Faithful Obedience by Maddie Williams

Maddie is a new friend to me. In the last months I came to know her better and all I have for her is respect and a deep love. She is a kind and joyous woman with a compassionate heart that never gets tired of reaching out to serve and love others, -her acts of kindness have touched our lives, and even my grandson gets to be snuggled in a precious baby blanket she knitted for him!

I am so grateful to have her share today with us about her difficult journey with infertility and our faithful God who always walks with us.

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God’s Faithfulness in the Wilderness of Infertility
by Maddie Williams

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 8: 2-3

This verse came to mind when Becky asked me to write something about faithful obedience and how it has affected me. God required faithful obedience from the Israelites as they wandered in the desert, and whether they were faithfully obedient to God had massive consequences. Those who obeyed (Joshua and Caleb) were able to enter the promised land, but those who disobeyed were left in the wilderness, never to enter the land flowing with milk and honey.

Infertility has been the greatest test of my obedience thus far in life, and years in, I still have so much to learn about how I can faithfully obey God in this “wilderness.” God has not given us babies yet because He loves us too much to give them to us right now, and one of the testaments of that love is what He has taught me in this time of waiting. God has taught me that faithful obedience reaps great blessings.

You see, I live in a town of many babies. I mean, many, many babies. Many friends’ babies, many nieces and nephews, many church babies. Not long into dealing with infertility the temptation became great to see each of those babies as reminders of what I didn’t have. Little fingers whispered that God had blessed someone else, but not me. Little giggles hinted that God loved someone else, but not me. Little toes suggested that lucky is she, but woe is me. Several times I gave in to those whispers of sin, using the fact that others had what I did not have as an excuse to wallow in my own sadness and self-pity. The more I wallowed, the harder infertility got, the darker my wilderness grew. The more I envied others with their sweet little babies, the sadder my life became.

God placed me in a wilderness, but He also placed the nourishment I needed to make it to the promised land right in front of me. When the Israelites were in the wilderness God fed them with manna. It was exactly what they needed to sustain and nourish them. When God gives us trials of our own, He also provides us with manna-like mercies to sustain and nourish us through our wildernesses. Ironically, I found that my “manna” was spending time with my nieces, nephews, and friends’ babies. But just like the Israelites, I was tempted to grumble about my manna and resent it. My manna came with a catch. In order to be nourished by it, I had to faithfully obey God and thank Him for it before I could reap the harvest. It was only when I obediently thanked God for blessing others and not me with the gift of children that I was able to feast off that “manna.” It was only when I rid myself of envy and bitterness that I was able to reap the blessing that God had placed right in front of my blind eyes. Not only did the pain of infertility practically vanish, but I also found what is now the greatest joy in my life.

I had to bless God for the blessings of others. And the coolest thing? God taught me to bless Him for the blessings of others, especially the blessings that I myself was still waiting on. Once I submitted in obedience to Him, my wilderness faded away. Now it is one of my greatest joys when my friends have babies. Ironically, I feel like I have the easiest time glorifying God for those gifts. I feel like I should be the one giving the MOST glory to God when I see friends receive what I don’t have. For I know, in a unique way that only some know, just how precious and glorious and undeserved those blessings are. I know firsthand that those blessings aren’t an accident. They’re not a lucky coincidence. They’re not good timing. They’re not fertility treatments. Instead, they are God’s power. They are God’s glory. They are God’s magic. And I have a backstage pass to the magic show. I should be the one giving Him the most praise for those gifts. Through infertility, God has made it easy for me to see just how glorious those many, many babies are.

When I started to respond to these gifts with obedience, God dramatically changed my heart. Now when I see the many babies surrounding me, I no longer see what God has withheld from me. Instead I see what God can do, for it’s no harder for God to give them babies than to give me babies. Now when I have my nieces and nephews over for a date, I no longer see what I’m missing. Instead I see little shoes scattered across my entryway, a sight that brings me so much joy. Now when I get to babysit for my friends, I no longer feel empty afterwards. Instead, my heart is filled to the brim with all the snuggles I just stole. Little did I know that when I started faithfully obeying God, He would bless that obedience hundredfold. When I obediently died to sin, God took that death and resurrected it. He turned the very thing that once caused hopelessness into what is now my greatest source of hope and joy. He turned what was once a wilderness into a land flowing with milk and honey. Praise Him for the babies, the little hands and big giggles, the baby showers, and the snuggles that He has fed me with. They are my greatest joys every day. They are my manna that fills up my cup to overflowing. They are living and breathing reminders to taste and see that the Lord is so very good. As I have learned to faithfully obey God and bless Him for the blessings of others, my wilderness has faded and my emptiness has been filled with joy. God greatly blessed my little mustard seed of obedience.

