Is it possible to be a woman of faith and also be infertile? God said that children are a blessing from the Lord. At church the infertile couple is told to have more faith, to not give up, not to go to witch doctors, but to trust that God will give them the baby they desire so much. The couple continues to wish and hope for the baby God has for them as so many have prophesied. As the years go on people begin to whisper. She never shares her anguish or her story because it would communicate that she is not a woman blessed by God, not a woman of faith.
I am a woman of faith and I am infertile. I share my story for every woman that is too ashamed to tell hers. I tell my story for the pastors that will be counseling these couples. I share my story because too many godly African women have told me not to share my story as it could damage my reputation and my husband’s ministry.
From my earliest memory I loved babies. I dreamed of the day when I would be a mom. I grew up as a missionary kid in Africa holding all the babies at church, praising God for each new birth. We married young because we wanted five kids. After we had been married several years we still did not have the baby we wanted. I cried and I prayed and even while worshipping in church I imagined what it would be like to praise Jesus with a baby in my arms. I knew God could give us the baby we wanted so badly. And maybe that’s why it hurt so much. Why was God withholding his blessings from us?
Through the years God has taught me that the faith he desires from infertile women is not that that they will get pregnant and have the baby they have always dreamed of, but that they will have faith that God’s plan is even better than theirs. If they stay trapped into holding onto their dream of how their family will be formed then they will never truly embrace God’s plan. When I laid my dream of pregnancy before the Lord, he blessed me with the joy of motherhood through adoption. If I had selfishly held on to “MY faith” in a pregnancy instead of God’s plan for my family I would have missed out on raising two amazing sons! Since then I have looked for other ways that God is widening my tent. Because I don’t have a large family God has allowed me to become a pediatric clinician. Now I am able to share the gospel as I care for other people’s children. Through teaching Children’s Sunday School each week I disciple a whole classroom full of children.
The next time you see a woman of faith whose head is bowed low, sitting ashamedly in the back of women’s meetings, silently wiping away tears then remind her that her heavenly Father sees her and has an incredible plan for her life. Help her to see how God plans to widen her tent. “Rejoice, childless one, who did not give birth; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the forsaken one will be more than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep. For you will spread out to the right and to the left and your descendants will dispossess nations and inhabit the desolate cities. Isaiah 54:1-3. This prophecy points to Sarah’s children of the promise that come from the covenant relationship with Jesus. The greatest tragedy would be that an infertile woman is so consumed with wishing, hoping, and praying for a baby that she misses the opportunity to mother a tentful of children of the promise.
Laura H. Barnes (APRN, MSN) has spent nearly twenty years living in Africa. She is married to Phil, and they have two wonderful sons, Daniel and Jonathan. They live in Lilongwe, Malawi, where Laura serves as a pediatric clinician.