When God Doesn’t Give Children – 2

The previous article discussed the reality of infertility and gave some insight into the grief that people experience when the longing for children is unfulfilled. Included was an encouragement for all of us to open our eyes to those who are suffering, to be willing to share their pain and be ready to encourage them in the Lord. In this issue I speak directly to those struggling with infertility, although much of what is said applies to suffering in general.

One of the challenges when suffering pain, loss and grief in this life is to have a proper perspective of God, and how we should relate to him. It is often tempting to give in to anger or resentment, whether that is directed to God or others. There are many conflicting emotions to deal with. Travelling the road of infertility forces you to examine what you believe about God and about yourself, and it causes you to become a person who must rely on faith, and learn to put total trust in God as the one who truly sustains.

The Grief is Legitimate

It is important, first of all, to realise that feelings of sadness and loss are not sinful emotions.  God creates us with these emotions and they are a human reaction to the brokenness in this world. Even Jesus wept because of death and agonised because of suffering. To those feeling the pain of infertility is the added complication of grieving something that never was, and to those I say:

It can be a hard thing to believe that the pain you are feeling is justified, that the loss of something you never had can be so difficult. But your pain has merit. For those who never had a pregnancy, it is hard. For those who lose children before birth, it is hard. Don’t be tempted to minimise your loss because it seems someone else’s loss is worse. The grief is gut-wrenching. What you feel is really as terrible as it feels. Please don’t feel burdened to ‘get over it’ because people don’t know, or people don’t understand. 

The Bible teaches us to truly lament, to cry out to God out of the depths of sadness, to cry out to the God who knows us. God invites us to be honest with him. God meets us where we are, not where we think we should be. We do not need to pretend with God. Lamenting over our grief and pain is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. It is an expression of faith because it says, “I trust you God. I know you are sovereign, and that is why I am taking my disappointment and confusion and tears to you. Because I know you are the only one who can do something about this.” [1]

You lament. You grieve. But what do you believe about God in all this? Unfulfilled desires give rise to questions and doubts. Do I really trust God with my life? Does God really know what he’s doing? If God doesn’t grant this child to me, is he worth trusting? Is he really good? Or is it me? Am I defective? Am I unworthy? 

Insidious questions creep into your mind: why does God allow children to others and not to me? Why to that couple who don’t parent their children well, to that couple who aren’t even married. To that couple who already have five children. To that couple who shared their struggle of infertility with us, but now God has given them a child. Why not to me? These are real, honest questions.

To the deepest questions of your heart, God comes to you with very real answers. When you look at the character of God and when you focus on his promises, you have answers that give true and meaningful help. While emotions are normal, and even good, emotions can also cloud your thinking and prevent you from seeing God. Acknowledge your feelings, but remember that feelings come and go. Choose to act on what God says in his Word and let that be your guide for what you believe and how you live.

You need to think theologically, to force yourself to look outward and upward, to actively search for God’s truth in the middle of all the spiritual questions and personal uncertainty. This does not come naturally or easily – it takes self-discipline and perseverance. But the results are peace in the middle of sadness, comfort in the absence of answers and confidence when faced with uncertainty.[2]

Believe the Truth

Believe that God is sovereign.  That can be challenging when your desires seem unfulfilled, yet believing in God’s sovereignty comes with the comfort that God has a purpose and plan for your life. It is a source of great hope. God has a unique plan for your life and has your life’s path outlined for you. 

Believe that God is good.  He is the only source of good, the only reason why there is any good in this world. It does not mean that things will always be good in your life, but that God is good. It does not mean that your life will be easy… but God is good. It does not mean that there will not be times you will be so overcome by sadness that you must go and find a place to be alone and just cry… but God is good. The circumstances of your life may not be good, but God himself is always good, and so while there may not always be happiness, there is always hope.[3]

Believe that God loves you.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for you to demonstrate his love for you. Believe that if God gave you the greatest gift possible by giving up his Son, he will not deny you anything that is good for you.

Resolve to trust him.  This is the only way to perfect peace. You will have many thoughts that go through your mind each day, but resolve to keep returning to the truth of the Word, to what you know about the character of God. He is faithful, he loves you, he is merciful, he never changes. No matter how bad things seem, believe that God is trustworthy. God is worthy of being worshipped, of being trusted, regardless of circumstances. It’s not that you are not hurting, but even in your hurt, you can say “God is good, and I can trust him.”

Believe that God understands your pain.  Without doubt. When you read in the Bible in 1 Samuel 1 about Hannah’s cry to the Lord, realise that God has recorded her words of anguish for your benefit, because he understands her pain, and he understands your pain. God is near to the brokenhearted. When even those closest to you do not understand, believe that God’s understanding is without limits.

Remember Jesus.  Fix your heart and mind on Jesus. “When Jesus says, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death,’ we are comforted in knowing that Jesus understands the intensity of our sorrow. When we hear him say, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine,’ we realise that Jesus is showing us what to do when God doesn’t give us what we desperately want. When we hear him answer the questions about why a man was born blind saying, ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him,’ we begin to believe that God might actually have a good purpose in our pain.”[4]

Jesus does not always give us answers but he does give us himself. He will not necessarily take the fiery trial away, but he will walk through the fire with us and make us emerge unharmed. He gives us the promise that he walks through the valley of darkness with us, and the assurance that we will reach the place where we will experience the peace he died for.

Satisfied in God

Psalm 139 says “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” People often use that when speaking of babies. But, dear child of God, you who experience infertility are also fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows you, he made you, and his way with you is perfect. You are not a failure. You are not less than others. You are his child, made in his image, made for his purpose, according to his perfect plan. You are loved.

The road of infertility is difficult, sometimes heartbreaking. It can feel impossible to be content while walking this path, or to be happy without the fulfillment of your deepest desire.  But the way to living a life of contentment does not depend on receiving sympathy and understanding from others. It does not even rest on receiving the deep desires of your heart.  Contentment comes from the power of God, worked in us, from the depth of the love of God revealed in the sending of his Son. It rests on Jesus, who wept and agonised in the garden of Gethsemane. It rests on the one who never forgets the sorrows carried by the hearts of those he suffered and died for. He was tempted in every way, he was rejected, despised, abandoned. He knows, he understands in a way that the most loving friend can’t, and he gives the strength we do not have in ourselves. He is the one who can give us peace and contentment in this life. Trust him with your life.

We have desires in this life, great, good, godly desires. But pray that God becomes your greatest desire, and that he gives the gift of being truly satisfied in him. May he be the one that fills your soul with contentment because of who he is, and because of the great hope that all children of God have.

Christine Schoof

FRC Albany

[1] Adapted from GriefShare DVD series

[2] Lois Flowers, Infertility, finding God’s peace in the journey, Harvest House, 2003

[3] Michael R Phillips, Heathersleigh Homecoming.

[4] Nancyguthrie.com. Nancy Guthrie is the author of Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.

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