My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
If you’ve been following The Fruitful Hollow for a while, you may have noticed that a theme keeps reappearing throughout our blogs: spiritual warfare. Carrying the cross of infertility often lends itself to an intense battle within ourselves. It’s a battle of good versus evil, light versus dark, and truth versus lies. This internal battle is often due to spiritual attacks or pressures, and we must be vigilant about safeguarding ourselves against them.
Walking through the Lenten season, I was struck by the amount of spiritual warfare Christ encountered even on the cross. In the moments where it seemed that evil had overcome good and “darkness fell over the whole land” (Luke 23:44) the lies came pouring in and thoughts were suggested to potentially further remove Jesus from His Father. These lies, which we will examine closer in just a moment, surprised me because I realized that they are the same lies that I’ve battled with while I feel like I’ve been nailed to the cross of infertility.
“And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’” (Luke 23:35)
A nasty lie that Satan has tried to use over and over again in my spiritual battle has been something along these lines: “God blesses couples who don't deserve to have children with a baby. Meanwhile here you are, His devoted one, you’re cursed.” Satan often goes into details and I’ve noticed that there are triggers which make this lie ring out so loud it’s hard to block out. Recently it has been triggered when I read through the stories of children who are being placed for adoption and the dire circumstances that they have experienced. Why, God? Why did You give that mother the gift of life when she abused it? Why did You give that couple yet another kid when I know that they are not being raised to know and love You?
“Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’” (Mark 15:29-30)
“The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself’. Now there was also an inscription above him, ‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.’ One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’” (Luke 23:36-39)
As Catholics, we know there are infertility “treatments” that go directly against Church teaching. Women often find themselves in a sticky situation when family members or friends ask the question; “Why don’t you just do IVF?” You may have heard the lie, “God created IVF and science! Why won’t you just accept this gift? Come down from the cross of infertility and save yourself! Are babies conceived through IVF not also a blessing from God?”
“In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God”’.” (Matthew 27:41-43)
“Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” (Mark 15:32)
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?’, that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46)
Perhaps the hardest challenge for me to wrestle with during a spiritual battle is this: “God, You are capable of miracles. You can snap Your fingers and my infertility can be gone instantly. Why have You chosen not to work a miracle for me? Then I will know and exclaim that You are the Son of God! Let me be a testament to You! My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
For those who lose a child, this internal battle may look like: “God, You are capable of miracles! You can snap Your fingers and my body could be healed or this baby could be saved. Why have You chosen not to work a miracle for me? Why do You refuse to let me carry a baby to term? Why did You not save my child? Why do You bring death to me? My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Spiritual warfare is quite literally a glimpse into hell. It’s painful, nasty and exhausting. When you’re in the midst of the spiritual battle with the Father of Lies, look to Christ hanging on the cross. He did not respond directly to these spiritual attacks, but completely surrendered to the will of his father. He did not choose to question His Father, but instead offered Himself up to the truth. When you’re in the midst of spiritual battle, be an imitator of Christ. In a loud voice (yes, out loud) repeat the final prayer of Christ, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
Take a moment and reflect on this final prayer from the cross from each Gospel. Do not let the darkness win, (plot twist) because Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father: the tomb is empty!
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” (Matthew 27:50)
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.” (Mark 15:37)
“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ and he bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)