INFERTILITY: A Season of Purpose

Infertility - Photoclub

If you are dealing with infertility, we hope you will be able to view it, as a season with a purpose. No pain is wasted as we search for some type of purpose in it all.

As we live our lives and go through its many seasons we will experience various kinds of personal loss and grief such as with singleness, marriage, parenthood, and career. Solomon recognized that God had “an appointed time” or “season” for each event in our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3:1,2, he says:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven —A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.

Infertility

Like each of life’s seasons, the season of fertility contains its own personal challenges. Some couples do not experience infertility difficulties until after the birth of their first baby. The months and years pass them by while their first child is growing older and the span of potential years between the first and second is becoming greater. Accepting the truth about our season of infertility is difficult whether we have none or six children.

For a Jewish woman in Biblical times, to be barren was shameful. Sons were needed to help support the family business and to proliferate the Jewish race. Family was very important to the Jewish tradition. Women were culturally and religiously expected to produce heirs. This caused them to compare their own personal worth as a wife to how many heirs they produced for their husband.

And, today, some of these cultural traditions and expectations continue. But they are subtle with less direct pressure. Modern forms of shame have emerged in our current culture due to past indiscretions, sex before marriage, abortion, and waiting “too long” to try to get pregnant. We tend to blame our infertility on ourselves promoting the feeling of condemnation from those who believe we have something terribly wrong with us because we are childless. These haunting feelings of inadequacy and failure can penetrate the depths of our marriage, causing relational difficulties.

Taking on Blame

Infertile couples may even blame each other for their failure to conceive. Sometimes distraught couples begin to reject each other. They begin to point to each other’s past mistakes and sins to substantiate their blame. A couple can be ripped apart at the seams when this destructive behavior is not identified and immediately stopped allowing confession and forgiveness to take place.

Infertility can highlight unresolved hurt and anger in a marriage. When a couple has not developed healthy coping skills with which to overcome difficulties and conflict within their marriage relationship, infertility will certainly put a spotlight on this deficiency.

There are some who claim that it is not personal sin. But their dashed dreams and unfulfilled expectations in having children that have brought them severe pain and anguish. These couples may cry out to God. They say, “Why have you kept this blessing of children from our life?” We have tried to live a pure and righteous life! Why us?” However, God’s Word says that he does not withhold blessings from us. Psalms 34:10 says, The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

Blaming God

Blaming God for our barrenness can cause bitterness, hatred, and anger. It can also cause resentment, and much more sin to take hold in our souls that will slowly begin to corrupt us. Blaming God only distances ourselves from our loving creator. We need to seek Him during our time of affliction and we are not to turn away from Him. Psalms 33:20 tells us, Our soul waits for the LORD. He is our help and our shield.

As I struggled with childlessness while hiding my shame, blame and guilt; I found myself just trying to cope in my normal daily life. A few coping mechanisms I identified in my own dysfunction looked like this:

  • I avoided activities where families will be present.
  • I dreaded the celebrations associated with Mother’s Day.
  • I immediately declined all invitations to baby showers because it hurt too much.

Some of the infertile women and men of the Bible used impure coping mechanisms with which to handle their feelings of shame and lack of self-worth. Sarah was anxious, Rachel was envious, Leah was jealous, and Hannah was depressed. Like these women, today, we may use similar methods to keep us from feeling the pain of infertility.

Compulsive coping mechanisms do not relieve our pain and will only give us short-term control of our situation. Once we recognize we are not coping in righteousness, we need to immediately go to our Heavenly Father and follow His way to cope with our infertility in a more fruitful manner.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Asking God To Reveal Sin
  • Confessing Sin (wrong thoughts, beliefs, actions)
  • Resetting Our Standard

How Do I Reset My Standard?

Step 1: Walk in Faith

The easy way out of a situation is to do what everyone around is telling us to do. Well-meaning friends, relatives, and doctors can give advice and persuade us to follow the world’s path. Submitting our desires to God and waiting for his confirmation and direction can seem an impossible task when we are in deep depression. All these factors make it a challenge to reset our standard to God’s, but it is this challenging time when God does some of His mightiest work.

However, God’s ways are not man’s ways. (Isaiah 55:8) When we feel desperate in our human abilities and we choose to depend on God, we see Him move in incredible ways. This is when our faith is stretched and strengthened and we become closer to God than we have ever been.

Step 2: Surrender Control to God

God wants us to know He is in control of our past, present and future. He proved His position of control to us with the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth. God’s perfect timing and great plans are more important than our desires and selfish demands. As Elizabeth and Zacharias (Luke 1) did, we need to remain focused on God’s bigger plan for our lives. We need to let Him operate in His perfect will and timing specific to His global perspective and plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

God tells us in Proverbs 21:5 that we are to do nothing in desperation. The passage says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” Resist the temptations associated with desperation and turn your face to God for His answers. Becoming sensitive to God’s voice and direction develops as we mature in Christ.

