Fight the Good Fight of Faith
March 2010 - May 2011
A Fasting Scripture for Infertility!
In March 2010, God impressed upon my heart to fast for 40 days and 40 nights and to pray for the desires of my heart (which is ultimately to have a baby). Since I had commitments during the week, I thought that I would fast on Saturdays. This transformed the fasting from 40 days and 40 nights to 40 weeks. Little did I realise (until it was pointed out by my husband) that 40 weeks is equivalent to a full-term pregnancy! In addition, when I counted the fasting, starting from 27th March 2010 (the time at which God spoke to me about fasting), 40 weeks would bring the fasting to the week just before Christmas (18th December 2010) which worked out quite well since I would rather not be fasting on Christmas day.
So, I began the long journey of fasting. It started being quite easy, but as the weeks went by, it started to get harder. Every time it got tough; God would show me a fasting scripture as if to spur me on to keep going. One day in May 2010, God showed me one such fasting scripture - Exodus 34:28-29 about Moses fasting for 40 days and 40 nights whilst he was with God on the top of Mount Sinai:
Exodus 34: 28-29
28Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.
I had read this many times before, so I was very familiar with it, but had never thought anything of it. That day, however, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about this scripture in a way that I had never ever experienced before. He turned this scripture about Moses into something very personal about me and my fertility problem. How could that ever be possible?? What has Moses got to do with my fertility problem? If there was ever a time of God speaking deep into the core of my heart, this was it! My heart had never been so astounded before as at this time. It blew me away!
The Holy Spirit pointed out to me that Moses's fasting of 40 days and 40 nights was equivalent to my fasting of 40 days and 40 nights (40 weeks), and like Moses, my face would also become radiant after the fasting. At first I didn't understand why I should be excited by this, so I asked God further - what did He mean by my face being radiant? Then He answered me with the following questions,
"Elma, under what circumstances would the face of a woman be radiant? Have you ever heard it said that the face of a pregnant woman glows in radiance?".
Then it suddenly hit me like a bomb, God was trying to tell me that after my 40 weeks of fasting, my face would be radiant / glowing because I would be pregnant! It was an astounding message, one that was beyond what I could ever have imagined! God told me not to tell anyone of this, not even to my husband, until the arrival of a pregnancy.
So, I fasted diligently and faithfully for 40 Saturdays, keeping this message close to my heart. There were times that I was ill, but I would still go on fasting, I did not want to miss even one. My fasting ended 18th December 2010, the week before Christmas, and I began to wait in anticipation for a pregnancy. Nothing happened. December 2010 went, January 2011 came and went, February 2011 also came and went. Still nothing happened. My hope began to fade. I decided that I would stop thinking about it, so I stopped counting the days of my cycle and to lose myself in my daily routine doing whatever I had to do. March 2011 came and went, and then April 2011 started.
The Promise coming to pass
One day in April I began to feel nauseous. I went to my calendar to count the days of my cycle to see whether my monthly period was late. Of course, I had not made any notes, so I didn't know when my last period was. So, I decided that I would do a home pregnancy test. I used the Clear Blue test, and the result was POSITIVE! I WAS PREGNANT!! I was so shocked and overwhelmed. I didn't know how many weeks pregnant I was since I did not keep a record of my cycle, but from my rough calculation I believe I would have been 6-7 weeks or so which meant that fertilisation would have taken place around the end of March, that’s March this year 2011 - exactly one year ago since I started my 40 weeks of fasting. Counting 40 weeks / 9 months on, the baby would have been due the week just before Christmas this year 2011, exactly one year ago that I would have finished my 40 weeks of fasting. This calculation blew me away – God was so precise with His dates and He always had a way of linking events in such a clever way.
© 2011 Photo by Elma Larsen
I had my first scan, and there I saw the sac where the foetus was growing. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was gleaming with life and with God's grace. I thanked God and praised Him every day of my pregnancy. I enjoyed every moment of it. The doctors have told me all these years that I have 0% chance of ever conceiving and God had come through for me. He has made what is impossible possible.
