tMichaelB is the web site for Tom Bengtson, who writes about business, religion, family and politics.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thankful reflections on faith and family

Thanksgiving is next week; this is a time of year when people reflect on the things for which they are grateful. For me, I am most thankful for my family. I am particularly thankful because during those first few years Susan and I were married, we didn’t even know if we’d ever have a family.

Before Susan and I started adopting children nearly a decade ago, we had to come to terms with our infertility. Looking back, that picture has come into a little clearer focus thanks to some serious Bible study Susan and I are pursuing through a local parish. Jeff Cavins, nationally known for his work on the EWTN television program “Life on the Rock,” is leading the instruction.

Our study has taken us through Genesis, and one story has proven particularly meaningful to me. In the middle of Genesis, God promises Abraham and Sarah a child. Both laugh because at their advanced age they cannot believe they will have a child. Wanting to see God’s plan fulfilled, however, Sarah encourages Abraham to have a child with her slave, Hagar. Abraham follows up and Ishmael is born. Fourteen years later, Sarah becomes pregnant and has Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael are sent away and to this day the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac co-exist in a strained relationship.

This is the first recorded story of a couple wrestling with infertility. Their story, however, is as relevant today at is was in biblical times. Like most couples, Abraham and Sarah believed that God’s will included a family for them. When they ran into the roadblock of infertility, they took matters into their own hands rather than put their trust in God. How many couples struggling with infertility today seek family through means that use sperm or ova from a third party? Many couples today do what Abraham and Sarah did, albeit in a petri dish and medical lab as opposed to a tent in the desert.

Man’s ways do produce children – beautiful children, in fact. However, just as it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to know of the Muslim/Judeo-Christian strife that would result for their descendants, it is impossible for any parents today to know what pain may lay ahead for their descendants. We all know that peace will only come to our hearts if we live according to God’s will rather than according to our own will.

For Susan and me, the Catholic Church’s counsel away from artificial means of conception proved invaluable. We accepted that teaching. We were a little unsure at first but looking back, adoption proved absolutely the right path.

Thursday, Susan and I will sit down to a Thanksgiving Day dinner with our four children and other relatives. We have so much for which to be thankful -- faith and family above all else.

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