I have two beautiful nieces who are pregnant right now and expecting babies in the next few months. They can’t wait and I’m thrilled for them.
One of my nieces has been really sick. On her Facebook page she posted, “I’m 13 weeks along and have been quite sick the whole time, but the last few days have been horrendous. I can’t keep anything down. My anti-nausea pill that used to work is not doing anything. The foods that used to settle my stomach now all come back up. And any time I try to drink water it makes it all come up faster.”
As horrendous as this has been for my niece, I still know a number of women who would trade places with her in a heartbeat. They are women who are heartbroken because their dreams of having a family have been stymied by infertility.
Infertility brings intense suffering. When you get to know women who are wrestling with childlessness, you can often hear echoes of Psalm 6 in their suffering, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (6:3). “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (6:6).
God Speaks to Our Suffering
God isn’t silent in the face of suffering. He wants us to come to Him with our questions and our grief. As we do, He answers through His Word and through the life of His Son, Jesus. When God speaks to us in the Bible, it is the God of all comfort who speaks. He acknowledges openly that the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives (2 Corinthians 1:5). This honest admission provides ground for trust to grow. God isn’t trying to cover up, minimize, or gloss over our suffering. God doesn’t bait us with the promise of a pain-free life and then fail to deliver.
Instead, the God of all comfort shares in our suffering. When we cry out in agony, we are crying out to a God who is deeply familiar with suffering; He willingly suffered for us at the cross where He carried our sorrows, and now He joins us in our suffering and walks with us through deep waters (Isaiah 43:2).
Clearly, God’s ways and comfort do not always take the form we expect. Rather than giving us exactly what we want at the moment we want it, God offers Himself as a superior desire. God offers Himself to us as the One who is able to satisfy our deepest longing and deliver our greatest joy. He offers Himself as the One who gave His life for us. He is the suffering Savior, the slain Lamb who is worthy to receive glory, honor, and praise (Revelation 5:12). His power can bring light to our darkest moments and deliverance to our bleakest hours.
In his letter to people undergoing intense suffering, the apostle Peter begins with praise for Jesus, the Lamb of God. Does that surprise you? Most of us wouldn’t expect a letter to sufferers to begin with praise. Yet that’s how Peter began. Look where Peter finds hope. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Peter continues, “[In this birth] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6). It is this birth which can provide our deepest satisfaction and joy, comfort us in our darkest moments, prevent bitterness and anger from consuming us, and strengthen us to persevere and even become a light to others stumbling in darkness. This birth allows us to transfer our gaze from our disappointing and painful circumstances to our Savior. Looking upon the One who was crushed in exchange for our life causes our new birth to become our living hope and greatest joy.
As a result, rather than being trapped in suffering, those who are childless can begin to take a different look at their infertility. As they long for a change in their family, they can also long for a deepening in their relationship with their dear Savior. God’s promise of hope and comfort isn’t dependent on a change in circumstances. Listen to what Peter says produces inexpressible and glorious joy.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6–7).
Peter explains that inexpressible and glorious joy results from a faith in Christ that longs to see Jesus receive praise, glory, and honor.
While the suffering of infertility wrenches cries of pain from the childless, infertility simultaneously offers opportunities for something else to occur. The suffering of infertility offers a taste of Christ’s suffering and creates an opportunity to be devoted to Him, His glory, and His kingdom. And continued suffering offers a continued reason to long for Christ to come and to set our hearts on things above, where the barren will have joy eternally for it is in His presence we find eternal pleasures. The greatest gift of all is not having a child, but being a child, His child.
Join the Conversation
What is your testimony of finding Christ’s healing hope and loving comfort in the midst of infertility?