Jennifer Larson reminds us in her reflection on “Advent and Barrenness” that the most important gift we receive from God is not children but the forgiveness of our sins:
Today, I underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy procedure in hopes of discovering the reason for my excruciating pelvic and back pain during my menstrual cycle, which is now occurring every other week. I recently met with my primary care physician and then an obgyn who both felt the pain may be caused by endometriosis. The good news is that [the procedure] may answer why we have yet to conceive.
At this point, we are not certain if we can conceive or not. We know my husband has a low sperm count, I have innumerable fibroids, and we’ve been trying for two years. However, we are hopeful.
The timing of this experience got me thinking…Not only does this surround Advent and ultimately Christmas, but it also follows the blessing of the birth of my niece, Clara, on December 7th. Sometimes, it helps to have these reminders to focus me on what I am so very grateful for.
Another recent blessing for us was our engagement this spring, the counseling we received from our pastor, the opportunity to live apart again prior to marriage, the gift of being forgiven, and the final culmination – our marriage. We repented and have been forgiven for living together prior to marriage. We are now able to focus on our marriage and our continued hope for a family with this peace. However, none of this would have been possible if Jesus had not been born. This is a time for preparation and celebration. I will take comfort in focusing on this and rejoicing in Christ’s birth.
The doctor met with me after the procedure to reveal that the cause of my pain was not endometriosis. Instead, I have a large fibroid that is fighting to win a size contest in comparison to my uterus. I have an appointment for December 29th to have it removed by a fertility specialist. Until then, I plan to pray for the courage to stay emotionally strong and to thank and praise God for one of the most important gifts one can receive – forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
(Let us pray…Heavenly Father, in this hour of anxiety we pray for Your divine presence and aid. As the time of Jennifer’s operation draws near, she needs a staff on which to lean. To whom shall she turn but to You, gracious Lord? You have created, redeemed, and sanctified her. She is Your baptized and beloved child in Christ. You will not forsake her as she cries to You for strength in her trouble and pain. We confess to You our unworthiness, our many weaknesses, and our transgressions. You mercifully forgive us for the sake of the sacrifice of Your dear Son, our precious Savior. Give wisdom and skill to the doctors and nurses, that all they do will bring about a speedy recovery for Jennifer in keeping with Your good, fatherly will. We commend her into Your hands. While she slumbers and sleeps, watch over her. Take every fear out of her heart. Comfort her with the assurance of her salvation through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and grant her a faith that clings only to Him, who is the great and eternal cure for all sin, sickness, and death. Your name we praise, O Lord of life and death. Hear our prayer for the sake of Your dear Son. Amen.*)
* The Lutheran Book of Prayer, 232-3.