Editor’s note: This devotion is helpful for all of us in a season of waiting and hurting. But, notably, April 23-29 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Today, let’s pray for our sisters and daughters (and their husbands) who are enduring through infertility and miscarriage. If you know someone who is in the midst of infertility, share this devotional with them today.
How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? — Psalm 13:1
Anger is a messy feeling. It can become overwhelming and downright ugly in a split second. Infertility made me (Kelley) angry because of all the unknowns. As the heartache dragged on, I fixated on one question: How long must I wait for a child? I battled this thought to keep it from becoming a fear. But it was hard not to feel exasperated when I just wanted the agony to end.
Sometimes anger begins with shock. Brooke explained how going through miscarriage shook her to her core, leading her to question God’s very nature. “Suddenly, God felt unsafe, scary, and unpredictable. He was no longer trustworthy. Mentally, I ran from Him, closing off my heart to the One I felt had inflicted such pain. I walked around for weeks telling everyone that God was simply mean. What else could I conclude after so many miscarriages?”
Our attempts to get pregnant and carry a baby show us how little we can control. Trying to conceive is just that — trying. No matter how much we try, conception is still in the sovereignty of God’s will and creating hands. Therefore, it’s easy for our waiting to make us angry at God, ourselves, our bodies, our husbands, or other people. We long for an explanation for our brokenness, and we seek a target for our intense feelings.
Jaclyn, my friend and our Waiting in Hope community director, shared honestly about where she directed her anger: “I was angry with God. Angry at His chosen silence. Angry that in my greatest pain, God felt so far off. I wondered what the point of having a personal relationship with God was if He was going to be silent. Why wasn’t He making His comfort, His love, His goodness, and His peace tangible to me, His daughter, in my times of greatest need?”
The Source of Anger
Most of us feel guilty about being angry. We consider anger a destructive emotion that we shouldn’t have or express. However, anger isn’t necessarily a bad emotion. So let’s start by investigating the source of our anger.
- Anger can be holy and based on injustice.
Throughout the Bible, prophets expressed anger and lament over the injustice done to God’s people. Likewise, God stirs anger in us, often to prompt us to respond to an injustice or a need. Think about Jesus at the temple flipping tables because they were being used for unholy purposes (Matthew 21:12).
Infertility is a type of injustice. As we have seen, life is unfair due to the brokenness of this world. The sins of Adam and Eve brought all humans pain and hardship, including effects on our womanhood.
In Genesis 3:15–16, God said to the serpent (Satan), “‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed...’ To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children’” (NKJV).
- God knew Satan would hate women.
However, it’s essential to understand that one consequence of the fallen world is a tainted childbearing process. Intensified pain entered the story at the fall, but thankfully this wasn’t God’s original design or his end to this story or our story.
When our expectations are not met, it’s okay (and normal) to be disappointed. It leaves us confused as our questions of disbelief grow each day. We can’t possibly understand, make sense of, or control the instability around us. These unknowns can lead to festering anger. And through our questioning of these unknowns, our anger intensifies.
In my overwhelming anger, I wondered many times whether God saw me or cared, or, as Jaclyn questioned, was His silence His answer for my heart? Was He showing me I was alone even from Him?
- God has not left us, even when our emotions tell us otherwise.
The anger from our unmet expectations makes us believe we deserve different from what God is providing. Yet why do we think God owes us a life free of pain?
Isaiah 43:2 describes hardship as “when you pass through the waters,” “when you pass through the rivers,” and “when you walk through the fire.” Notice that it’s not if you will endure hardship, but when. The trials are stated as a given. Like Christ, we, too, will experience pain in this broken, sinful world. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we should expect pain and suffering in this world. Yet He is with us, overcoming the world and providing us peace.
The Direction of Anger
Years ago, Justin and I were experiencing frustrations and restless hearts regarding significant church situations, which led us to seek wise counsel. A trusted church pastor listened as we expressed our feelings, and he lovingly explained that God sometimes uses our frustrations and uneasiness to stir change in us.
He advised us to examine the cause of our feelings and warned us that anger could turn unholy if God is asking us to act and we do not. Wisdom is seeking God’s leading to adjust, jump, or change courses before our feelings lead to outbursts of anger aimed at the church, God, or others.
Anger often seeks a target. It’s an emotion that is directed toward someone or something. At some point, you’ve likely been angry at yourself, your body, your past, your future, your spouse, a friend, or a family member.
There is a safe direction for our anger, and that place is the Lord. Our Creator and King is good, strong, and faithful to handle everything, even anger. He allows us to express and vocalize our grief and frustration through the process of lament.
In Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, pastor and author Mark Vroegop describes how learning to lament involves a kind of complaining that is biblical. “Through godly complaint we are able to express our disappointment and move toward resolution. We complain on the basis of our belief in who God is and what he can do.”1
The books of Psalms and Lamentations give us examples for how to express lament. These prayers describe explosive feelings, even anger, that can lead us to God. Lament can become our pathway to God when life is hard or God feels far off. Most psalms of lament or sorrow start with anguish and build into confidence in God, resulting in praise toward Him.
But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me! — Psalm 66:19–20
We can practice lament by following this same pattern.
- Turn to God in prayer. Bring your complaints and circumstances to Him. Acknowledging that He is in control gives words to the tension between what we know about God and how we feel about Him.
- Ask God to act. Ask God boldly to act on your behalf, believing that He is God and has good purposes for your pain and needs.
- Choose to trust God. This is an active surrender of your life to God and the beginning of acceptance as you release control over your unknowns. When you surrender to God, your questions find a place to go. Author Elisabeth Elliot described how she came to this place of acceptance: “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust him. Because I know that what God wants for me is the very best.”2
Your anger could be the catalyst God uses to draw you closer to Him.
Lament Leads to Trust
In his laments of sorrow, David cried out,
How long, Lord? — Psalm 13:1
Lamenting gives us permission to feel sorrow, acknowledge the real emotions, and rant to the Lord. Yet it doesn’t stop there. Our protests are transformed into petitions and then praise.
These authentic and intimate prayers in pain lead to trust, a way to praise God through uncertainty and sorrow. The truth of who God is can reign when we honestly surrender and no longer pretend that everything is okay.
We can’t know how long, but God does.
He hasn’t forgotten you. How could He? You are His child, and that would be impossible for the God who sees and knows every last detail about you — from the number of hairs on your head to the dozens of pregnancy tests that made you burst into tears.
Though His face seems hidden, God has never left your side. Believe that the One who saved you will someday, somehow make this right too.
- Have you ever shared laments of sorrow like David: “How long, Lord?” Explain.
- Describe how you’ve been angry during your journey. Consider whether your anger has been directed at someone or something; then write about it.
- What do you think about the concept of directing your anger toward God? How can lamenting to God be helpful in your pain?
Pray this prayer of lament from Psalm 42:3–8 (ESV): Lord God, “my tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:... Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you... Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”
Start lamenting to God in your sadness, anger, and overflowing feelings. Yell out to Him in your car, on a run, or in the shower. Sometimes it’s helpful to hear your audible voice crying out to Him as David did in the psalms. Then ask God, “Speak to me; I need to hear from You. What do you say about my pain?” Be silent and listen for His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) to whisper to your heart. If this is new for you, start reading the psalms for examples.
- Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019), 44.
- Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering Is Never for Nothing (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2019), 54.
Excerpted with permission from Waiting in Hope by Kelley Ramsey and Jenn Hesse, copyright Kelley Ramsey and Jenn Hesse.
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Reach out to the Lord. Let Him hear it all — the anger, the heartbreak, the suffering, and the confusion. He will not turn His back on you! ~ Devotionals Daily