This word stings. Although I’ve used it to describe my condition, I hate it. I feared that using it would only re-affirm the thing which I’m praying will someday no longer be true.

Until one day I read this:

Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Isaiah 54:1

His words. Not mine. He called her the dreaded word she was hoping would only be a very small descriptor in a long list of positives about who she was. He pointed out the thing she hoped no one would notice, the wasteland she tried to plant flowers around and pretty-up.

Then it dawned on me. These words are infused with love. He told me everything I ever did. Whether to the nation of Israel (to whom these words were intended) or the woman who spends one week of the month re-visiting grief, He knows the darkest place.

And there is something so comforting about God’s ability to call a spade a spade and go to the place I hope no one ever notices.

My biggest fear at a baby shower is that someone might ask me to write down on a note-card advice about getting through labor and delivery. I’m good at lingering around the food and making small talk, but my blood pressure starts to rise when we all circle around the plump mom-to-be and watch her open gifts that elicit war stories I’m unacquainted with.

Oh please, no one notice me.

And should the host so graciously allow us to measure this poor woman’s belly with our toilet paper, I secretly decide that’s my time to bolt.

Barenness was not God’s intent for me. Sickness, depravity, loss … those are not things manufactured by a good and glorious God. Does He allow them? Are they still under His sovereign control? Does He use them?

Of course.

But I refuse to believe that God casts a powerless gaze on my broken wings while piously shrugging and saying: what will be, will be.

So month after month, when I re-visit that awful heartache of hope and promise and dreaming yet again put on hold, the loss I feel is not because I’m “missing out” on yet another season of great maternity clothes. It’s not because I’m not satisfied with the wonderful children God has given me (to the contrary, I sometimes wonder if I could ever love another as much as I love Eden and Caleb).

It’s not because I want to be able to stand in the circles at parties or after church and contribute to conversation on my own pre-natal adventures.

The loss I feel is because I am living the Fall.

We all do — I just so happen to have a condition which reminds me of it, month after month.

So when He calls out to Israel (and to me), “hey you, barren woman!” I feel a wave of relief. He already knows about what I want to hide. He’s acquainted with the shame. He feels my reproach.

And it’s not the end of the story.

He tells “her” (Israel in this case, or me) she will expand. He promises her reprieve. He gives reason to hope.

It would be a lot easier if I just succumbed to the notion that God intended things to be this way forever. He has blessed me so abundantly through my loss. I can’t imagine our home without Eden and Caleb and our dreams to adopt may never had come to fruition had we put them off until our biological lot was “full”. I can’t imagine my experience with Him had I not been walking with this limp. He has transformed me through this pain.

But it would be easy to stop here–at that–and trust in a false notion that God doesn’t Himself weep at my broken body, the tainted version of His image.

Hope is unwieldy. It’s inconvenient. Choosing to engage with it, over and over again, feels a bit like insanity.

But the thin line between insanity and faith is the one I am willing to risk, if it means I could touch, impact, even move His heart with my prayers. I want a miracle. Not for the show or the hype. But because the God I love is one of miracles.

And if I pray this prayer for healing until my death to no avail, I will know that I pleased God with my expectancy.

We are far too easily satisfied with our expectations of a “normal” God.