that you've endured it with such faith is an inspiration to us all.

That was an amazing and honest post.

Annie K said...

Wow Stacey. Thanks for sharing your heart like that. Thankfully, God IS bigger than us and I'm glad He's got you in the palm of His hand. ;)

Funnyrunner said...

Stacey - I must admit that I am not "churchy" religious (though I certainly believe in God and try to be the best Christian I can be). I read every single word of your post (twice) and am motivated and inspired by you. You make the verses approachable, do you know what I mean? When life is at its hardest, I think all we can do is let go, let God, as the verses about which you write advocate. I remind myself often that, though I feel lost sometimes, there is a higher plan. God is never lost.

You are amazingly strong. I am saddened to hear about your struggles with infertility but confident that your faith and strength will guide you.

thanks for a beautiful post.

Beth said...

I love the way you put Philippians and 2 Chronicles together! Have you ever TAUGHT a Bible study? Because like Funnyrunner said, you made these big huge verses so approachable. And I always like your approach to the Bible because it's real and honest and intelligent...and I need to visit your blog more often than I do! :) Love ya, Stacey. Rejoice.

Stacey said...

Thank you Kathy, and all of you for these beautiful comments.

JasonS and Helen - my heart always breaks to hear of others whose lives have been touched by infertility and/or miscarriage. Thank you for sharing some of your stories here too.

Sherri - so, so true! Praise God that it's a lesson I'm finally learning.

Candace - I've never fully grasped the verses until it all became so clear recently! Thanks for your prayers. It means so much.

Billy & Annie K - thank you! I sure don't always feel like my faith is strong. I stumble and I fail to trust Him so often, but thankfully He is merciful.

Funnyrunner & Beth - thanks for the incredibly touching and encouraging comments. I am a very practical person, and I learn best when things are taught without all the fluff. (Not suggesting that anything in Scripture is fluff, but that some teaching styles are!) Beth, although many of the observations/conclusions are mine, I must give credit to the wise and faithful people of Precept Ministries for putting those verses together and teaching the material so clearly, yet making me dig into the Word and see it for myself.

katdish said...

Stacey -

Thanks again for guest blogging for me. I might even forgive you for liking Martha Stewart and killing Hucklebuck with an axe.

Stacey said...

Ah! I forgot something important!

Kathy, I'm always amazed that anyone not affected by infertility personally (and not related to us) would choose to get involved and willingly walk beside a couple who is experiencing this hurt. Thanks for your continued support and friendship! I know this topic can be awkward. Thank you for not being afraid to feature it on your blog.

Stacey said...

P.S. Sheesh, you have the memory of an elephant!

katdish said...

But, of course Stacey! You know I love you guys!

Hucklebuck said...

Would you forgive Stacey once and for all if we bought you some Lupe's queso?

katdish said...

Huck,

Sounds like a plan. Maybe we can get Jon to buy is all dinner next time he's in town. I swear if he blows thru here without meeting with us, that man is dead to me!

Connie said...

I'm Stacey's big sister and she means the world to me. I'm so proud of her. Isn't she so well spoken and brave? I always knew she would do great things! I love you, Stace. I know that God has an awesome plan. No matter what, we will always be right by your side, every single step of the way! XOXO

Thanks to everyone for your kinds words and support! :)

Peter P said...

Wow Stacey, that was a great post.

I am so sorry for your heartache, it is truly something which I cannot empathise with as we have never been in that situation.

You have made me realize how selfish we often are. We have 3 kids and are wondering if we wnat to 'go through' the trials of having another... and then there's you who would love to have just one.

How selfish am I that I might choose not to have another when we most probably can?

I'm so sorry.

I am just so glad that you are able to fall on God and his love and protection.

Thank you for sharing this!

Katdish - you're never going to get me guest posting here if you keep haing guests of this calibre!

katdish said...

Connie -

Thank you so much for stopping by my silly little blog. Your sister is a sweetheart.

Connie said...

You're so welcome. I'm obviously not even close to being as "cool" as Stace (or Huck) but it's so great to stop in and "visit" some of her blogging friends. I love the response she's gotten and that other people get to see how special she is!

Tony York said...

Stacey,

You hit on two topics that are connected to my life... Philippians chapter 4 is one of my favorite chapters because it contains the secret... the one that I keep forgetting.. :)

And the struggles that couples go through to have children. My wife and I have been blessed with 2 children this side of heaven and 4 (that we know of) on the other side. Miscarriage is a tough thing to go through for both husband and wife but I believe that the wife feels it the hardest.

I love how Paul juxtaposes two thoughts in Philippians 4.. anxiety and concern. I did a study on the two words and this is what I came up with. Paul tells us not to be anxious (to worry which is to torture oneself with disturbing thoughts) but instead calls us to be concerned which is to be active and interested in something.

It sounds like you and your husband have learned some of the secret contained in Philippians 4. That being, with Christ, we are involved in the affairs of our life and are content to accept where God leads. When worries come, we can cast them on His shoulders because they are much bigger than ours.

I was encouraged by your article... Katdish picks some great ones to visit her site. :)