Step 3: Learn to Manage Expectations of Family and Friends

Well-meaning friends and family can create additional stress in our lives during infertility. I remember for myself as we were probed us for answers regarding our childless situation. The personal questions and careless statements often felt hurtful as we struggled through our infertility issues. For couples that are experiencing similar probing, it is important to realize that these family members and friends are showing their concern and interest about your life in the only way they know. It is easy for a grieving couple to believe people are being “nosey” and insensitive when in fact the opposite is true.

Step 4: Recognize the Blessings of Infertility

With the emotional ups and downs of infertility, the only way we can experience true hope and peace is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God uses times of infertility and loss in our lives to bring us closer to Him. He desires that we rely on Him for meeting our needs and wants. He wants us to give control over to Him. He wants us to recognize our human limitations and yield to His ways.

The blessings we receive from our pain and suffering are sometimes difficult to acknowledge when we are deeply involved within our struggle. However, we are instructed by God’s Word to be thankful in all things (Phil. 4:6-7). In our despair, we must open our eyes and let them expand beyond ourselves, to see God at work. He is always “at work.” We need to recognize that we are a small part of a much bigger picture. Sometimes it takes a crisis in our lives before we can slow down and recognize the blessings He is bountifully bestowing on us.

Step 5: Ask God, “What is Your Plan for Me?”

Waiting on God during infertility can be a very trying time. We are tempted to place many of our future plans and decisions on hold while we seek and ponder which direction to take in our lives.

We ask, “Should I buy that new house or car, quit my job, save money, serve on that board or committee, set up a nursery, and place that seed of excitement in my heart?” So much of our decision-making rests on the answer to the question, “God, what is your plan for me?”

Life cannot come to a standstill while we wait for our “little blessing” to arrive. Keep moving forward in your plans while seeking God’s direction. Proverbs 16:9 puts it this way, The mind of a man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

It was a difficult and painful reality to come to terms with the fact that I had potentially missed my greatest opportunity to have a child of my own. I had squandered my fruitfulness on empty dreams and deceptive beliefs. This must have been how the prodigal son felt when he came to his senses and realized he had squandered his inheritance on emptiness and foolishness.

A God of Second Chances

But, thankfully our God is a God of second chances who is loving, gracious and merciful to our needs and desires. As in the book of Joel, God says he restores what the locusts have eaten. We do not always know or understand how He will do this, but His Word says He will and I believe His Word.

I may have missed my season of fertility, but God had mercy on me and gave me a second chance, in a unique and surprising way.

During healing from my grief of infertility, God showed me that I am not in control of my fertility, He is. Through exercising humility, I came to understand that I have no entitlement to mother-hood. Becoming a mother is purely a blessing from God.

Step 6: Don’t Compare

I strongly urge you to resist comparing your life against the backdrop of other people’s lives. Your neighbor or co-worker may appear to have the perfect life with children, but we do not know the real path or true pain of their lives. The path God designed for you contains a valuable purpose. Let go of the temptation to believe that God has forgotten you. Have patience and courage to wait for God to act and confirm His will on His timetable. As I pursued God’s plan for my life, He began to unfold it for me and I finally concluded that His plan was beautiful, unique, purposeful, and created just for me.

As I have seen in countless situations, God uses a season of infertility for His purposes. The main purpose can be to allow healing in one or both of the couples’ lives from a buildup of a series of traumatic or grievous events. Another purpose may be to help drive the couple closer to Himself and to each other.

God’s Purposes

Sometimes infertility allows for the consideration of adoption to help care for the world’s tremendous orphan needs. However, whatever the reason for infertility, God wants to use the time of waiting for His purpose and for His glory. I urge you to not give up hope during your season of infertility but to seek God for His answers.

This article is written by Kimberley Raunikar Taylor who wrote this article from her own personal experience with infertility. In 2001, after experiencing several years of infertility, she and her husband adopted internationally from a Romanian orphanage.

Kimberly has written a book titled, The Intentional Family: Celebrating Adoption,” published by Beacon Hill Press. Kimberley’s book prepares and guides women through the emotional and spiritual journey of the adoption experience. She brings awareness to the many sensitive issues and critical decisions that need to be addressed.

In addition, she provides insight into helping the newly adopted child and adoptive family transition through the post placement phases. She also speaks at adoption workshops and infertility group meetings. Kimberley lives in North Texas with her husband and adopted son.

