Hope in the darkness
This blog post is adapted from a talk given at a retreat evening for women experiencing infertility and loss.
My name is Serenity Quesnelle. I am the outreach coordinator for The Fruitful Hollow, an international Catholic infertility resource. Leading up to this event, I’ve struggled with so much spiritual warfare, believing that my story shouldn’t be shared today but I refuse to fall into that lie. Public speaking is not something I normally do so when I was asked to speak, my initial response was to say no. It’s kind of intimidating and out of my comfort zone but I felt called to share God’s goodness the best way I can, which is by sharing my experience.
My husband Andrew and I know first-hand how quickly one can be consumed by darkness when you’re living through any form of loss. The constant heartache, the mental, physical and financial toll it takes on you are huge. I know what it’s like to fall into the idea that you’re not worthy of God’s love or His promises. But those are lies from the enemy. After two early losses and a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, we were told we would never be able to naturally conceive and carry a baby but in 2021, after complete surrender, we found out I was pregnant and in March 2022 I gave birth to our son Zachariah.
All of us here today come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences but two things I can almost guarantee are that we’re all Christians and, sadly, we’ve all lived in the depths of loss. That might be the loss of a child, the loss of the future we saw for ourselves or even the loss of the timeline we once had planned. One thing that I pray you haven’t lost is hope.
I often refer to carrying the cross of infertility as being “in the depths of infertility”. It’s just deep. Deep pain, deep sorrow, honestly it’s agony. And it’s hard to find a middle ground between acknowledging the grief and holding on to hope.
Hope has two definitions, the first being: “a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen”. The second is: “a feeling of trust”. While going through the agony of loss, those two meanings of hope sometimes become more and more distant from one another. In the depths of infertility or loss, that second definition of hope can waver, as the clouds of doubt, fear and sorrow begin to overwhelm us. In our faith, we are told to be fruitful and multiply, but it seems like that’s easier said than done for so many of us. All the same, we are all called to be fruitful.
So what happens when you’re not being fruitful in the way you’ve always hoped and planned for? We are each given unique gifts - fruits, so speak - and God is calling each of us to use them for the betterment of ourselves and for His glory. Have you stifled the fruit the Lord has given you because it’s not the fruit you desired? With or without a child, with or without a large family, wherever you are in life, you are called to be fruitful in the NOW - today. Some days, the fruit that you bear may be as simple as holding on to hope.
I invite you to pause for a moment… Close your eyes and picture being on a beach late at night, where the only light is from the moon and the stars. Notice the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and the light wind crossing the sand. It is one of the most peaceful things I have ever experienced. When I think of hope through darkness, I’m brought back to that place, that feeling. The feeling where an immense amount of darkness can exist, yet the small stars millions of miles away are able to provide a little light. A little hope.
Trusting in God means trusting that His will is greater for you than the plans you have for yourself, and surrendering to it. Take all of the things you feel - the anger, the disappointment, the hope, the grief - and place them at the feet of Jesus. Allow Him to comfort you in your suffering and bear fruit into your marriage.