When you’re navigating a season of closed doors, it’s hard to have hope. Every door of opportunity that closes feels like yet another letdown. If you’re really honest, every closed door feels like a letdown from the Lord.
The year 2016 was such a season for us. My husband and I were pursuing the possibility of having children, both biological and adoptive. Given our marrying later in life, we had our ages working against us. But we tried to have a biological child anyway. What happened, as a result, was a difficult season of infertility and loss. The door of having a biological child had closed.
Concurrently, we pursued domestic adoption. But the adoption agency we spoke with wanted us to wait until after we had finished walking through our season of infertility. (They had good reason. Both infertility and adoption are emotionally draining.) So after our season of infertility had ended, we reached out to that same adoption agency. However, they were going through a reevaluation time and were changing some of their policies. The result was yet another closed door.
After nearly a year of waiting, loss, and disappointment we were frustrated and grieved. All that we could see in front of us were closed doors. Hope was getting difficult to maintain.
During the 2nd millennium BC, a man from Ur and his wife had no reason to hope either. At ages of 75 and 65, respectively, Abram and Sarai were beyond childbearing years. But God gave a promise that Abram would have descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5).
So Abram believed God. Then a year passed, and another, and soon eleven years went by and Abram was now 86 years old. Sarai, still barren, proposed a solution common in that culture and time—a surrogate (Gen. 16:1–3).
Hagar the surrogate did bear Abram a son. But thirteen years later when Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared again and reiterated His promise of “countless descendants,” then changing Abram’s name to Abraham for he would be the “father of many nations” (Gen. 17:1–8). God explained that the son born to Abraham via Hagar was not the promise. But that Sarai, now to be called Sarah “mother of many nations,” would bear Abraham the promised son in one year’s time (Gen. 17:15–21).
Thus at the ages of 100 and 90 years old, Abraham and Sarah gave birth to the son God promised, Isaac (Gen. 21:1–5).
Abraham and Sarah waited twenty-five years for the fulfillment of God’s covenant to them. The apostle Paul, in the fourth chapter of Romans, commends Abraham for maintaining hope:
“…Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping… And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he bought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” (Rom. 4:17–22 NLT)
What is my point in sharing our story and Abraham’s story? Am I saying that because God gave Abraham and Sarah a child in their later years that God will give us (or anyone who struggles with infertility) a child, too? That God will open doors for us in the same way as he did for Abraham?
No, I am not saying that by any means. God’s promise to Abraham was a specific promise for a specific purpose—he would become the father of many descendants, descendants that ultimately led to the birth of Jesus the Messiah (Matt. 1:1).
My point is that from the perspective of the natural world, Abraham had no hope whatsoever. And from your current situation of closed doors, your perspective is probably the same.
But do you know what else is the same? The God that Abraham served is the same.
God can do whatever He desires to do, and Abraham believed that. God exists outside of time and he harnesses resources beyond the natural world. He closes doors, but he open doors, too. Abraham kept hoping, when he had no reason to hope—and you can, too—because God “creates new things out of nothing.” (Rom. 4:17–18).
Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life, and approximately 2,000 years later, God raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, back to life, to make us right with God. (Rom. 4:17, 24–25).
Going back to the beginning of my story, my husband and I had hoped for a biological child, but were met with a closed door. We had hoped for a domestically adopted newborn child (preferably Caucasian or Hispanic in keeping with our cultures), but were met with a closed door.
But two years later, in March of 2018, we brought our one-year-old Chinese son home from Mainland China. It was an unlikely journey of open doors—doors that only the Lord could have flung wide open. Looking back now, I can see that God had purpose for closing those other doors.
God does not specifically explain why He made Abraham and Sarah wait so long for the fulfillment of His promise. But chapters four and five of Romans give us a clue that it was for our benefit that He made them wait so long. God tested Abraham’s faith, yet Abraham believed and kept hoping—against all odds—and thus so can we. We have a God who promises hope in the here and now and ultimately, hope eternal. God, through Abraham, gave us Jesus.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1–2 NASB, emphasis mine).
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NLT, emphasis mine).
Abraham kept hoping for that open door, and God granted it according to his timing, his promise, and in his unexpected ways.
You might be staring at closed doors in this current season, however, as Helen Keller wrote, “When one door closes…another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Wait with hope and expectation so that you don’t miss the door he opens for you in his timing and in his unexpected ways.
- What closed doors are you currently facing?
- How can you lean into the Lord more during this frustrating season?
- In what ways do you think God wants to deepen your hope and faith in Him?
To read more of our infertility and adoption journey: