Jar of Blessings ….

Another brand new year has started. I have been waiting for a year long to receive the bundle of joy from heaven above, but it seems like I still have to wait a little while longer. I don’t know how much longer do I have to wait, but each time I waited, I yearned for it even more.

Hubs and I are considering IVF this year. I am still very much hesitant to go through the strenuous process that entails in IVF. In fact, I get the jitters to the point of having nightmares about it each time I think of getting close to those needles. Honestly, I am extremely lost in what I should do next.

And there was nothing much I could do except to continue with the medication I am currently taking and …. praying. Not just praying, but praying with an unwavering faith and believing wholeheartedly that God will deliver his promise in His perfect timing. Though I had had disappointing moments last year, God has never left my side. I could feel his presence with me each time I pray and read his word telling me to just wait. He has not forgotten about my prayer request. And that itself is a blessing.

So this year, instead of harping on something that only God can control, I have decided to channel my attention to something else – counting His blessings! Every day, no matter how menial His blessings may be, it is still a blessing that I should be grateful for. I will write them down and put them in a jar.I believe God blesses us in many ways we many not understand or even see. And this is one way I could remember His love for me.

How marvelous, how wonderful!

As I sang Chris Tomlin’s song “How Marvelous, How Wonderful”, I could not help but think how marvelous and wonderful are the works of the Lord, is the grace He freely gives us and His love He proclaim to all His people.

I am going to put an intermission to my 31 days of prayer during infertility to reflect on the Lord’s goodness.

I did not have it good over CNY. PMS was raging inside me and I was “attacked” all over by the three forces that draw us away from following God – the devil, the world and the flesh. Giving out the ‘ang pows’ was a pain as I see others happily celebrating CNY with their children. Pain and guilt overwhelmed me so much so, that I wanted to just shut myself out from everyone. God granted me that wish. I had my solitude with Him alone.

During the times of attack, I was pulled from both ends – my heart (which was weak and hardened) and the Spirit (who is ever willing to follow the Lord’s ways). I would like to think that God meant all this (my infertility) for good and to trust in His perfect timing. But my heart had blocked out whatever I’ve read from His word and continued to remain hardened. It was a tiring process. I’ve lost faith in the midst of this struggle. Just when I thought I have lost faith in the Lord, God intervened. I was so overwhelmed with stress of worries, anxieties and concerns of not being able to get pregnant that I became bitter and sorrowful. I felt sorry for my husband who had to put up with all my commotion. Then God sent a loving sister in Christ to call and comfort me. After speaking to her over the phone, I could feel a bulk of burden instantly removed from me and I was able to walk freely with God once again. Everything I’ve read from the Bible has become clear and my heart is more accepting of the Word and of advice given by my sisters in Christ.

Following the breakthrough, God reassured me of His promise by showing me His greatest commandment:

Deuteronomy 6:1-12

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

I’ve always pondered on this verse – “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” and wondered deeply of its meaning in my life. I sought the Lord for His guidance and advice. The revelation came after I met up with another sister in Christ, but at the point it hadn’t hit me yet. I have been seeking traditional medication for a year to cure our infertility problems. It worked (for a while). But after some time, my heart felt no peace in going for all the consultations and taking the medication. It was time for me to reflect again on God’s plan for me.

Then, my sister in Christ brought up the matter of not following and trusting in God completely. If I am to believe that God will bless me with a child, I will have to believe it throughout. Only then, I realized that I had been having diverted attention. I found that I was trusting the doctor more than I was trusting God. And that was when, this verse became even more clear to me. It was like a bolt that got lighted up. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. I have decided to terminate the medication altogether and just trust the Lord in His perfect timing and healing.

When I made that decision, there was a deep fear in me. Fear that if I quit now, I will not be able to get pregnant. Then it struck me hard that I have become too dependent on the doctor and his medication that I remained in a “bondage”. When the Lord released me from that bondage, fear sipped in immediately.  Then I prayed for God to ease my heart with His peace to follow His ways and His ways only. Following this, I received His answers:

Mark 4:40 – “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

Mark 5:36 – “Don’t be afraid; just believe

Jeremiah 17:7Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

Psalms 38:9-10;14-15;21-22

Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.

21 Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Truly I was overwhelmed to the point that I could not pray to God. My prayers were all meaningless and I felt like a hypocrite uttering nonsense to the Lord. But God did not leave me nor did He forsake me. This verse became clearer to me than ever:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

He shall direct my paths, of what to do and which way to go during this time of infertility. I cannot have a divided heart and a diverted attention when it comes to following Him.

At church today, the Lord’s message to me became prominent. There was a short children’s devotion before pastor’s sermon and it was about following God wholeheartedly. Then in the pastor’s sermon, He highlighted that there are only two categories of people whom God describes – the righteous and the wicked. We choose either to be righteous and have our names recorded in the Book of Life, or stray to the wicked ways of the world by indulging in idolatry. When we choose life, we can see how God works wonders in us. He reminded us of the three forces that strive to pull us away from God everyday of our lives, and emphasized that in the midst of it all, the Lord triumphs over all the earth. He is in control! A Christian’s life is full of struggles and there is no running away, but God uses our struggle for a good cause, for a good purpose (Romans 8:28).

Psalms 77:11-15

11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

Just as the church service was about to end, I pulled out a piece of paper from my Bible to jot down notes from the sermon. I opened the paper up which was folded and neatly tugged in between the pages of my Bible and it was an article dated back in 2009. The title “Patiently Trust His Timing” boldly flashed before my eyes. The contents of the article read:

God’s direction and timing is always perfect and always with a purpose – but it’s often with a purpose we may not initially see or understand. Even when we earnestly ask for direction through prayer and the study of His Word, God’s answers are usually not what we expect and are often perceived as slow in arriving. However, His direction and timing still remains, always perfect and always with a purpose.

God called Abraham to follow Him when Abraham was already seventy-five years old. But God blessed Abraham with great abundance and soon promised he would have many descendants; “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted” (Genesis 13:16).

Although this was a wonderful promise from God, it certainly did not seem possible. Not only was Abraham an old man, but his wife, Sarah, had never been able to have children and now was long past the normal child bearing years. Therefore, when Sarah failed to become pregnant – when God’s promise was apparently going to be unfulfilled – she formulated a plan to “help” God.

Genesis 16:12 – “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Since this was an accepted practice and seemed like a reasonable way to fulfill God’s promise, Abraham agreed. Not surprisingly, great tension soon developed between Sarah and her maidservant. This tension increased when Ishmael was born and even continues today with the unfortunate hostilities we see in the region of the Middle East. Abraham clearly heard the call and promise of God, but he became impatient with God’s timing and resorted to worldly solution.

It was another thirteen years before God fulfilled His promise through the birth of Isaac. These were thirteen long years of waiting and wondering if God had forgotten … but God’s direction and timing is always perfect and always with a purpose. With Abraham one hundred years old and Sarah ninety, the birth of Isaac left no doubt that God was in complete control and guiding the events in Abraham’s life.

In a very real sense, we are foreigners in this place and time; “Aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). We will never understand how all the pieces fit together until we stand before the Creator of the universe. Until then, we must continue to love and worship Him with all our heart. We must continue to seek His face and ask His guidance for every step. We must continue to follow His direction and patiently trust His timing.

I must have received this article in 2009 when I started trying to have a baby. The story of Abraham and Sarah reappeared to me the day I miscarried. And today as I struggle with the thought of infertility, God reaffirmed this story and reassured His promise that I will have children.

I have considered adoption previously, but the thought of adoption did not give me peace. In fact, if I had adopted, I would be interfering in God’s plans. Therefore, I vow to love Him, trust Him, and believe Him with all my heart, soul and mind. Pray with me as I made this vow to the Lord. May  I seek Him in the midst of troubles and not grow weary. And may I pay undivided attention to His plans for me in my journey of trying to conceive.

My 31 days of prayer during infertility (Day 23)

DAY 23 – PRAY TO OBEY

Psalm 51:12Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Obedience – is another tall calling for me. My stubbornness often kept me far from being the obedient child God desires of me. But obedience is the only way to life. The more I get frustrated and anxious in getting something that I want, the further I drift from His presence. I have to remember that everything on earth comes from Him, and He is the giver of life. No matter how anxious I am in having a child, the Lord determines my fate and therefore, takes hold of His plans for me.

Exodus 29:46

They will know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

If I could bring my soul to His obedience, I would have been a very peaceful and joyful person. But sadly, I am totally the opposite of what it means to be walking with joy in His presence. My commotion is exactly the same as those Jesus felt when he was overwhelmed with the thought of his impending death. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death …My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39). Whenever I pray for God’s will to be done for me, that is His fertility plans for me, my soul gives way and I feel a deep burden in me to obey. Truly it is that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. However, Jesus has also said so that the Spirit is often willing to obey, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Oftentimes I fall into the trap of self-condemnation and it becomes worse during the time of the month. It brings me further down the pit of despair till there is no hope of living for me. And God’s love is the only thing that kept me alive till this day.

Hence, yielding to God’s word and truth, is the way of life. May we bear fruit as we obey God in this journey of infertility and be strong. Psalm 31:24Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Proverbs 8:17-21

17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
    what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
    and making their treasuries full.

