Daily Devotionals

June 29th, 2023

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

I am the fifth of six children. Both of my parents are the fifth of six children. Many of my aunts and uncles, cousins, and siblings are parents to lots and lots of children. Family reunions are packed. My immediate family has Christmas in a large lake house in order to fit everyone. My extended family meets in a barn the size of an airplane hangar for reunions. I’ve given up keeping track of the dozens of babies born each year and have resorted to calling everyone “bud.”

My family has been blessed with children. My wife and I have not. 

It didn’t take long after we were married in 2016 for relatives to start asking when we were planning on getting started. We’d go to the reunions and field questions about painting nurseries and moving into houses with more bedrooms, all while everyone else seemed to be having babies every year.

After a few years of trying we went to a fertility specialist. He was very optimistic. “You’ll be pregnant by Christmas!” he proclaimed the first time we met with him. We felt the enthusiasm and imagined how wonderful it would be to announce to the airplane hangar full of people that we, too, would soon have a little baby.

After several operations and a failed IVF transfer, my wife still wasn’t pregnant. The optimistic fertility specialist changed course dramatically and announced that he would be removing my wife’s ovaries, effectively ending any possibility of us ever having a child.

We were shocked, angry, and wracked with grief. My wife secluded herself as we faced an existential crisis. Who would we be if we weren’t going to be parents? Now every time we went to a family gathering and some tactless uncle asked when we were going to have kids, it was a dash of salt to an open wound. Every pregnancy announcement on social media seemed like an insult, like fate was taunting us with others’ happiness.

Even the words of comfort that were given by well-meaning friends were fraught with infuriating implications: “God’s plan…faith…trust…closes one door, opens another…” Were we laboratory rats in a divine maze? No, searching for meaning in suffering is an exercise in futility.

Suffering is inevitable. It is the curse of Adam.

Our infertility was a milestone because it was my first taste of the bitter wine that we all must drink. To live in Christ is to drink from His cup, the Son of suffering Himself. It is the only consolation that we have. 

Eventually my wife and I sought a second opinion and found another fertility specialist who assured us that her ovaries would not be removed, and that we could try again. But our renewed hope is not the milestone. Jesus promises his presence in our pain because pain is part of our mortality. He lived through great suffering and continues to bear our suffering alongside us. God is merciful not because he takes away our pain but because he feels it, too. 

I do not know whether or not we will ever have children, but I do know that Jesus feels the same anger and grief and desperation that we do. Our consolation is not in the miraculous, but in the gentle embrace of a fellow sufferer.

Written by Lucas Smith