You do?? Really?
There are many women in the Bible who suffered from infertility and are often referred to in ministering to women suffering with infertility.
Such as The Infertility Hall of Fame: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Isn’t that our biblical basis for promising children to people who have enough faith?
Elizabeth Price in her Stepping Stones article admits these women failed to encourage her because although they walked down a similar path of barrenness their path led to giving birth to a child. Unlike these matriarchs of the faith, Elizabeth found she needed a message from God when the answer to her prayer was no.
God gave Elizabeth Paul’s story of wanting the thorn in his flesh removed (2 Corinthians 12:7–9). Infertility also is a thorn in the flesh, a physical condition that pricks the heart of every woman (and couple) who struggles with it. God’s answer to Paul became her comfort: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Elizabeth tells how she began to follow Paul’s example of appreciating the work God could do in her life because of the weakness of infertility, not just in spite of.
One of the first nuggets of wisdom we gain from the barren woman is something we so easily forget: we never have all the facts. We can guess all we like at why certain things go wrong, why one woman is happily fertile and another woman helplessly watches the years slip away without a single conception despite tears and prayers and relentless faith in God. If these ancient sufferers tell us anything, it is that God’s ways are mysterious. He isn’t obligated to explain himself and often doesn’t….Faith may want answers, but somehow it is able to survive without them. (C. C. James, The Gospel of Ruth, 84)
Often men and women experiencing infertility find their faith is challenged by having prayers unanswered and songs of praise are hard to sing when their hearts are hurting. It is hard to grieve publicly when the source of the sorrow is so private.
Some of the ways those in church leadership can be more sensitive to infertile couples is to consider how to include them, particularly at times like Mother’s Day. It is important that women who would want to be mothers be included in the prayers for moms. Although some churches have support groups for those dealing with infertility, many women have not found this type of resource available. Starting a group for people to share their hurts and hopes with others who have the same concerns and emotions could be a wonderful resource. One woman stated she had attended a secular support group but did not feel like she could connect or identify with the women there because the comfort and healing of the heavenly Comforter was not a part of the process.
Men and women have emotional differences regarding infertility, so caregivers need to be in tune to where each partner is in the healing process. When questioned about the impact infertility had on their lives, 57 percent of women and 12 percent of men identified it as the most difficult challenge they have faced.
Try to be available if a friend or family member wants to talk about her/his infertility problem, knowing it is important to let him/her guide the conversation toward or away from the topic. Often just having a caring person with a listening ear is the most important thing; it isn’t necessary to offer advice. Especially be cautious of offering pat advice or answers; often these are myths that surround the problem of infertility.
In the previous blog, “It was a moment I’ll never forget,” the Kublier-Rose 4 stages of loss and grief were addressed, as they apply to infertility: denial, anger, depression, and bargaining.
The final stage is
Acceptance: Coming to a place of acceptance opens the opportunity to make other choices, seek medical treatment, and/or to have God use her and her husband in other ways. In accepting infertility she can separate the fact that pregnancy and parenting are two different experiences. With acceptance comes freedom from anger and guilt.
Those who care will continue to provide support and encouragement as the woman and man take the next step in their journeys. First, consider how to help each on an individual basis, and secondly, how a church community can contribute positively to a couple grappling with infertility.
- A magazine like Stepping Stones http://step.bethany.org/is a wonderful comfort to many, and as one woman said, “It was my support group even if I wasn’t at a meeting.”
- Resolve http://resolve.org/ is also a recommended resource.
- Empty Arms: Emotional Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Tubal Pregnancy, Pam Vredevelt
- Infertility: Finding God’s Peace in the Journey, Lois Flowers
Most importantly be a prayer support. Pray for the childless in your church or community. God is certainly the giver of life—for every single human being. He can and does give life. Yet, although the reasons remain obscure, he sometimes chooses a different path for would-be parents. “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
(Taken from Shepherding Women in Pain, Chapter 7 “Infertility” by Susan L. Suomi, who has a MA in Counseling from Western Seminary and is a national certified counselor (NCC) currently working at North Greenville University, Tigerville, S. C. and in her local church.)