— ALSO —

You may find it helpful to view a CBN.com interview with Terry Meeuwsen who discusses her experience in adopting children. Please click onto the link below and then choose to view:

THE ORPHAN’S PROMISE STORY

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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage

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Comments

10 responses to “INFERTILITY: A Season of Purpose

  1. (MALAWI)  Thanks for this article. It was written by someone who understands. So far I’ve come to realise that so many Christian leaders, at least in my country Malawi, steer clear of the infetility issue. It’s hard to find Christian leaders who can say something worth holding on to about this issue. People pray for all sorts of problems in sermons, conferences etc. but very rarey will they deal with infertility directly. It is still a silent issue.

    Most women in my country just end up becoming followers of various ‘healing prophets, evangelists, pastors’ that are found in many residential locations and who sometimes create bizzare healing rituals, processes in the name of Jesus. I am one those women; I have been on fasting missions, mountain climbing missions, intercession missions all because the need is so deep and the shame so heavy not to have children in my country. Especially being a professing Christian who is childless. People ask you straight in the eye – ‘where is your God?’ ‘Why not just go to a traditional spiritual healer?’ and indeed all around me women are having children from these healers. It’s such hard work to walk in faith! And in addition to that I have to keep this front everyday at home and at work that things are OK as life goes on -even if I cry myself to sleep every night.

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand everything thats been said above and gone through all those steps and I’d like to think that at this point I have handled work coleagues, friends and family well. They do know I believe in God, that we (with my husband) are waiting on God. Up to the point that now they’ve stopped making suggestive remarks about where we should seek help BUT it has been replaced with this cold sneering silence that sort of says ‘well we’ll see if your God works’ and it’s so hard to go through this everyday and wonder if I’ve missed the mark somewhere. What if God’s will is for me not to have children? ( I am even scared to say that, God forbid that I be like this my whole life!) What will these people say in the end? Will they think that God is real? Or will I be the laughing stock all my life? Why is God not answering my prayers? Why should I carry this shame every day?

    Today I CRIED my heart out again, just before I left for work, because I got my period… Every month it’s getting harder and it’s now been 7 long years. I am at work but I can’t concentrate on anything and my work colleagues mostly steer clear of this issue… so I have no one but God to talk to and all I can say is ‘why?’ and I wish someone could tell me something that I haven’t heard before! Wait? I am waiting. I have waited. Pray? I have prayed, I am praying? Treatment? I have met countless doctors. Ask God’s will? I have done that but I don’t seem to be knowing any better. Surrender to God? God knows how much my heart is willing to do that and how much I’ve surenderred myself. BUT still there is this hole in my heart! This yearning to have someone to care for, to have something other than my career to live for…

    My husband is very understanding, he has never pointed a finger at me or accused me of being the ‘infertile’ one and I thank God everyday for that. God has also blessed his business, we have everything materially that we want. He is also a Christian and everytime he says to me ‘ children are God’s gift and we should wait’…but I keep wondering if he is not worried about an heir for his successful business – for that is what everyone keeps asking. Who is going to inherit everything you have? Even my mother went to tell my sister in law that she is worried that my husband might leave me and find another woman so that he can have heirs because ‘that’s the reason why men work hard in their lives- to leave somthing for their children’.

    I know I sound like a non believer, but even with my belief and faith, these feelings are real and at some point I have to face them head on and what they mean in my life and how they relate to my being a Christian. As of today, I feel like I am not woman enough. I feel so inadequate; I want a home filled with children’s laughter, noise and cries. My house right now is big, but empty. Someone talk to me please!

    1. (USA) Boy!!! Do I know what you are feeling. I have been struggling for many years. I have read all the scriptures on that and I have prayed, rendered, and all the medical and shots. I have met women in my condition who did all the same things I have done and they eventualy got a baby and the one question still remains why not me? People tell me stories like “I knew of a friend that as soon as they stopped trying it happened” Why not adoption? or “maybe it’s not meant for you to be a mother.”

      My family can be quite cruel and make statments like “God knows your personality and he knows you won’t be able to handle children,” Countless of opinions, but the pain is the same. Every month it’s the same story between cycles you hope and pray that it won’t come and you begin to fantazise how awsome it would be to have a baby you even begin to think of names you would name your baby.

      I have prayed and promised God all kinds of things. I have resolved myself to I guess I am not going to be a mother and I have quietly moved on but the pain of it never goes a way. It’s always in the back of my head and I cry alone sometimes because I think how diffrent my life would be if I had a child. God does things for reasons and I belive and trust he knows what he is doing but it does not make it any easier the pain is still there. Maybe it’s not what you want to hear but just so you know you’re not alone in your suffering. I hope that in your case is one of those miracle stories that I hear about all the time that God hears your supplications and grants you a child. Just keep the faith so that you can be a true testament to God and his glory.

