(We had the privilege of sharing this testimony about our infertility at church this morning. To hear the audio version – and a really outstanding message – see the sermon from 7.29.2007 here.)
We have been married for 4 ½ years. A little over a year into our marriage, we were eager to grow our family by having kids. However, for financial reasons, it seemed wise to wait a year before starting to try for children. Little did we know, that wait was just the beginning of a very difficult season.
We had been trying to conceive for about six months when we started to get worried. The months continued to pass, and we scheduled a visit with the doctor. At first, our doctor did not take our concerns very seriously, so we delayed testing for a few months. Then when we did have tests run, the results were read incorrectly and we were told there was no problem, when in fact there was. Finally, almost a year and a half after we began trying to have children, we got a referral to an infertility specialist. It took a few months to complete further testing, and in July 2006 we began fertility treatments. Of the various medications and procedures that we have tried, nothing has worked yet.
The suffering of infertility has squeezed us in so many ways. Scripture tells us that having children is good and God-honoring, that children are a reward, and yet our desire for children has gone unfulfilled. Unlike most sorrow that gradually subsides, our grief for the children missing from our home is renewed and heightened month after month. While we have been trying to conceive, we have watched all of our friends get pregnant and have babies, and many of them have gone on to get pregnant and even give birth again. There are unique challenges to being infertile in a very fertile church (although there is no church where we would rather be)! Our infertility treatments require frequent doctor appointments and invasive, intensive medical procedures. As husband and wife, we have experienced different reactions to infertility, and that has sometimes led to misunderstanding and conflict – however, our marriage has grown richer and stronger and closer as we endure trial together.
In the teeth of this trial, we have had to fight hard to cling to God’s sovereignty and goodness. Those truths have rarely been self-evident over the past 2 ½ years; the circumstances of infertility have seemed to veil God’s power and kindness. When we ask why we have not been allowed to conceive when it happens so easily for others, when we ask why God will not heal us or answer our pleas to have children, there are no easy answers. But as every false hope is stripped away, we find a firm hope in our Savior. When we think that conception is impossible for us, we remember that all things are possible with the One who became incarnate through a virgin birth. When we wonder if we could earn children by just praying harder or by learning some spiritual lesson, we recall that our actions will always fall short of earning us anything, but that Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf. When we are tempted to see infertility as some sort of cosmic punishment, we rest in the truth that we are justified in Christ who once and for all turned away the wrath of God by bearing it on the cross. When we worry that the Lord has forsaken us and favored other couples, we revisit the cries of the Son forsaken by his Father so that we would never be. When we feel like no one understands the depth of our heartache, we return to Gethsemane and witness the Savior with a soul sorrowful to the point of death, intimately acquainted with anguish. When we lose the words and the faith to ask again and again for a child, we rely on the Great High Priest who intercedes on our behalf before the throne of God. When our bodies feel broken, when our flesh fails, when we weep and wail, we raise our eyes to the Risen One who will restore his fallen creation and wipe away every tear. The gospel proves God’s sovereignty and goodness, even when we have no idea how God will work infertility to a good end. We have no guarantees that we will ever have children, but we do have a secure salvation.
Time does not permit us to detail every way that God has grown us through this trial. We have learned so much from Scripture, from fellow believers, and from godly authors. Time also does not permit us to thank everyone who has prayed for us, encouraged us, and practically cared for us. You as a church have helped us to carry the burden of infertility over these past years. We look forward to seeing your prayers answered and to join with you in watching God’s goodness unfold.