Sometimes I find myself pondering a paradox. First you need to understand that there are a few things related to the paradox that I know in my heart are true, and I know because the Spirit of God testified to me that these things were true.
1. Someday, I will have children to raise.
2. God wants me to be happy and wants what is best for me–in fact, He wants me to be a mother.
So here’s the paradox: If those two things are true, and I know in my heart they are true, then why is God making me wait for something I want so badly that I know He wants for me too? I’m sure that one day, I will understand why, but right now, I don’t. However, I recently came across a passage of scripture that enlightened my mind and gave me some peace even though my paradox remains a mystery to me.
I was reading in the book of Jacob, chapter 5 (from The Book of Mormon–background on that here). In this chapter, a prophet named Jacob is preaching to his people, the Nephites, who lived in the ancient Americas. Jacob teaches the people using an allegory about tame and wild olive trees. It’s a parable not so different from the parables Jesus taught–stories using concrete experiences and ideas that were familiar to the listeners that represented a more abstract principle in a way that they could understand it.
So in this parable, there is a vineyard of olive trees, a Lord of the vineyard, and his servant. Some of the olive trees are growing and bearing good fruit (the tame trees), but others have started to decay and bear wild fruit (the wild trees). The Lord of the Vineyard and his servant are working in the vineyard, checking on each tree and doing what they can to nourish the trees, graft good branches into the bad trees, and try to save the trees that have decayed. The Lord of the Vineyard and his servant check on one particular tree which was planted in the “nethermost part of the vineyard” and find that it has brought forth much good fruit. They have this conversation:
21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.
22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.
When I read those verses, I just feel like I’m part of the story. I’m the olive tree in the nethermost part of the vineyard, and God is the Lord of the Vineyard. I’m trying to be the kind of good olive tree that my master wants me to be, trying to grow and bring forth fruit which I know is his goal for me. Then I look down at the soil I’m planted in and notice that it’s rocky, dry, and barren. And I have to wonder–if the Lord of the Vineyard wants me to be a healthy, strong tree that bears good fruit and doesn’t wither and decay, then why did he plant me in this place? What good can come from such an empty beginning? Why didn’t he plant me in rich, moist, fertile soil? Wouldn’t that have made things so much easier? If God wants me to be a mother and bring children into the world, then why did he plant me in the poor ground of infertility?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am humbled and comforted by the Lord of the Vineyard’s response when the servant asks why he planted the olive tree in the poor spot of ground: “Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground…I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.”
The Lord of the Vineyard didn’t toss the olive tree seeds into the air and let them fall randomly on different parts of the vineyard and hope for the best. When he planted the trees, he planted each one intentionally in different parts of the vineyard, and then he nourished and cared for them individually. This teaches me that even though I wonder why God would place me in a situation that makes having children (like bringing forth fruit) extra difficult, He has put me here for a reason. I need to remember that God knew what He was doing when He planted me in this rocky, infertile spot of ground. I take comfort in knowing that He will nourish me while I wait, and that someday, my desires will be fulfilled and I will “bring forth much fruit” in my long-awaited children.
Have you found words of comfort in the scriptures that have helped you have faith and patience during challenges? If so, I hope you’ll share them with me.