Last summer, on our last night in Adacar, Uganda, we broke into teams to plan out a ton of fun for the kids at the CarePoint. One team worked on songs with lots of fabulous hand motions (think “arky, arky”), one team came up with field games, and one team scoured the Bible for quiz questions. After an entire week in the field together, we were completely wacky at that point in the evening, and one person (I won’t name names!), while hunting for Bible questions, started reading Numbers 22 out loud. It’s about a man and his donkey, but if you’re like me, a redeemed, recovered potty-mouth who jumps at any chance to bust out a guilt-free swear, read it in the King James Version. It also helps if you’re completely juvenile. Balaam’s ass. He spends half the chapter talking to his ass. He also rode his ass, saddled his ass, and even smote his ass, several times. I’m not gonna lie. Tears, rolling down my face. Crazy, snort-laughing, crying mzungu. I’ve been reading through the Bible start to finish and recently hit Numbers and that wacky donkey again. I can’t handle it. It’s a bizarre story, even if it were a horse or a cow, but throw in ass, and I’m done. I love the Bible so much.
So, I have a point. I am nearing the end of Kelly Minter’s wonderful study on Nehemiah and have fallen in love with this amazing treasure of a book nestled in the heart of the Old Testament. Something she said in the video that we watched last week has really resonated with me. Nehemiah 13 talks about how the Moabites and Ammonites hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but God turned the curse into a blessing. Kelly backed up to Deuteronomy 23:5, which also references Balaam and says, “However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”
In my notes, I jotted down “INFERTILITY,” in all caps. What a curse that was for me. What a curse that is for so many people. While I was struggling to get pregnant for four years, if someone had told me that God was going to turn my infertility into a blessing, I would’ve probably kicked their donkey. In fact, many well-meaning people said all kinds of astonishing things during that time.
And yet. He has. While I will never, ever tell someone else that their infertility is a blessing, I now understand the blessing of MY infertility. I’ve discovered over the last half a year or so that I struggle with truly accepting that God loves me, that God could be pleased with me. I’m on a journey to reconcile what I know is true from the Bible with my feelings of unworthiness and imperfection. I’ve been underlining in my Bible the times when I see that God is pleased or loves, and Deuteronomy 23:5 felt like a God-sized hug from on high. He turned my curse into a blessing because He loves me. He could’ve left me barren, but He allowed me to have a son through in vitro. His grace covered me through medical decisions. He could’ve left me brokenhearted again after the next in vitro failed, but He healed my heart and led me gently toward adoption, because He loves me. And through adoption, oh adoption, how near and dear to His heart He has led me.
I was not someone who thought much about children at all, much less adoption, so for God to lead me through infertility, twice, to the awesome privilege of adoption…. The mystery of forming a family from continents and petri dishes. My children are walking miracles of cells and papers and doctors and social workers performing a beautiful dance, choreographed by God Himself. And all of it, from the ashes of infertility.
He turned my infertility into a savored pregnancy.
He turned my infertility into a wrinkled little preemie gift in my arms.
He turned my infertility into strength forged from lab rat years – a mama who can handle scores of needles without flinching.
He turned my infertility into a passion to see orphans know the love of Christ in loving homes.
He turned my infertility into a heart for adoption, not as a backup plan, but as The Plan, The Prize, The Jackpot.
He turned my infertility into joy, pure joy, because He loves me.
For some of you, maybe it’s infertility. Maybe this resonates, or maybe it’s the last thing you need to hear right now. I would’ve hated this blog post several years ago. And if you’ve tried everything and are in ashes still, I just…I ache for you, and I pray for God to heal your heart, as only He can. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. Maybe you can’t feel it right now. He loves you. He does. If I’ve become one of the voices adding to your hurt, please forgive me.
For many of you, it’s not infertility. There’s something else. Something else popped in your mind when you read “turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.” Some questions for pondering:
1. How have you been “cursed?” What’s that thing that you’ve struggled with in the past or are struggling with now that feels like a curse?
2. In what way did God turn it into a blessing? How did God take that awful curse and use it for good, to bless you, to bless others? If you’re still struggling, in what way could God turn this curse into a blessing? If you aren’t sure, ask Him. God, how do You want to turn this curse into a blessing?
3. Do you believe that God loves you? Taking my first hot shower in a week on our penultimate day in Uganda last summer, I sobbed into the steamy Lake Victoria water, “God, do You love me?” Immediately, my thoughts filled with “I DIED FOR YOU!” Because He loves me, because He loves me, He turned my curse into a blessing.
Application: Go smite an ass.*
(*No asses were smote in the making of this blog post.)