A Shattered Dream
Now parallel to this story, other things were happening in our lives. My husband and I had to change churches. We had only been in our new church for 2 weeks when I was approached by one of the elders to preach. I was shocked as I had not expected to preach there at all, after all hardly anyone knew me, but I took it as a sign from God that He wanted me to preach His Word in this new place. So I accepted, and the date of my preaching was to be on the 7th May 2011.
The pregnancy continued as I prepared for my sermon that May. I asked God what I should preach on and a little voice in my heart said,” Preach on the Baptism Stone”. The message of that sermon was to be about how God could turn the devastating news of 0% chance of having a baby into a time of hope for His Miracle because 0% had put me in the "miracle zone” (see My Baptism Stone, God's Promise).
Around a week before my sermon, I began to bleed. I started to feel anxious and concerned, but the bleeding was light and I was told that this can happen in a pregnancy and may not necessarily mean that something was wrong. So, I continued to pray and to believe. The bleeding continued and it became heavier and heavier and soon it became quite painful.
Then on the morning of May 7th around 5:00 AM, I woke up in a pool of blood. The little foetus had come out of me. I was miscarrying. Physically, I was in agony, I was in so much pain. Mentally I was devastated, in anguish – my dream of having a baby had shattered into a billion pieces. Spiritually, I was crushed – it felt like God had left me, abandoned me.
I felt so empty! The thought of having to preach in just a few hours' time was killing me, it was like torture! How could I preach the Word of God? How could I preach a positive message of hope and miracle, when I was experiencing the very opposite? I was experiencing failure and negativity in every possible realm – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms.
Image from pngegg.com
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith
My husband helped me to clean up the mess. I was very weak. Then just when I had a little strength to go to the bathroom, I began to feel sick and started to vomit uncontrollably. It was painful, so horrible! I found myself shivering and shaking, I felt like collapsing. I had no energy, no strength, I could hardly stand up. I looked at my watch and saw that it was now only 2 hours to the time of my preaching - how was I supposed to do this? I began to wish that I didn't have to preach. I just wanted to go back to bed and rest, but no, I had to go to church, I had to preach. It was too a short notice to cancel and moreover, I couldn’t let God and the people down.
I should have gone to hospital because miscarriage is a dangerous thing to happen to a woman (not least is the possibility of an infection), but all I could think of was God and preaching His Word. I had to fight the good fight of faith, I had to remain faithful to God. So, with the help of my husband, he got me dressed and ready for church. I arrived 10 mins before I was due to preach. The elders had started to worry, wondering where I was, but they were so glad to see me when I arrived. You could see the relief in their faces.
As I sat at the front behind the pulpit, waiting for the singing to finish and waiting for my turn to preach, I began to feel immense pain and began to feel weak again. Then I cried out to God silently in my heart like I had never cried before, "Lord, help me, give me the strength to preach Your Word! You know what is happening to my body and to my spirit – please help me. I can barely stand, I am bleeding so much blood, give me the strength I need". Although my suffering was nothing compared to what Jesus went through, I had a glimpse, a taste of what it must have been like for Him. Then a verse came to my mind:
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
I felt God’s strength starting to enter my spirit. The singing finished and now it was my turn to preach. It was the first time I had to preach in this church, all eyes were on me, they were wondering what kind of a preacher I would be, and what Word of God I would share. I made the effort to stand up and as soon as I took the microphone, the most amazing thing happened to me – the pain left me, the bleeding seemed to stop, and words started to well up inside of me wanting to burst out like a waterfall.
I began to speak, and I could not stop – the words just came – words that seem to just flow into and out of my mouth. Then I knew in my hearts of hearts, God had given me His strength and He was speaking through me. It was an amazing experience for me. I had never felt God working through me like this ever before. Then I felt God’s presence filling up the whole church – His presence was majestic and powerful. Everyone present that day could testify to this – that they felt something amazing. Their eyes were transfixed upon me. The whole place was so quiet, even the children were quiet and attentive, listening to every word that was coming out of my mouth - the words that I believe God was saying through me.
