When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! (Psalm 84:6 New Living Translation)
I took my first step into the Valley of Weeping in 1994. My husband and I had been married two years. Neither of us was young. We had sown our oats and traveled the world. After two years of failing to conceive, we went to see my doctor. Tests revealed that we couldn’t have children naturally. Between us we did not have all the right bits. I wept on the shoulder of a friend. I couldn’t imagine life without children.
The Valley of Weeping was full of nettles and thorn bushes. With each new pregnancy announced in church, my heart was stung. With each new baby born, my soul was pierced. I scuffed my knees falling down in prayer, pleading for God to help me to rejoice with the new mothers and protect me from bitterness.
There was a path through the valley that some had traveled and looked like it would lead to the way out. We embarked upon a programme of fertility treatment. It wasn’t available in our local hospital, so each month we drove two hundred miles. I hated the journey. I came to know the twists in the road so well. I hated the procedure. It was undignified and uncomfortable. It sent me spinning on a rollercoaster of emotions. Life was lived in segments of twenty eight days. Sorrow was always there at the end.
There were thorns along that path too. They were sharp and barbed, words spoken by people who should have stayed silent. “If God wanted you to have children…,” or “You are as good as committing adultery, you know,” or “There must be un-confessed sin in your lives,” as they bounced their babies on their knees.
One day we thought we had left the valley. I was pregnant. The sun was so bright in those days and I thought I could see the end of the road. I read every magazine possible. I gave up drinking tea. I knitted baby cardigans.
The dead end of that particular path came twelve weeks into the pregnancy. I had begun to bleed. It was just light traces at first, so I sat down and put my feet up and rested. I talked to my child reassuring him that things would be fine. I was wrong. As the flow of blood became heavier, a scan revealed that I had lost my child. All I have left to remind me that there was something there is a fuzzy black and white picture of a tiny life from the hospital scanner from an earlier visit.
Another path was explored with more months of treatment and a more invasive procedure that was quite painful. My body didn’t want to co-operate, but I pictured the child in my arms and struggled on.
Another spring or summer had come to my valley. I was pregnant again. I hesitated to start knitting – just in case – but eventually I let my heart rejoice.
How quickly the clouds gathered. How loud the thunder rumbled. The landscape took on a familiar hue. At twelve weeks I miscarried. It was hard to work out which pain was hurting the most – the physical pain as my body expelled my second child, or the emotional pain of lost motherhood.
Like Job, something challenged me to curse God and die, but I fell on my face and asked him to look after my two boys. I never blamed God. I never blamed my husband. I never blamed myself. As I saw it, I just caught up in the crossfire. Bad things happen to good people, and when those bad things happen, what can anyone do but place the hurt and the tears into Jesus’ hands.
For a while we walked along the road of more treatment. I reached my fortieth birthday. I knew that I was young at heart and that the love I could offer had not diminished. The path simply no longer appealed. I didn’t want the metal probes, the syringes or the undignified position. I drew a line and said, “No more.”
The valley is reluctant to let go of its visitors. But one day the scenery changed.
Did I ever make it a place of refreshing springs? Through it all I made God my place of refreshing. His presence sustained me.
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