A Hope Deferred

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38 weeks, 6 days.

I’ve never been pregnant this long. I didn’t expect to be pregnant this long. And that’s what it all comes down to: experience and expectation.

My experience with pregnancy has told me that I should have a newborn at this point. The sleepless nights I’m experiencing should be due to middle of the night feedings instead of frequent trips to the restroom. The aches and pains should be those of recent delivery and not ceaseless contractions.

Experience and expectation have let me down. I’m left now, floating along, knowing that the outcome will be the same but somehow different.

Six days might not seem like a lot of difference to some, but each one has passed with a thud for me. Each day is full of moments that cause me to think, “Is that a sign that it’s time? Is something wrong? Should I be doing more to make it happen?”

Not only am I left with a sense of frustration that things haven’t worked out how I thought they would, I somehow feel like a failure. Like if I would have tried harder my experience and expectations would have been realized.

Something inside me whispers that this has to do with more than my eagerness to see Baby #4 and be done with the discomfort of pregnancy…

Heartsick

We all have hopes of what God will do in our life. Many times these hopes and dreams are based on our previous experience of God and expectations of what He will do in our future. I had hopes of seeing my newborn son by now. I have other hopes though, relating to the future of my marriage, my ministry, my children’s lives and more. God doesn’t always play by our rules, in our timeframe, according to our expectations.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. ~ Prov 13:12

That word deferred, it means in Hebrew to draw out, prolong, continue or to drag along. Here we go, trudging along our way, dragging our little bag of hopes behind us. It can weigh you down, wear on your spirit and weaken your heart.

As silly as it sounds, I sometimes have the thought that Baby #4 might never come out. What if he stayed in there forever? Logically I know that this can’t happen, but there are moments when I feel that this is how it will be for eternity.

How much easier is it to believe that about other hopes we carry? My spouse will never change. That career I seek will never come. The spiritual growth I desire will never reach fruition in me. People laugh at me when I say I’m stuck in the Never-ending Pregnancy, but how many people do we know who feel the same way about an area of their life? We don’t laugh at them because we have those same fears.

How Long, Oh Lord?

David had those fears. In the Psalms there are numerous times where he cries out to God in frustration:

About physical needs:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; heal me, Oh Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; but You, O Lord, “How long?” ~ Ps 6:2-3

About spiritual needs:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all day long? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? ~ Ps 13:1-2

About relational needs:

Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, my only life from the lions. ~ Ps 35:17

Just like a child on a car trip with a parent, David wasn’t afraid to ask God, “How much longer? Are we there yet?”

Eliphaz, Bildad & Zophar

It’s interesting the reactions people have when we voice our frustrations. Job was met with various reactions from his friends. Eliphaz told him that the innocent do not suffer and God is just. Bildad said God rewards the good. Zophar chose to rebuke Job for his words of frustration.

Some people feel it’s their duty to question my desires and impatience: “Don’t you want him to be healthy? You’re not even at your due date yet.” It’s like my eagerness to meet my son and be done with pregnancy offends them. This same reaction occurs with other hopes: “Don’t you want God’s timing and not your own? You should only desire His will for your life.”

Some offer advice and their own experience: “Drink castor oil. Eat spicy food. Walk. This worked for me.” Many times these people are being helpful, but sometimes it causes me to feel like it’s a lack of trying on my part that has kept me in my present condition. Again, this correlates: “Are you praying about it? Fasting? Have you sought out God’s will for the situation?” All helpful suggestions, but usually when someone is heartsick they’ve tried everything they can.

Some remind me that it could be worse: “At least you can get pregnant. Some woman would love to be feeling your discomfort.” I’m not negating the fact that I am blessed to be able to carry a healthy baby to term. However, the reminder that others have it worse than I do is only meant to make me feel guilty. There’s always someone who has it worse, that doesn’t mean that we’ll never get frustrated with our relationships, job, or situation in life.

Lastly, some express sympathy: “I’ve been there. This is a hard time. You’ll get through it. Hang in there.” These words have been the most comforting to me. I’m not alone. I can make it through.

We’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know that I’ve been an Eliphaz, Bildad and even Zophar to others going through a period of waiting. I’ve criticized, I’ve advised, and I’ve rebuked.

As well-meaning as my intentions were in my responses, I hope that in the future I default more to being what Job’s friends weren’t: an encourager.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

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12 thoughts on “A Hope Deferred

    • Thanks Kelly! I remember when you were here with your son. :) It seems so short ago. Haha! It’s really all about perspective I guess.

  1. Melissa, praying he makes his appearance VERY soon and watching for the FB announcement! Have you picked a name out yet?

    While our situations are different, I can really relate to what you wrote about expectations:

    “Not only am I left with a sense of frustration that things haven’t worked out how I thought they would, I somehow feel like a failure. Like if I would have tried harder my experience and expectations would have been realized…. We all have hopes of what God will do in our life. Many times these hopes and dreams are based on our previous experience of God and expectations of what He will do in our future. I had hopes of seeing my newborn son by now. I have other hopes though, relating to the future of my marriage, my ministry, my children’s lives and more. God doesn’t always play by our rules, in our timeframe, according to our expectations.”

    It’s hard when our expectations — regardless of the situation — aren’t met. Thanks for the honesty and encouragement in this area.

    Love you!

    • Ashleigh,
      What’s been so interesting to me about this pregnancy is how much God is showing me about myself & my walk with Him through it. Our situations are different, but still similar in that things are not going according to our plans. And I’m sure you’ve dealt with your own various responses to your circumstances.
      We don’t have a definite name yet, I think it’s gonna have to wait till we see him. :)
      Love you & continuing to pray for you guys!!

      • Melissa, I hear you on that! I told Ted the other night that I’m not happy we lost Noah. It’s not good, nor will I ever call it that. But I am amazed and glad about some of the things God is teaching me, and how He’s changing me and drawing me closer to Him. While I’ve experienced the depths of sorrow and grief as I never have before, I’ve also felt joy, peace, and strength like never before.

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