Have you heard somebody else’s “story” and, by comparison, felt as though yours isn’t significant?
How about shameful struggles from your past you hope will never become public knowledge?

I’ve been encouraged to share the background on ETL’s new book, Breathtaking Hope in the Furnace of Infertility. Humanly speaking, the timing seems off (as you’ll see in a moment). And, humanly speaking, it contains aspects of a life that nobody desiring respect would ever be so foolish as to share.

Yet, gloriously, these things don’t matter because God continues to show—through His Word and imperfect followers—that He is the Awesome One!

God has never been ashamed to choose ordinary, failure-prone individuals to display His glory or share the breathtaking hope which can only be found in Him. To that end, He allowed me to become the author of this unique book of encouragement for women struggling with infertility. Breathtaking Hope is also being used as a resource for those seeking to provide compassionate and meaningful support to individuals finding themselves childless against their will.

Oh, and yes—the book is available for purchase in paperback or e-book at Amazon and other global on-line retailers, or by request through your local bookstore!  For more information or to obtain a copy at no charge (if this can make a difference for you), please contact me directly through the author website, www.junestrickler.com.  

* * *

I may occasionally forget where I left the keys, but not the day God beautifully invaded my pain and invited me into this unexpected avenue of serving others.

* * *

My husband and I were unlike many couples who dream of parenthood. Neither of us possessed a burning desire for children, and we were okay with that. In time, however, that changed. We now wanted a baby and assumed one would come into our lives with relative ease.

Wrong assumption…

Not only did we fail to see a child come into our arms, we found ourselves in a shockingly long season of pain, disappointment, and crying out to God. A year ground into another, then another.

On several occasions, I experienced pregnancy-type symptoms. One such day I was sick with nausea, washing dishes, and wondering “Am I pregnant this time?” My mind and heart were as unsettled as my last meal while I battled what had become a familiar tangle of emotions: hoping God had given us a baby, while steeling myself against impending disappointment that He hadn’t.

As I continued my task, I prayed for a peace of mind which proved elusive; not only did I have an absence of peace, but the very air around me began to feel oppressive. I decided I’d better start focusing on pleasant things and tried to imagine the joy we would have in a matter of days if we were to experience our first ever, positive pregnancy test. Almost immediately, however, I cringed at the strong possibility that this month—like so many others—would bring us no closer to becoming parents.

In disgust, I realized my mind had gone full circle again. This “hoping to be pregnant” thing had become an emotional roller-coaster, and I was sick and tired of it. It really shouldn’t matter whether or not I became a mother, I reasoned. My ability to live a fulfilling life should not be dependent on something so far beyond my control as having children. Yet I couldn’t shake the fact I was terribly wounded inside and failing to gain any meaningful victory over a grueling emotional and physical battle. The unfulfilled longing for a baby was wearing me down and turning me into a person I did not want to be.

Tears trickled down my face and began falling into the soapy dishwater below. What a pitiful picture I’ve become, I thought. How I hated the wondering, hoping, and pain which accompanied infertility! No matter what I tried to tell myself, I ached for a baby!

That morning, I totally broke down. I wept in agony for myself, my husband, and the children we perhaps would never know. Thoughts of friends who were also experiencing infertility tormented me. And suddenly, like a hammer blow, I found myself weeping unashamedly for the thousands of women I had never met who were at that moment riding the bus, putting on their makeup, sitting at the keyboard, or trying to sleep half a world away. Women whose minds were whirling:

“Will I ever have a baby? Doesn’t God care? Is there something wrong with me?”

* * *

God, in His grace and love, orchestrated this moment of brokenness and grief when I would literally cry out to Him, “Lord, please let me help them! Please, somehow, let me help them!”

The instant I made that heartfelt plea, I realized God had been patiently waiting for that specific prayer to pour out of my soul. I felt an immediate, undeniable assurance from Him that, yes, He would use me to encourage those He loved who were hurting.

As my aching mind began to revive and envision avenues in which God might permit me to do this, something unexpected happened. He interrupted my racing thoughts with the phrase, “You are to write a book.” I was astounded at the specificity of it, not having often experienced this type of communication from God. Nonetheless, I found myself filled with apprehension.

Why, Lord, would you want me to write a book? I wondered.

I was a people person, failure prone and far too often learned things the hard way. It would make more sense, I reasoned, for God to choose someone who was smarter and more successful to take on that task. I brought these things before God as if He somehow had forgotten them.

It was both miraculous—and humorous—just how quickly and thoroughly God silenced those objections by placing the following Scripture in my mind:

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (I Corinthians 1:27)

Clearly, my insecurities and shortcomings were not going to be problematic to God.

* * *

Do you assume that when God gives someone a clear assignment, and the recipient is willing, things will then “progress” at warp speed?

If so, I’m laughing because it’s often the…

Wrong assumption!

* * *

In His mercy, God hid from me that day the incredible investment this endeavor would take in time, pain, trust, joy, failure, and forgiveness. I assumed the writing process would take only a few months, yet God intimately led me through it for over a two-year span of time. Those two years stretched into three, then five, seven, ten, twenty, and beyond.

And while God immediately permitted me to minister to precious friends and strangers, He ultimately made it clear this book would contain more wisdom and hope than I could have imagined. In His sovereign plan, it was custom-made for a younger generation facing tough and potentially terrifying times; a generation desperately in need of younger women who know and love Jesus, are grounded in truth, and able to discern God’s hand in every situation before them.

We’re living in a world of heartache, uncertainty, and temporary fixes. But the God I know is fully able to provide anyone with “breathtaking hope”.

* * *

Today, I know the sufferer through infertility doesn’t want dripping sympathy or to read another person’s story—she wants a baby! While never losing sight of this, reliable encouragement must provide its recipient with a foundation of spiritual truth and refreshment, even as it stretches and equips her for an entire lifetime.

Breathtaking Hope provides the reader a safe place where spiritual failures and successes through infertility are openly discussed and God’s unfathomable grace, love, and mercy for her are showcased in the areas of:

Loneliness;

Questions of God;

Having a life goal independent of circumstances;

Replacing damaging falsehoods with unfailing truths;

The pursuit of pregnancy;

Loving her husband well while dealing with pain;

Facing understandable concerns about adoption;

The heartbreak of miscarriage and secondary infertility;

What it means to pray biblically;

The struggles and victories of taking God at His word; and

The stunning love of God for her.

* * *

No matter your own age, marital status, family life, financial picture, or health, there’s an important “take away” for you from the background I’ve shared:

If God has given you a clear, distinct task/privilege to carry out relating to the breathtaking hope we have in Him, no matter how long ago it occurred, stick with it.

The road in carrying out your calling may be long, the battle tiresome, your failures daunting, and the value questioned.

But God…

Your fears may have taken on too much significance, the enemy of your soul may fiercely mock or attack you, and you may feel that it’s just too late for you to faithfully cross the finish line with what God has called you to do.

But God…                   

The pressure for the child of God to share his or her story (no matter how tattered or insignificant it seems) disappears once it’s understood that it’s God’s story we have the privilege of sharing with others. Refreshingly, it isn’t about us… ever!

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)

* * *

Thank you for being a part of ETL, and may you be encouraged today by the God who is faithful!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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