Kristen Clark never imagined that the first decade of her marriage would include 3 miscarriages, dozens of doctor visits, and the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Coming from a large family herself, she assumed having kids would be easy. But year after year she stared down at a negative pregnancy test. To this day, her life has not turned out the way she imagined. But she hasn’t lost hope. She documents her journey throughout the pages of her new book, Not Part of the Plan, where she beautifully says,“The valleys have been hard, but through it all God has helped me see that true happiness doesn’t come from getting the life I always dreamed of, but from trusting God with the life He has for me, and then believing that His plans truly are good.” As you wrestle with your own unfulfilled longings and unanswered prayers, Kristen wants you to know that you’re not alone. God sees your tears and wants to lead you to a place of true hope. I think you’ll find immense encouragement through her journey as you navigate the twists and turns of your own story. It’s a grace to welcome Kristen to the farm’s front porch today…
Standing in my bathroom on a warm April afternoon, I held the most unexpected news in my hands. I was pregnant. Against all odds, I had conceived again. After two miscarriages early in my marriage, I wondered if I would ever see those double blue lines. For six years I prayed for a baby. I was hopeful. But as each year slowly ticked by, my diagnosis of unexplained infertility loomed like a mysterious fog that wouldn’t lift.
But here I was.
I wanted to embrace the joy of this miraculous news, but I was deeply afraid to celebrate. I silently prayed, Please, God. Protect this little life inside of me.
The weeks slowly continued to tick by. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then I hit week eleven. I began to experience some light bleeding.
I scheduled an extra appointment with my doctor to check things out. My heart was torn between fear and hope as I walked into her office. Please, God. Please.
“The waiting forces us to look in the mirror and acknowledge that we’re not in control. “
My doctor greeted me warmly and reassured me that everything was probably fine. As she conducted the ultrasound, her demeanor suddenly changed. She got quiet as she observed the screen. Then, without looking at me, she softly said, “I’m so sorry, honey, but there’s no longer a heartbeat.”
Her words stabbed me in the chest. Lying on my back, I stared at the ceiling in silence, gripping my husband’s hand. Silent tears streamed down my face. I had no words to speak. All I could do was cry.
My dreams, longings, and hopes of motherhood came crashing down around me, again.
As I types these words today, I still have yet to experience a healthy pregnancy. As I’ve wrestled with my own unfulfilled longings to get pregnant, I’ve asked God why so many times. I’ve cried and wondered why God would give this good gift to other women but not to me. I’ve prayed fervently and sincerely, wondering why God wasn’t answering my prayers. Why wasn’t He giving me what I so desperately wanted—especially something that He calls a good thing?
Unfulfilled longings are painfully hard to deal with. But I don’t have to tell you that. You’ve been there too. You’ve wrestled with your own unfulfilled longings and unanswered prayers. Maybe even right now. Just like me, you’ve poured out your heart to God.
God, please bring me a Godly husband.
God, please restore my broken marriage.
God, please heal my loved one who’s sick.
God, please open the door for a better job.
God, please give me a baby.
God, please help my friend to know you as their Savior.
God, please mend this strained relationship with my in-laws.
There’s that moment when we all feel desperate. We’re done waiting, and we just want what we want. We want to take control to make it happen. We’re weary and exhausted and wonder if God has completely forgotten us.
Friend, I’ve been there time and time again. It’s so hard. But here’s something I want you to consider. Maybe God is answering your prayers, He’s just not giving you the answer you desire. I used to think that God wasn’t answering my prayers when I didn’t get pregnant. But over the past decade God has helped me to see that He was answering my prayers all along. He just wasn’t saying “yes.”
It took me a while to catch on, but I eventually realized that God answers prayers in one of three ways:
- He says “yes” and gives me what I prayed for.
- He says “no” and closes the door in that area.
- He says “wait” and wants me to patiently wait for an answer down the road.
Out of those three options, I think the hardest one is “wait.”
You see, God cares deeply about our prayers and unfulfilled longings, but He is graciously calling us to pursue something better.
But here’s the truth. God knows the waiting is hard for us as humans. He knows it’s challenging for us. Ultimately, though, He knows it’s good for us. The waiting causes us to come face-to-face with our own inability to do anything about it. The waiting forces us to look in the mirror and acknowledge that we’re not in control. As I share in my book, Not Part of the Plan, “God knows that our greatest need isn’t to get what we want out of life but to get more God into our life.” And if we’re totally honest with ourselves, one of the best ways for us to see our need for Him is through the lens of our unfulfilled longings.”
You see, God cares deeply about our prayers and unfulfilled longings, but He is graciously calling us to pursue something better. Something more satisfying. Something eternal. He is calling us to find our true hope in Him alone. Our relationship with God is the deepest and truest need of our heart. It’s the only thing that can bring genuine satisfaction to our soul. Yes, our desires are great, but they shouldn’t be our greatest desire. Our Heavenly Father is lovingly and graciously pushing us toward true and lasting hope.
As women of faith, God is helping us see that our greatest need isn’t to get what we want, but to know Him more fully and to love Him more deeply. We will find peace in the midst of our desperate longings when we entrust them to our Heavenly Father. When we open our hands in surrender, and give our burdens to the One who holds all things together, we find peace. And we do this by faith.
By faith we trust that His timing is better than our own.
By faith we choose to believe that God knows best.
By faith we entrust our future to God and rest in His plan.
By faith we hold on to the promise that if we never get the things we’ve prayed for, God will still be enough.
Sister, there is so much God wants to do in your life during the waiting. There is so much wisdom to be gained in the wanting. I don’t know what’s weighing on your heart today, but I do know this: by faith, you can choose to put your trust in the one true God who is with you in the midst of your circumstances. Whether or not God ever gives you the longings of your heart, you can find lasting peace and fulfillment right now. Let’s run to the loving arms of our Savior together.
Kristen Clark is the author of five book, host of the popular podcast, The Girl Defined Show, and founder of Girl Defined Ministries. In a world that continues to shift further away from God’s design, she is passionate about linking arms with modern women and helping them discover God’s radical and beautiful design for femininity. Her first book, Girl Defined: Discovering God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity and Identity continues to resonate with women all around the world.
Her most recent book, Not Part of the Plan: Trusting God with the Twists and Turns of Your Story helps you know how to trust God right now thrive in your own story. In Not Part of the Plan, Kristen and co-author Bethany Beal open up their lives in the most raw and relatable way, sharing their own journeys through unexpected seasons of infertility, singleness, loss, and heartbreak. But in the midst of it all, they’ve learned that true hope doesn’t come from getting the life you always dreamed of but from trusting God with the life He has for you and believing that His plans truly are good.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]