My 31 days of prayer during infertility (Day 22)

DAY 22 – PRAY FOR GOD’S GLORY

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deed and glorify your Father in heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Psalm 113:9

He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

What thing I know is that my infertility is meant to glorify God. How can this be, I don’t know, only God knows! I wish I have all the answers to my infertility, but somehow God keeps them all and will reveal to me in His time. My task of trusting God has become harder than I can ever imagine. But to trust the Lord is all I could do for now. Each day my head is spinning with lies Satan implants in me – that I will be a lonely person without a child and without friends in this world. It has caused me so much distress and anxiety that I have driven most of my close friends away. I’ve transformed into a horrifying monster that scares even myself. My husband had to endure all the commotions that I go through, and I am very thankful for him. The Lord may not have given me a child, but He has indeed blessed me with a kind, loving and supportive husband who never gives up on me. I am also thankful for the Lord has not given up on me. Though I may have felt His presence at a distance, but He has always been near.

Philippians 4:5-7

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.”

Psalm 31:9-12; 14-18

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
16 Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
17 Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

My 31 days of prayer during infertility (Day 21)

DAY 21 – PRAY FOR TRUST

Psalm 37:5 Commit everything you do to the Lord; trust Him and He will help you.

Psalm 62:8

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God is pure;  He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.

Trust …. is something I have always struggled with, and my struggles become more intense as I strive to trust the Lord during my infertility.

The Chinese New Year has finally arrived. It is the time that I dread most every year, especially when I am now without a child. Every year when I distribute ang pows (red packets) to my relatives’ and friends’ children, I would feel a strong pinch in my heart that aches beyond understanding. It is not about the money in those red packets, it is feeling left out. This year’s Chinese New Year was the most dreadful year I have ever been through. I thought about my baby whom I’ve lost last year and wishing very much he/she is around to celebrate Chinese New Year with us. I cried desperately to the Lord to ease my pain and make haste with His blessing for me. Somehow, I managed to survive this festive season, thanks to God.

I always wondered why am I the one ‘chosen’ among my friends and family members to go through infertility. And these are the verses that comforted me:

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

1 John 3:1-2

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Colossians 3:12-13

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Exodus 23:20-22;25-26

20 “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. 22 But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

25 “So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. 26 No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

Romans 10:10-12

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

Ephesians 3:13-20

13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. AMEN

Hebrews 3:14For we have become partakers of Christ if we both hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end …

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seenyou love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

 

This is my prayer:

Dear Lord, forgive me if I have not trusted you enough, if I have trusted in my own strength and abilities to deliver myself from infertility. You are the giver of life, and for that I ought to trust you. My flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing. Help me, Lord, during this time of trial where my faith has been tested and I have grown increasingly weak from all the despair that Satan has tempted me with. I submit my all unto Your hands and may you show me the way everlasting. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

My 31 days of prayer during infertility (Day 20)

DAY 20 – PRAY FOR YOUR FUTURE CHILDREN

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my spirit on your descendants, and my blessings on your children.

How majestic and wonderful are these promises from the Lord. I did not see and feel the power of this verse spoken to me after I read it the second time! I have never thought of praying for my ‘children’ who do not exist. But the author gave me this idea and it sounds brilliant and I said to myself after that, ‘why not?’ After all, God knows us and I believe, must have also prayed for us, before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Matthew 19:14-15

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

As a former Sunday School teacher, I came across this verse several times, reminding me of our duties – to teach the way of the Lord to the young children I taught at church. Therefore, as future mom-to-be (with God’s blessing of course), I ought to also channel this same responsibility to my own children, to teach them and guide them according to the word of God.

My 31 days of prayer during infertility (Day 19)

DAY 19 – PRAY FOR WISE DECISIONS

When I read today’s devotion, I wondered what kind of decisions that I need to be wise about? Then I realized that there were two things that I needed to make decisions on – to stop my treatment and to opt for adoption.

These are two major decisions and I have to surrender them to the Lord. I recall how Sarah resorted to a shortcut to have a child and it has brought disaster to the nation to this very day. If she had waited, the wars, catastrophes we suffer from, may never exist. Adopting is a huge responsibility. I had thoughts of that after a persistent thought that I would never once again be pregnant in this lifetime. But then I also asked myself the question – “will I love the child as my own?” This will destroy the child’s future forever and I don’t want to do that.

Also, we have been seeking treatment for a year and have spent a huge amount of money on this treatment. At the end of the day, I don’t know if it is ever going to be successful. But God has led me to this doctor in the first place. I am not sure if I want to give up now. I am confused. I really want to speed things up, but that is not what God has planned for me. If I speed up my chances of having a child, I may end up making the same mistake Sarah made.

This verse says it all.

Proverbs 19:2Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.

So I think for now, I will continue praying and wait upon the Lord. He has heard my cry .. I know it.

Exodus 21:23 – … and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

Psalm 29:1-2;11

Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

11 The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.