Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. – James 1:17
The idea of God being a Good, Good Father, who delights in giving good gifts to His children has been present in my heart lately. But if every good thing and every perfect gift is from the Lord, then where do bad things and suffering come from?
A few months ago, I felt the Lord telling me that my body is healed and my womb is open – something very unlike me to think because I tend to think negatively about my infertility so as not to get my hopes up each month. But that thought wouldn’t go away. I also felt peace about pursuing fertility treatments, something we hadn’t felt comfortable doing in the past 6 years. So I decided to talk to my husband so he would know what had been on my heart. To my surprise, he too had been feeling peace about pursuing fertility treatments.
We felt like that was God’s way of confirming a path forward for us, so in faith we scheduled an appointment with a specialist for the following month. But about two weeks later, I discovered that I was pregnant.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. For over 6 years I had hoped and strained my eyes to see two lines on the pregnancy test, and there I stood, facing two lines that appeared immediately. As I shared the joyous news with my husband, I began to delicately weep (read: fits of sobs and snot caused by my overwhelming happiness in the moment).
I was so touched by this good gift that God had just given to us. But I also knew there was a chance this gift may not last. I don’t mean that in a negative, hopeless way, but more of an acknowledgement that miscarriages are a very real and regular loss that women experience, and that may have very well been the outcome of this pregnancy.
Because of that possible reality, I remember feeling incredible gratitude for this good gift today. Even if this pregnancy doesn’t go full-term, I am grateful for the good gift I’ve been given today and yesterday.
God didn’t have to give us the gift of natural conception. I had accepted that this may not be part of our story, and I trusted God’s plan and that He was still good if that was to be the case. But my Good, Good Father wanted to give a sweet gift to His daughter, and so He did that day.
Through our years of infertility, I struggled a lot with doubting God’s goodness and questioning His plan. I couldn’t understand how a loving God could withhold something as beautiful and good as the desire to have a child. The nerve He had to keep a baby from my womb!
But through my years of suffering, I also learned that the 100% truth is that God is always and only good.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. – James 1:13
Bad things, tragedy, pain, and suffering are inevitable circumstances that will befall human beings because we live in a broken world where Satan still has power. Christian or non-Christian, it is a certainty that you will experience some form of suffering.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. – 1 Peter 4:12-13
Admittedly, it can feel as though some people are lucky lottery winners who escape harsher forms of suffering, but ultimately it is not profitable to compare one’s journey to another’s. And chances are, people who you suspect of being lottery winners are simply wearing masks to avoid showing their real pain. Pain and suffering comes in all shapes and sizes, some very in-your-face and others that can be hidden for a while. But no one is immune to suffering.
So since we all suffer, how best to handle ourselves when we’re suffering? In short, depend on God.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8
The way I used to understand verses 6-8 was that someone who doubts that God can answer their prayer is basically not going to get the answers hoped for from their prayers, as if God will not fulfill your wish list if you doubt His ability to do so.
But now my understanding is a bit more straight-forward and literal: the person who doubts — lacks faith and dependence on the Lord — is exactly like the imagery described: tossed about by the wind and surf, unstable. In other words, when you choose to live independent of the Lord (thinking you know better to handle things yourself), your life will not look steady and your emotions will be all over the place on any given day.
Whereas trusting the Lord, and depending on Him for everything — His peace, His strength, His love, etc. — will keep you grounded in truth and a firm foundation that will help you ride out any storm you’re facing in life.