When we faithfully obey God, we see God’s greatest blessings. If we faithfully follow God even when we are weak, God will always bless our obedience. Our death to sin will be resurrected and raised to new life. And that shouldn’t surprise us because that’s the way God’s world works. Out of defeat, God conquered the powers of death and hell. Out of pain, God healed the greatest of all wounds. Out of despair, God brought the greatest joy. And out of death, God gives us eternal life.

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Faithful Obedience by Kate Sumpter

God has ordained specific trials for each one of His children, but with each trial God has promised the grace and the strength needed to walk through it. In this series of Faithful Obedience we are being encouraged to remember that God’s children never walk through suffering in vain because God is faithful. And also, because we know that God is faithful, we can trust Him and respond in faithful obedience at every turn of the page.

Today, Kate Sumpter, a dear Sister in Christ who loves the Lord and His Word deeply, shares with us how she and her husband have walked from the day they heard the hard news of infertility to the joyous news of adoption -always taking the next step sustained by God’s faithfulness.

Read it, share it, be encouraged, and pray for Kate and her family.

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Waiting in Faithfulness

My husband and I are on an adoption waiting list for our second child. We also have a blonde headed six year old daughter whom we adopted as an infant. We’re so thankful to be parents as we were diagnosed with infertility not long into our marriage. Children are a joyful gift of marriage and the union of a man and woman used by God to create new life. And yet, Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Sin entered the world. And wombs are barren.

My husband and I are both from big families and our hope has always been to have many children. I remember having a discussion before we were married about raising kids and that we both thought adoption would be a really neat thing for us to pursue someday. I had watched my friend’s family adopt internationally and God’s goodness to them was evident. I saw adoption as a unique way for God to proclaim His glory.

Adoption is a visible reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness to us. He adopts each of us through the work of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:5-6 says He “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” He wills and predestined that we should be His children. Why? Because it gives Him good pleasure. Because He receives praise and glory. Our faithful response to His faithfulness is obedience, praise, and glory.

Faithfulness is practiced and taught. We start young with commands from our parents like make your bed. Brush your teeth. Say thank you. And we grow with each accomplishment into the next bigger task. Or the next harder task. Luke 16:10 reminds us that “he who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

I know that all things work together for good, for those that love God (Roman 8:28), even the hard diagnosis of infertility. God was so clear when He closed the door to pregnancy. Our doctor told us that there was nothing else that the medical world could do. Understanding that diagnosis was a time of grief for us, but God graciously brought us through the grief with His Word, especially in hymns and psalms. I had to curb my own desires and plans for my life to faithfully follow where the Lord was directing my steps (Prov 16:9). Contentment isn’t something I am naturally gifted in, but something that God clearly was teaching me through those years. The Lord strips away our own wants and desires to give us His best. The psalmist says “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) Our fallen flesh had failed and my heart grieved. Yet God sustained my joy and peace by providing Himself for my portion. I cannot lean on anything, but His sovereignty so that I can heartily say, “Not my will, but yours!”

God’s will is always faithful. We followed Him to adoption and for two years we prayed and waited. Then, after only two weeks of knowing she was coming, we received our daughter into our arms! She was a whirlwind gift and one of my favorites. And as she grew, we prayed many times for her to have siblings, but God always said wait. This fall, we saw Him clearly say yes as we pursued Him in our desire.

We prayed specifically for God to bless us with our needs and He answered abundantly. As we told our friends and family that we were hoping to adopt again, they offered to spread the word of our adoption and to help raise funds for us. In the opening of Psalm 67 we find that God blesses His people so that He may be glorified. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.“ His blessings are a magnification of who He is and it’s something the nations see. His blessings enable us to glorify Him. As we reached each fee along the process, we were met by God’s people abundantly giving as much as was needed. We were overwhelmed by His goodness through His people and His clear answer to our prayers. The blessings poured over us.

A clear example of this came on the last day of last year. We had reached the end of the paperwork in November and our adoption agency told us to finish raising all the funds needed before proceeding. My husband and I brought this to the Lord. We prayed regularly that we could raise the final funds of $10,000 by the end of December. What a hefty figure! But we faithfully followed the Lord knowing that He would provide for us and open the door or He would close the door and give us something else. He is faithful.

By the morning of Dec 31st we knew we were close, but still short by $1,670. But we’re never short on God’s faithful provision. He brought us to the last day of the month to answer our prayer. I received a message from a friend saying there was someone who wanted to donate anonymously whatever final amount was needed. That afternoon when I picked up a check with the exact amount I had tears in my eyes because here was tangible grace in my hand. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor 2:9) God loves to answer our prayers and He answered this specific prayer. We asked for a certain amount of money and we asked for a certain day. He gave both.

So my husband and I are on an adoption waiting list for our second child. And if we wait 3 months or 3 years, we know that God has prepared us for His good work. Being faithful to Him through obedience glorifies Him. This is our portion and it is a good pleasure to be His children. We know what faithfulness is because we have seen it. We have seen Him. And so we can wait because He is faithful.

Kate Sumpter

NOTE: You can find the index to the posts in this series here.