When I married my wife at 25 years old, I already knew she loved kids. She just loves children.
I, on the other hand, was neutral about this matter. Until two years later, while watching a diaper commercial, the desire to have children just clicked into place. I suddenly wanted children! That’s the power of TV.
And so we started trying for kids, but nothing happened for six months. We shared our concerns with our cell group and mentors, and asked them to pray with us. Then we visited the doctor for a medical checkup and the report showed that we were both fine. So we kept on trying.
But as the months turned into years, it started to sink in. And this was after trying everything – going from gynaecologist to gynaecologist, this TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor to that TCM doctor… Just about anything people suggested, we tried.
Over a decade later, we were still trying.
People came to us saying we “must have faith” and maybe we were not getting our prayers answered because we “did not have faith”. And so I mustered as much faith as I could to believe our prayers would be answered, but each time we failed, it hit me in my core belief.
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)
Why was my experience so different? Was God listening to my prayers?
This started the cycle of hope and disappointment. Over and over. Hope itself became burdensome because the more I hoped, the more hurt and disappointed I was. But without hope, how could anyone carry on?
For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). If I lost hope, I would lose faith. But the more I hoped, the more pain I felt when things failed.
A few years later, after consulting with our mentors, leaders and friends, we decided to go for IVF treatment. I remember our case counsellor preparing us for the worst, telling us that we had to be mentally prepared for the pain of failure.
In my mind I knew faith wasn’t about hoping for the best but expecting the worst, so I chose to believe the best. People were praying for us. A friend overseas even dropped us a message, saying she dreamt that my wife was pregnant. She did not even know about the IVF. Our faith was in a good place.
But two weeks later, we were told that our first IVF attempt had failed. We should have listened to the counsellor, I thought. Like she had said, IVF failures are crushing. It was truly another level of disappointment.
We picked ourselves up, knowing we had two more tries. But the next one failed too. That left us with one final try. So with great anticipation, we went for our final procedure.
And we failed again.
That day, I understood why Job could not speak in his anguish because I could not speak for a day. Sadness grips you like a vice. It felt like someone had dug out my heart and thrown it away. The pain was almost unbearable.
I thought again about Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” “Why is my experience so far from your Word?” I asked God.
This round of heartbreak was the final straw – my wife and I walked away from all kinds of treatment from then on. There was only so much disappointment our hearts could take. No more treatments. We would just try on our own, await God’s time and just hope in Him.
Life went on. As a pastor, I had to continue preaching. But in the midst of all the pain I was dealing with, I remember there was one time during sermon preparation where I really felt that God was not with me. I prepared the best I could, but I could not shake the feeling.
“God,” I prayed. “Please show me something to encourage me. I just need to know You are with me.”
The day of preaching drew nearer, but He said nothing. No word, no sign, nothing.
Things did not go the way I had prayed, but God was with me.
On the day I was scheduled to preach, I went to office, printed my notes and was ready to head for service when one of the intercessory pastors came in. “Hey preacher,” she said. “Can I pray for you?”
When she laid hands on me, immediately she began to weep. I thought, maybe she saw how pathetic I was. Until she said: “Do you know what I’m seeing? I see a bright light, a dove on you…”
It meant so much to me. I really needed that. In the midst of the pain and defeat, God was with me. Things did not go the way I had prayed, but He was with me.
Two years later, something amazing happened. I came home from a church meeting late at night to find my wife sitting at the sofa, waiting for me.
“Look at the table,” was all she said. I looked, and there were three pregnancy test kits there. “So?” I asked. We had never needed these test kits before, so I didn’t know that two lines denote pregnancy!
After more than 10 years, my wife and I had finally conceived. Our gynaecologist also confirmed it: We were expecting our first child!
I was so happy I just could not contain it. I announced the good news to everyone who had been journeying with us. There was so much joy. After waiting and praying for so long, finally!
But on our third visit to the doctor, they discovered that something was wrong. Our baby was no longer growing. Soon after, my wife miscarried.
I could not believe it. There were no words. What could I say? Did I just lose my first baby?
The pain of losing the child you’ve waited for that long was unbelievable. In tears we prayed and released our baby to God, telling Him to take care of our child till we could meet again in Heaven. By this time, we knew that although we could not understand, all the more we had to trust Him.
A year passed and we discovered my wife was pregnant for the second time. But after a few weeks, just like the last time, we lost our second baby.
We knew the drill. We had our own little goodbye service at home, releasing our baby to God. Till we meet again.
A few months passed and yet again, she was pregnant. Was this hope? Should we rejoice? I wondered. This was the third time – what if our baby didn’t make it again? We had all kinds of questions. We had already lost two babies.
Around this time, a speaker with a strong prophetic gift had recently prayed for me and was surprised to discover that I did not have children because he saw a picture of me and my children. Was this it?
But by our third visit to the gynaecologist, we discovered we had miscarried again.
When bad things happen, we are tempted to blame God, but the only way forward is to trust in Him.
What was it that the speaker saw? Maybe it was a picture of me reuniting with my children in Heaven one day.
When bad things happen, we are tempted to blame God, but our journey has showed us that the only way forward is to trust in Him. This is the lesson etched into my heart with the passing of my three babies: Don’t blame the wrong person. Don’t blame the only person who can give you hope. Trust that He is good and He will see you through.
His love will always be enough.
A few months passed and my wife was pregnant again for the fourth time.
This time, we told God, if we are to keep this baby, let our first scan show our baby to be over eight weeks old. Because in the past, we had lost our babies around Week 8 of the pregnancy.
So we went for our first scan in October 2018, and it showed that our baby was at the 11.5 week mark.
When I saw him move in the scan, strong heartbeat and all, I was lost for words. I’ve learnt that extreme sadness or extreme happiness can make you speechless. Outside the clinic, my wife broke down.
On April 25, 2019, our son was born at 39 healthy weeks. After more than 10 years of marriage, my wife and I can finally celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for ourselves.
All I can say is: Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, Lord.
Are you going through a season of pain now? Is there a deep disappointment in your life? Will you trust in Jesus and hope in him?
Even when things don’t go well, will you still trust in Him?
A few years ago, soon after my wife and I had failed the final IVF, it was our church’s anniversary. Back then, the church leaders were required to sing on stage. While the worship pastor was leading us in “God is good”, I could not bring myself to sing it. My heart was in pieces from a journey of no answers, no results – only death and failure.
I asked God: “Do you have any idea how forsaken I feel now?”
But when it came to communion, and I held the bread and wine in my hands, I felt God reassuring me that Jesus too cried out when He was dying on the Cross: “My Lord, my Lord, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
It was the first time in eternity that God was forsaking God. He understood.
If you are feeling forsaken in this season, know that Jesus understands. You can bring your pain to him and hope in Him.
We featured Darren’s wife, Lijia, and her journey to motherhood back in 2017.
- Are you facing unanswered prayer? How have you dealt with this?
- How can we keep our faith even when there are no answers?
- What is hope to you? What is it anchored on?
- How has God been keeping you strong in this season?