My wife (Jordan) and I got married in August of 2008, immediately after we graduated from college. We had no idea the journey that God would take us on together.
At the same time, I enrolled in seminary and pursued a call to ministry (that’s right, you are hearing from a Pastor!...to be fair though, I’m a Youth Pastor!) We decided to postpone growing our family until I finished school. In May of 2013 we began what we thought would be our quick journey to “parenthood” —how incredibly wrong we were!
During the first year of trying to conceive, I was able to remain optimistic month after disappointing month while Jordan felt the disappointment intensely. I remember her crying at night, “What’s wrong with me?”, “Why can’t I get pregnant?”, “What’s wrong with my body?”. I remember praying specifically, “God, whatever the issue is, please let it be with me, not Jordan.” I didn’t want her to put the blame on herself. I didn’t want her to feel the pain of being the “cause” of our infertility.
Within a year, I got what I had prayed for.
In May 2014, I found out that I have a rare condition called Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens. In short, I carry one of the Cystic Fibrosis genes which resulted in me being born with a naturally occurring vasectomy. We had no clue and were blindsided by this diagnosis. Our only option for conceiving biological children was to retrieve my healthy, but trapped sperm and then utilize IVF to get pregnant.
Side Note: As a pastor, I have concrete views about the sanctity of life and IVF as a controversial treatment. I am not here to convince you in either direction, just share about our journey.
After months and months of prayer, research, and more prayer, we decided to move forward with IVF with some ethical boundaries in mind.
Thus began the arduous three- year journey through IVF.
Earlier on I would quote scripture to Jordan: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”, or “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord”. I knew the theology. I knew the God that we served. He is good and He is in control… But as many know, infertility can take its toll. At this point, I began to feel the full effect of our suffering and how it was impacting my faith and hope in God.
You see, the “problem” may have been with me, but Jordan was the one having to take progesterone shots for months on end. Jordan had to put her body through physical pain and anguish to make it possible for us to conceive, not to mention the emotional toll it put on her. Instead of being able to encourage her this time, I internalized what she was going through, blaming myself and beating myself up.
“I am the cause of this,” I would tell myself. “Ryan, you are the reason Jordan is having to suffer and put herself through this”. Doubts, fears, and just pure anger began to fill my heart.
In the lowest of lows I found myself driving home from work on the highway, secretly wishing wondering about getting into a car accident to get in a car accident and die. This wasn’t an on-going thought, more of just a fleeting thought, but still. I shared this with Jordan (and she was of course super affirming and supportive), but more importantly, I actually began to share these thoughts and feelings with God. This was a turning point for me.
Psalm 73 is a psalm written by a righteous guy named Asaph. There, he is brutally honest with the Lord sharing about his frustration and anger. He looks at the world around him and sees that the righteous seem to suffer more than the wicked.
He opens up to God and shares his doubts and frustrations, even to the point of saying
“all in vain have I kept my heart clean” v.13,
In other words he is saying “God, what is the point of serving and following you?” (My paraphrasing). If this is my “reward” for trusting you, then what is the point?
Have any of you ever felt that? I sure did (and still do some times). But here is where it gets good! God doesn’t rebuke him or correct him. Instead, as Asaph pours out his heart, we see his posture change. In his openness to God, he is overwhelmed by a lack of understanding… “it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God” v. 16.
Asaph realizes in his raw vulnerability with God, that God is not absent. He is not far off, but closer than he could ever imagine. “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” v.23 He even admits that his flesh and his heart have failed him, but that that’s okay because “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” v.26 It was a reminder that even at my weakest in this journey, God is the source of strength.
God can handle your doubts and fears…
He wants you to run to him with your frustrations…
Ignoring or bottling them up won’t make them disappear. Bringing them into the light and sharing them with God allows us to begin to see that God is present in the midst of the pain and frustration, and more so, has you by His right hand and is gently leading you through this valley that is infertility.
To wait through this season in Hope, doesn’t always mean that we have the feeling of hope present. Often times the feeling of hope is nowhere to be found. But feeling alone doesn’t mean that we are alone. We cannot remain in our hurt, our loneliness, but rather actively run to the Lord, who is the object of our Hope. He is our Hope!
Infertility has taught Jordan and I to run to God with everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. To this day we have transferred a total of seven embryos (over the course of four transfers). God has graciously given us twin girls who are just over a year old now. Rylee and Harper are amazing and wonderful, but they are not our hope—our hope is the Lord.
Our infertility journey isn’t finished yet, as we have two more embryos we will transfer in the next year or so. We still swell with doubt and fear of the future and what the Lord has in store, but we know now to run to God with every single one of those doubts and fears.
Asaph ends his Psalm by saying “I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” I know he would encourage us with those same words. Make the Lord God your refuge, and you will someday get to tell of all his works!
Ryan Hamon - Youth Pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth Tx for 10 years. Earned an M.Div at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, husband to Jordan, father of twin girls Rylee and Harper.