Recently I was in a conversation in which someone asked what each person’s favorite scriptures for infertility were. I have plenty of favorite scriptures, but I passed on answering the question because I hadn’t ever thought about favorite infertility scriptures. In general, I don’t like taking scripture out of the context in which it was written and randomly applying it to my life! At the same time, I know that the Bible carries truths that can be used by anyone, in any situation, at any time. So I thought (not too) long and (not too) hard about the scriptures that have resonated with me the most through these last few years of infertility, and – if you are currently sinking in the gaping abyss that is barrenness – I hope that these several scriptures will encourage you, too!
“How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me.”
When you have been trying to get pregnant for years, and women all around you seem to be able get pregnant simply by washing the dishes with their husbands, you start to wonder “How long shall my [infertility] be exalted over me?” This psalm reminds me of Rachel in Genesis, when she said to her husband, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” It can be that way, sometimes. And that’s normal. But this Psalm reminds us to trust in God’s steadfast love. No matter how badly you feel, God hasn’t forgotten you. And it reminds us to rejoice in His salvation. Ultimately, our lives are not about us. They are about Christ and His mission to restore our world. Whatever tragedies happen to me in this life seem so insignificant when I think of the fact that I will live eternally in a perfect world. And I’m grateful to Jesus for making that possible!
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.”
A huge question that humanity has always asked is why bad things happen to good people. Job had just received the news that all of his children, servants, donkeys, sheep, and camels had been killed, stolen, and burned in ludicrous freak accidents and random invasions. He had literally lost everything he loved and everything he owned in one short afternoon. But Job was a good person. God Himself had referred to Job as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” The truth is, no one can escape tragedy. Even Jesus faced tragedy as He was crucified. And yet, Job’s response to his loss is that he is going to praise the Lord. I honestly can’t answer the question of why infertility happens to wonderful people who would make amazing parents, while those who do not want or respect their children are easily getting ‘knocked up’ all the time. But I love the example that Job sets. God’s way of doing things rarely makes sense to us. Nevertheless, He is an all-knowing God and He knows what He is doing. In the end, God restored Job to a position that was better than the one he’d had before. And whether in this life or the next, God will do that for us too.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
When I think of all the different types of illnesses in the world – and specifically illnesses that relate to or cause infertility – I think about the body wasting away. I often feel like my own body is wasting away. I used to have so much more energy, I used to be able to stay up late at night, work long hours, play sports, and take long walks (or runs!) without getting tired. These days, I don’t get through half a day without a chest pain, or a muscle spasm, or an ache somewhere on my body. I feel sad for friends of mine whose younger years were filled with so many medical issues that they were unable to carry children and are now past the point of ability (or desire) to do so. I sometimes feel guilty for having hope that I will one day carry my own child, when it seems so unfair to those who’ve never had that opportunity. If I get pregnant, how would that make them feel? But, when we focus more on what we cannot see (our inner nature), we realize that we all have our challenges that can help strengthen us. And these “slight momentary afflictions” are not the end of our stories. The hardships we face as infertiles – and in life in general – are preparing for us an “eternal weight of glory,” if we can learn to have the right attitude. God will redeem our stories, regardless of whether or not they end in pregnancy. So, don’t lose heart.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”
Paul (the author of Corinthians) is the King of making sentences longer than they need to be, but this passage is simply a reminder that when we go through various challenges in our lives – we are supposed to use our experiences in order to help others who are going through the same thing. Our world is so heart-broken. There are so many people with so many different types of challenges and traumas – and we can’t do something about everything. But we can do something. At the heart of the gospel is the story of a God who suffers in order to lighten our burdens. And we can live out that example each day as we suffer on the behalf of others, using what we have suffered through as an opportunity to lighten the load of another person.
Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when He delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”
It’s a lot of responsibility to think that, with everything you are going through already, you have to find the emotional energy to continue to trust and worship God, focus more on the whole of His story than on your personal pain, and tap into your sufferings in order to help someone else! Actually it’s impossible to be able to do all of that consistently. Sure, you’ll have your good days, but you will have bad days. You will have fits of extreme envy. You will be angry. You will feel spiritually dead. You will have pity parties. But if the Lord delights in your way, though you stumble, you will not fall headlong. He holds you by the hand. You don’t have to be perfect. He already is.
I hope that one or more of my favorite infertility verses has encouraged you in your journey to parenthood! Comment below or on Facebook to share your favorite infertility (or general hard-times) verses with me! I’d love to hear it!