How should a Christian respond to infertility?

This is a very personal topic for me. My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for 20 years with no success. We have gone through all the medical tests and our infertility is, for the most part, unexplained. The doctors simply do not know what is causing it. While this can be extremely frustrating and discouraging, God is comforting and teaching us as we go through this journey.

There are several incidents of infertility in the Bible: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Elkanah and Hannah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, just to name a few. Eventually, God blessed each of those couples with children. And, in each of these cases, the child became a great man of God: Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, and John the Baptist. So, if our infertility is due to God waiting for the perfect time, we will, of course, gladly accept it. But, whether it is for that reason, or some other reason, the problem is, we do not know the mind of God. We do not know if it is a matter of His timing. We do not know if God wants us to adopt. We do not know if God is not allowing us to have children so that we will have more time to serve Him in ministry. Not knowing the reason is what most infertile couples find incredibly frustrating.

While we have no delusions that we would be perfect parents, as dedicated Christians, if we ever have children, we fully intend to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). It doesn't make sense that God does not enable us to have children while we see people who are absolutely unfit parents having multiple children with ease. Every time we hear a report of child abuse or abortion, it pains us. Why did God allow that person to get pregnant, but not us?!? This side of eternity, I doubt we will ever find the answer. In heaven, I know the infertility we experienced in our earthly lives will not bother us anymore. But, it bothers us now.

For several years, my wife and I were somewhat depressed about our infertility. Eventually, after much prayer and wise counsel, God brought us to the point that we can fully accept His will, whatever it is. It wasn't until a few years ago that I could accurately put it into words. The realization is that if we are not satisfied with God, and God alone, we will never be satisfied with our lives. Having children will not miraculously fill the void. If we are unsatisfied with God now, we will still be unsatisfied with God when we have children. Once God brought us to this point, we began to look at having children, if it ever happens, as an added blessing. We no longer view having children as something we need to experience in order to live joyful and fruitful Christian lives.

Our infertility still doesn't make sense to us, but there are many things in this world that are equally perplexing. We have absolute trust that God's plan is perfect even when we do not understand it. We continually ask God to conform our desires to His plan. Is it always easy? No. Does it sometimes hurt? Yes. But, our relationship with God is far more important to us than whether we are ever able to have children. To be bitter and angry towards God in response to infertility is an affront to His perfect wisdom, love, and grace. While we still wholeheartedly hope to become parents someday, we completely accept God's plan, whatever it is.

If you are a Christian who is struggling with infertility, my counsel to you is this: learn to be perfectly satisfied with your life and your relationship with God without children. Then, should you be able to have children, you will recognize them as the gifts from God that they are. Should you never be able to have children, ask God to lead you into what He wants you to be doing with your time and resources that, if you had children, would be dedicated to them. Whatever the case, do not allow the lack of a child to disrupt your relationship with God as His child.

S. Michael Houdmann

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How should a Christian respond to infertility?