      1. (ZAMBIA)  Sad indeed. I am going through a rough patch in my marriage and have no child with a husband of 9 years. I could relate to both your comments. I even asked my husband if it is the reason he doesn’t want us to reconcile… because we have no child between us. In the African context, a man is free to leave a wife and marry somebody else who would be able to bear children. (It is practiced traditionally.) But I know that God is the one who gives, and when he says yes no one can say no. Keep me in prayers as my situation is tearing me apart.

      2. (USA)  You can’t listen to your family members, and I hope that doesn’t bother you. With family members like this, I would prevent a majority of information making it to their ears.

    2. (MALAWI)  Valerie, I am from Malawi too and it’s 7 years of waiting as well. Keep trusting Our God of Sarah will do it again. He is the same miracle working God. Girl, we will one day testify. Our strength is renewed everyday as we wait upon the Lord. My prayers are with you.

  2. (USA)  My heart aches for each of you. And although I am not familiar with your country’s customs Valerie, I too faced similar condemnation for being infertile. Most relatives/friends were sympathetic to my situation, but some had their “well meaning” opinions and advice; that which sometimes was very cruel, hurting comments.

    My late husband of 20 years and I were not blessed with children of our own. Although we never really tried to “prevent” from having them, we also didn’t seek other measures to have them either. We just thought that we would eventually get pregnant. We both hoped that we would one day be blessed with children.

    After 18 years of marriage at the age of 44 we found out that I was pregnant. That pregnancy never actually “bloomed” as it was an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Since the baby cannot grow in the tube our pregnancy had to be aborted. This one event, aside from my husband’s death 3 years later, was the most emotional/devastating trauma I ever experienced. I felt as though my heart was just ripped out of me. Not only had I not gotten pregnant in our 18 years of marriage, now I was finally pregnant, but would never experience the growth of our baby inside my womb or the birth of our baby.

    I felt that God had played a very cruel joke on us. I was in the depths of despair, crying out to the Lord,(actually screaming in agony), when He lead me to 2 passages of Scripture: Isaiah 40:4 “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain & hill made low, the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

    Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

    As my grief seemed unbearable, I clung to those verses like a lifeline. When I heard some say that it was best this pregnancy was terminated because of my age, I allowed God to hold me, strengthening me with His love.

    Shortly after this, I attended, of all things, a Mother’s Day banquet with our ladies group from church. These precious ladies surrounded me, praying that God would hold my pain and use it for His Glory. I did not understand how this would happen, but somehow had the belief that He would hear their plea. This, the pain and grief, after all, was the only thing that I could offer Him. With every passing day, I realized that the harshness of pain started to lessen.

    I found myself asking “Why?” ‘Why me, Why us, Why the pregnancy, the hurt, the pain, the grief, why, why, why, why??????????? I was not receiving any answers and sensed that I would never get the answer to WHY. So, I started asking “What?” “What can I do to get through the day, What can I do with this pain, grief and despair, What can You show me through this dark valley, What can You do to show others Your glory?”

    God brought me scriptures filled with His promises of His love, He brought people into my life that showered me with love, He showed me that He would provide any void in my life, He taught me that even though I lacked children of my own, there are other children just craving the loving attention of an adult and through this my husband and I grew closer in our relationship with each other.

    The wanting of a child has not completely gone, but I turn toward God and our relationship and nurture the relationship I have with family, friends and those children that come into my circle. In my family, I have 14 nieces and nephews, 22 great nieces and nephews, and we were blessed recently with 2 great great nephews. I could have become bitter with each of these births, but with God’s help and guidance, I decided to cherish these children with my love and attention.

    I cannot take away the pain that you each experience, but I can pray that God will continually bless you with His Love and be a constant presence in your lives. With love, peace and comfort, Linda

    1. (USA) Thank you for your powerful story. God bless you. I too am struggling with infertility and your story has brought tears.

  3. (MALAWI)  Thank you all for your testimonies, thoughtful wise words and guidance. This has been so helpful to me and encouraging as well, to keep on having hope and to work harder on changing my attitude. It’s still not easy to live above these circumstances everyday but I get encouragement from the will power that you all demonstrate. I believe that GOD is still on our side! I will hold on to the scriptures that you’ve shared and I will keep you all in my prayers and hope that you pray for me as well. I re-read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and hope that as time goes by I will also be able to confess like Paul did.

  4. Quote: “I came to understand that I have no entitlement to mother-hood. Becoming a mother is purely a blessing from God.” So those who follow in God’s footsteps, but are still infertile, are NOT blessed by God?

    1. There are different types of blessings. They don’t all come wrapped up in the same way, or delivered in the same timing, or as obvious at first notice as anyone else’s. You have to seek the blessing that God has for you… but don’t look for them with human eyes but with the eyesight that God can give you as you continue to seek Him. May you be blessed as you do.