Ambassador of Reconciliation
9/1/15 at 01:55 PM 2 Comments

“He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children”

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Many years ago I read a book about one woman’s journey through infertility, loss, and finally, motherhood. It was heart-wrenching to read of her intense yearning for a child, her initial inability to conceive, the daily reminders of her barrenness, and then multiple miscarriages. Already having several children of my own, I knew I couldn’t completely comprehend, but it occurred to me at the time that never having children could be just as heart-rending as losing your children. Never having lost a child either, I can only imagine the intense grief and despair it causes, but I don’t think it would make me wish my children had never been born; in other words, I wouldn’t consider it preferable that they had never come into the world at all. Despite the unbearable pain of such a loss, no one could take away from me the joy I had already experienced with them—carrying tiny new life in my womb, the thrill of birth, the delight of watching them grow. And I would still have the hope of being with them for eternity. Those who are childless, on the other hand, never experience those joys and do not have the hope of being together eternally, only the unremitting pain caused by the loss of the little person they have dreamed of.

I know that suffering cannot be quantified or ranked, and I’m not trying to compare degrees of suffering, but rather to encourage empathy and understanding and sensitivity toward those who long for children but can’t have them. As many as one in six couples struggle with fertility issues, and often their affliction goes unnoticed. For those who are unable to conceive, there is no traumatic “event” that others can recognize, no opportunity to receive an outpouring of sympathy, just the ongoing ache that never goes away, the longing for an event that never happens. Having children myself, I’m afraid I have too often been oblivious to the pain of those who don’t, but two recent conversations brought this issue to the forefront—one with an unmarried woman who has turned forty and knows that her desire for children of her own will go unfulfilled, and another with a couple who have experienced ten years of infertility. They represent the millions of people who share this heartache, people you probably pass by every day.

As Christians, what hope can we offer to those who long for a baby but have empty arms year after year? Some come to terms with never having a baby. And there are many wonderful stories of infertility and loss followed by the blessing of a baby. But for many others, the clock keeps ticking until all hope is gone. They have to go on with no prospect of a child in this life. But what about the next? Consider what the Bible says.

We know that one day there will be no more sorrow or mourning or tears (Rev. 21:4), so I think it is safe to say that in that day there will be no unfulfilled longings. Either the longing will be fulfilled, or God will take away the longing, so that no one feels any loss or emptiness or dissatisfaction. In this life, we all yearn for something that is not a present reality: the quadriplegic longs to walk; the mother whose little child has been kidnapped and murdered longs to hold him again; the person who has been sick his whole life longs to be made well; someone who has been neglected and abused longs for acceptance and compassion. Knowing that God’s heart is to bless His children, we can confidently assure these people that He will grant them what they have longed for and take away all their grief and heartache and suffering and make them fully satisfied.

And what about the woman who longs more than anything to have a baby but is unable? Like Hannah in 1 Samuel, she experiences deep anguish and yearning. Notice the phrases that describe Hannah’s pain:

Hannah wept and would not eat (v. 7).

Her heart was sad (v. 8).

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly (v. 10).

She spoke to the Lord about her affliction (v. 11).

She felt forgotten (v. 11).

She was troubled in spirit (v. 15).

She poured out her soul before the Lord (v. 15).

She spoke out of her great anxiety and vexation (v. 16).

In Hannah’s case, God opened her womb and gave her children and took away her sadness in this life, but what of those who never experience this joy? Will we tell the quadriplegic she will walk again and the bereaved mother she will see her child again and the sickly person he will be made whole, but not tell the childless woman that her deepest longing will be fulfilled? Will God heal the disease or injury or condition that makes her unable to have children but still not give her any children? We can’t make any guarantees, and perhaps God will take away her longing and give her complete contentment in Himself, but maybe there is hope that someday she will experience the joys of motherhood. Although we can’t know for sure, I think we do well to err on the side of extravagant hope based on God’s extravagant love. We don’t know the specifics of what He has in store, but what we do know is that what He is preparing for us is far beyond what we can begin to imagine.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor. 2:9).

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph 3:20-21).

He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD! (Ps. 113:9).



Neesha Oliver’s Blog:
“My husband and I have been dealing with infertility for 9 1/2 years. I can’t say it hasn’t been devastating. Each time another couple announces they are pregnant, we find ourselves torn with emotion – happy for the couple, but sad about our own infertility wondering when it will be our turn. If you’re also struggling with infertility, you know what I mean and know the feeling all too well.”

Hannah’s Prayer Ministries:
“Hannah's Prayer Ministries provides Christian-based support and encouragement to married women around the world who are struggling with the pain of fertility challenges, including primary and secondary infertility, pregnancy loss, early infant death, and adoption loss.”

A Royal Daughter:
“In 2012, after opening up about my three year journey through infertility, I decided to combine my desire for connecting like-minded women with my passion for story crafting and launched A Royal Daughter. Now, nearly three years later, I am an infertility survivor, a mama to my sweet redemption baby, and sharing the story that God is writing in my life.”

Empty Arms:
Music video about infertility

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