Childlessness. Many are left heartbroken because of it. Countless men and women have walked its difficult path. It’s one of the oldest and most familiar struggles in the history of the world.
Infertility affects approximately 12% of the U.S. population — more than one in ten couples will struggle with infertility. That number doesn’t begin to encompass the couples who have lost children or miscarried, or the single women who desire to be mothers.
Childlessness is often one of the loneliest struggles a woman can walk through. It is not a visible pain. No one knows that you can’t have children, or are struggling, unless you tell them. Few, if any, know the sorrow of your heart, or how heavy and difficult this situation can be. It’s not on display for the world to see. Unconcealed trials — though still hard — make it easier for people to see that you’re suffering and come to your aid. Childlessness doesn’t enjoy such lines of sight.
I have personal experience with this trial. There are many words of encouragement I could try to speak into your soul, but these three have served to be particularly powerful for me.
1. Don’t be afraid to grieve.
The journey of barrenness, infertility, or miscarriage is a trail of tears. One of the most important things to remember when walking down this road is that it’s natural to grieve this trial. It’s okay to mourn the death of a dream, and begin to reconcile how an unfulfilled desire fits under the umbrella of God’s sovereignty.
“Don’t be afraid of tears or of feeling the pain. Give yourself room to mourn.”
Don’t be afraid of tears or of feeling the pain. It can be easier to suppress the pain, instead of allowing yourself to feel it and grieve over it. Give yourself room to mourn, lament, cry out to God. Weep in his presence and wrestle in prayer.
2. Know that Jesus knows.
In some of the most gut-wrenching Psalms in the Bible, David cries out to God with a stunning honesty. He was no stranger to grief and suffering. He’d lost a child. He’d felt abandoned, weak, and helpless. His pen wrote some of the rawest words recorded in the Scriptures. What a sweet gift God gave us when he put pictures of grief and sorrow into his holy and inspired word.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? (Psalm 13:1)
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. (Psalm 6:6–7)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1–2)
As acquainted with grief, loss, and pain as David was, our heavenly Father knows the depth of sorrows more intimately than anyone. Our Savior is the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and actively sympathizing with our sorrows. He is “near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). All other comfort pales in comparison to the comfort that can be found in his word.
3. Childlessness does not define you.
Christian, your identity isn’t tied to your ability to bear a child. Many couples tend to feel inferior because they are struggling with childlessness. The devil loves nothing more than to call the core of your identity into question, and shift your eyes off of Jesus and on to yourself.
“Your identity isn’t tied to your ability to bear children, but to the fact that you are God’s beloved child.”
You were created in the image of God. Your soul was created to know God. As a result of that stunning truth, all human life inherently has great value. Your identity shouldn’t be tied to your ability to bear children; it should be deeply rooted in the fact that you are God’s. This trial is temporary, but your identity in him lasts forever.
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
Even if your womb remains forever empty, your heart can be full. At your darkest hour, you can stake your hope on the fact that God knows your pain, and he promises that he will never leave or forsake you.