Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Fool Yourself. Trust God.

Isn't it wonderful how we can be encouraged by Christians whom we have never met? I was speaking with a new friend on Sunday, and she was describing a difficulty that another of her friends was going through. At the end of the day, the question he always had to ask himself was, "Will you trust God?"

I have been thinking a lot about trusting God lately in the realm of having children. My husband and I are willing, though perhaps not trying to have kids. The responsibility is enormous and we certainly don't feel prepared to be parents, but I think that we are convinced we will never actually feel prepared. Therefore, I think (which often means worry) all the time about whether or not I might be pregnant. And in the moments of just thinking and not worrying, I have found several things that are extremely comforting to me.

For one, God is always good. He gives his children good gifts, and also the grace to deal with them when they seem like burdens.

For another, the idea that we can actually control conception and birth is a mere illusion. The more I read about natural family planning and about forms of birth control, absolutely NO method is failsafe. There must be well over 10 options that a couple could use to keep from conceiving a child. But absolutely every method has failed... multiple times. Even using "the pill" which often causes women to be infertile for up to twice the amount of time that they take it, some couples have children. This tells me that our yearning for power over this area of our lives is a futile struggle. God is all-powerful, in this area just as He is over the waves and the winds... and we are equally powerless.

I don't think that all forms of birth control are wrong--as long as they are only preventative and 0% abortive. However, I do think that most couple's reasons for using birth control are wrong. Convenience is so common in our society today that we often unconsciously make it an idol. We claim that it's important to have stability and security, when in reality, it's simply inconvenienct to have the responsibility of caring for another human being. It's perfectly reasonable that some use birth control for health reasons, or maybe are not strong enough to survive a birth... or any number of circumstances are possible. But the vast majority of couples dress up convenience, call it wisdom, and say that they simply "don't want kids." But their are two clear problems with this mindset.

The first problem is this: an unwillingness to bear children because it's inconvenient does not submit to God's design for us. There are many who would quibble with this, saying that timing matters and wisdom with finances and quality of life and so on. (These are usually matters of convenience, but are occasionally truly important considerations.) In any case, the Bible is quite clear that bearing children is not only good and one of God's greatest blessings, but is actually His general plan for all couples. I wouldn't at all say that it's His specific plan for couples because some couples cannot have children and He knows those circumstances, uses them, and works through them.

However, there are several passages that indicate that God's intention for a man and wife is to raise children up to serve God. This is a blessing for us, a provision against temptation, and also something that shows God's great glory to the world.

In Genesis 1:27-28, this oft-quoted passage reads, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" Here it seems that raising children is a part of God's purpose and plan for us from the first day of man's existence. And in Isaiah 54:2, God comforts single ladies, saying that their children will be more numerous than those of the married women. God provides for barren women and comforts them. But this passage shows just how natural and right it is for married couples to have children!

In first Timothy Paul writes of the young widows under Timothy's care. He warns them against enrolling in the church, and against them becoming idle gossips, saying, "I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander." Reading the entire chapter 5 of 1 Timothy, we find Paul addressing widows in particular and the role of the church in caring for them and particular sins to curb. But it's clear through life and history that these things that can be temptations for "young widows" are equally dangerous areas for "young singles."

And finally, in his second chapter, Malachi talks about how God is punishing Judah for coming to his altar expecting blessings when they had been unfaithful to their wives. Malachi 2:13-15 reads, "And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, 'Why does he not?' Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth." This moving passage underscores God's involvement in our marriages. He is witness to the covenant and He makes a man and wife one person with a "portion of the Spirit in their union." And what is God seeking? Godly offspring. This pleases God!

The main points I want to draw from these passages are that God has designed men and women to be in families and to raise children. This is (1) a great blessing for us not to be missed if at all possible. And (2) it is a built-in method for women in particular (who are expected and designed to be the manager inside the house) to avoid the temptations of idleness and gossip. Lastly, (3) God wants us to raise kids that honor Him.

But believe it or not, unwillingness to follow God's plan for marriage is not the only problem with saying, "I don't want kids." (Even if it is "just for now.") In considering the possibility of having children, it is so easy to worry. I think to myself, "Can we afford to take care of children? Can I discipline them well... when I feel so undisciplined in the things that I'm supposed to do? I'm so forgetful--will I be able to make a home for them that is safe?" And on and on and on. And then a little question will rise in me. "Will you trust God?" When I came to realize that we ultimately could not control whether or not we became pregnant, I realized that God could! (and does!) I think of a few encouraging Scripture passages. "God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory." (Phil 4:19) And Matthew 6:31-33 "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Saying "I don't want kids right now" for the sole purpose of convenience is to spit at God, saying that He has not or could not earn your trust. It says, "God doesn't know my needs or care about them. He isn't good and He doesn't know best, and it's up to me to look out for my best interest and make the best decisions I can." Don't we know that God's foolishness is wiser than a man's wisdom? Don't we know that God has at his ready grasp unfathomable blessings to bestow? Our best plans for ourselves could not possibly hold a candle to the wonders and excitement and fulfillment to be found in God's plan. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that we're "preparing" or "waiting for a better time." God's timing is not ours, and it's unpredictable and surprising. Don't be afraid to trust God. He loves us and has always proved himself trustworthy. We can't possibly give Him more trust than He has already earned.

So when I think about the possibility of being pregnant and fear starts to rise in me, I remind myself that God is good all the time. And I say (sometimes aloud to myself), "If God gives us children early, we will love them and praise him for the provision He'll bring. If he never gives them, we will love each other and praise God for His provision that he has already brought and will continue to bring." And what an incredibly comforting thought it is to know that God is in control, and as long as we're willing to receive what He has to give us, we can't possible miss out on the fun adventures to be found in His will!

No comments:

Post a Comment