I found myself preaching profusely, barely looking at my notes. It just flowed and flowed until finally it came to a natural end. The sermon finished, and as I sat down, I felt like I had just run a marathon. I felt exhausted, I felt emotionally spent, I almost cried in happiness and sadness, all mixed together. I couldn’t really explain it, it was an amazing feeling – I guess that is what it's like when God has just used you when you were at your weakest.
As I stood at the door, everyone shook my hand and told me how the sermon had touched them. I knew then that the Holy Spirit, the presence of God had touched their hearts.
That day, the 7th of May, was an amazing day for me. Not only because so many people were touched by God, but that I too was touched by Him. We all felt His presence in ways that we have never felt before. It was an experience beyond words. All I could say is that it was worth my while to fight the good fight of faith – to turn up to church and chose to preach God’s Word despite my miscarriage. That day, God blessed me with many new friends, friends that would prove to be very significant in my life for the later part of this year 2011; friends whom I would never had met had I stayed in my old church. It appeared that leaving the old church was very much part of God's plans for me.
The Spiritual Warfare Continues ...
A few days after this amazing experience, I came back to my life routine where I was able to take the time to reflect on my pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. As with any woman who has been through a miscarriage – the question was “Why, why did the miscarriage happen?”. I could blame myself – maybe I did something wrong, ate the wrong food, drank the wrong drink? Maybe I went through too much stress? Maybe I didn't have enough faith to carry me through to full term pregnancy? But wait a minute - that was exactly what the devil wanted me to do, he wanted me to blame myself, condemn myself, make myself feel so bad and carry so much guilt around with me that I would come to hate myself, destroy myself, and destroy my hope in ever having a baby!
Then there was the other thing - I could blame God. I could ask why did He allow me to get pregnant only for me to miscarry the baby (especially with the dates that matched my 40 weeks of fasting)? Was He not in control? Was it a test from God? Was He such a cruel God as to test me in this area, when He knew that having a baby would mean so much to me? Surely if the pregnancy was from Him it would not have failed?
I could go on analysing the maybes and asking God the whys, and I could feel bitter and angry towards Him - but wait a minute – that was exactly what the devil wanted me to do, he wanted me to blame God, he wanted me to hate God for the miscarriage. The devil always likes to take advantage of such situations to ruin my relationship with God. But I love my God so much, how could I ever hate God or blame God for anything - when He had sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for me on the cross to pay for my sins?! The miscarriage is so trivial compared to what Jesus sacrificed for me, so I did not need to know why the miscarriage happened – it happened and so be it!
And so, as I continued to ponder on all the things that happened to me, I began to see so many positive things:
Firstly, I was pregnant naturally – this was against what the doctors have said. So, my pregnancy could only happen by the Grace of God. God had made what was impossible possible.
Secondly, having been pregnant had renewed my hope in that one day I could get pregnant again. So, God had enabled me to keep on going, to keep on hoping and not to give up.
Thirdly, even if the pregnancy didn't go to full term, I did have 8 weeks of it. 8 weeks of wonderful experience of what it was like to be an expectant mother. I cherished that experience, and I shall never forget it. It will be one of those precious memories that will stay with me forever. And I thank God for this experience.
As I continued to ponder, I clung onto what I knew the character of God to be – God always works for the good of those who love Him.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
So, whatever the true reason was behind my miscarriage (however negative and devastating it was for me) I will use it for good, I will not waste it. By persevering to preach that day, many people, including myself were able to experience the presence of God. I believe that had I not been in a miscarriage situation, it would have been just an ordinary sermon, an ordinary day. Furthermore, as you can see, behind this tragedy, God has helped me to find a beautiful message to give to you which is TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH!
The Final Message
Don’t give up, keep God first place in your life, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. When you are at your weakest, when things are at their hardest for you - that is when you will receive the greatest miracle of all, the miracle of experiencing His strength and His powerful presence. There is nothing like it in this world, so don’t ever lose heart in serving Him.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
Remember God is not just someone you pray to, someone you worship, and preach about, but He is someone to be experienced! So, let Him be the reason for your living, and you will experience Him. Jesus said in
....when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?
Will He find faith in you? Will He find you to be faithful at the time of His coming?
So, fight the good fight of faith, not just to experience God now, but also to be always ready for His coming.
© Elma Larsen. All rights reserved.