When my husband and I first got married and we started to make plans to grow our family, I didn’t know that my journey of motherhood would be ridden with loneliness, anger, jealousy, sorrow, guilt, and shame. Infertility is not uncommon, and yet it is something that is rarely spoken about. I myself knew nothing about it and was completely surprised when after having had no problems getting pregnant with our first son, I found myself going through years of monthly tests and medication when we wished to get pregnant with a second child.
As a person who had always considered herself a go-getter, infertility tested my sense of self-sufficiency and patience. While many things in life can be obtained through hard work and diligence, the hard truth is that even with the help of modern medicine, only God can create life. There was NOTHING I could do to create life inside of my womb! My desire for a child tempted me to have feelings of anger towards God. I had harsh thoughts such as questioning: Why were others so blessed? Why was God not “blessing” me back when I was doing so much to serve Him? Perhaps I had done something wrong to deserve this struggle. Perhaps you have felt similar thoughts when the Lord has put you in a place of hardship.
There were three important lessons I learned from my experience with infertility. The most important was how to rest in the Lord and his plans. By God’s grace, in the midst of my trial, I was in a Bible study of the Book of 1 Kings. Chapter 19 tells the story of Elijah. Even though he was God’s only remaining faithful servant, the Lord put Elijah in a situation where he had to flee into the wilderness to escape an angry mob who wanted him dead. Afraid, exhausted, suicidal, and alone, Elijah crawled into a cave to hide. The Lord then called Elijah to look outside the cave. He showed him a powerful and destructive wind, an earthquake, a fire, and then lastly the sound of a low whisper. The Lord was present in the low whisper. God showed Elijah that He was powerful and in control of all of nature, but revealed Himself to Elijah with gentleness and kindness in his moment of greatest weakness.
For some reason, I saw myself in Elijah. I needed that gentle care of God amidst the chaos of my thoughts and frustrations. When advice from friends, doctors, books, and non-traditional doctors pulled my decisions and emotions to and fro, the Lord gave me a low whisper to rest in His gentle care. So instead of praying for a child, I prayed for peace and contentment in the plans the Lord had for me, even if it was not what I had envisioned. That prayer was absolutely transformative.
The second lesson I learned as I searched the Bible for comfort was that God has a special place in His heart for women experiencing infertility. From a historical perspective, this is amazing! Women at that time in the Middle East and around the world were valued primarily for their ability to produce children. There are very few women mentioned in the Bible by name, but of these women, many suffered from infertility and had to wait a long time to conceive. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth were all “barren” for a time, but in God’s timing became the mothers of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, and John the Baptist. Don’t think that the Lord doesn’t care for you and your struggles with infertility. His story of redemption is full of love and respect for women, including women with infertility struggles like us.
Lastly, if you are experiencing infertility, keep talking with your husband. The monthly cycles of treatments and appointments are especially difficult for women who bear the brunt of them. While husbands are not always clued into the details, it is not because they do not care or equally desire children. For some of you, infertility comes with the added grief of miscarriage. The Lord has not put you in this journey alone. He gave you a supporter, a listener, a person to cry with, and a person to pray with. The Lord will use this trial to strengthen you and your marriage if you open up your heart to your husband. If you are struggling to communicate over such issues in your marriage, please consider talking with a pastor who can help you. The strength of your marriage is integral in your ability to parent should the Lord bless you with children biologically, through fostering, or adoption. So don’t let the struggle of infertility put a wedge between you and your spouse.
If you are walking through infertility or are in a period of waiting for the Lord to respond to your desire for more children, I encourage you to delve deeper into the Word of God and see how our powerful God cares for you with great tenderness and gentleness. Read how He has a special place of honor for women with fertility struggles throughout scripture and be encouraged by how He heard their cries and prayers for help. Have hope because in the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:37 regarding her “barren” cousin Elizabeth expecting a child: “For nothing will be impossible with God.