During my journey so far, I’ve noticed that infertility is so underrepresented in everyday life. While infertility afflicts a whole lot of us (7.5 million women ages 15-44 have used infertility services in the U.S., read more about that here), there are still many, many more pregnant women and women who have children than there are infertile women. On top of that, fertility is so much more visible than infertility. The presence of a baby bump or children is much more obvious to passersby than the absence of either of those. Coupled with the personal nature of infertility and an old-fashioned lingering stigma of shame attached to infertility, it makes sense that those of us who struggle with it often feel very alone and outnumbered. I’ve certainly felt that way.
But something I’ve learned along the way and cannot deny is that God has a special place in His heart for the barren. While infertility is underrepresented in everyday life, it is not underrepresented in the Bible! Isn’t that intriguing? The Bible was recorded by men, and not very many women are mentioned in the Bible, but of those women whose stories were recorded, a surprising number struggled with infertility. Sarah. Rebekah. Rachel. Manoah’s wife (mother of Samson). Hannah. Michal. The Shunnamite woman. Elisabeth.
All of their stories are different, but I’m sure that all of these women endured years of waiting, praying, pleading, wondering what was wrong with their bodies, comparing themselves to their fertile relatives and acquaintances, and I suspect, feeling very alone. Yet from what we read of these women, they all loved the Lord and trusted in His plan for them. My faith is strengthened as I read their stories and learn from their virtuous examples. Surely God had a purpose in causing these women to turn to Him, rely on Him more deeply, and cast their burden of barrenness at His feet. In some cases, His purpose became clear; for example, Hannah’s willingness to give her son back to the Lord if the Lord would allow her to bear a child was necessary for Samuel to be taught in the temple and grow into the prophet the Lord intended him to be. Elisabeth’s son John, born in her old age, needed to be born at a specific time–about six months before Jesus was born to Mary–so that he could fulfill his earthly mission of preparing the way for Christ, teaching and baptizing as the forerunner for the Messiah. His purpose in allowing infertility to afflict each of those women might not always be obvious from reading the Bible verses that tell their story, but I know that God heard their prayers and and used their circumstance of infertility to teach them truths they needed to learn as part of their mortal experience.
So why would God make sure that a disease afflicting a relatively small percentage of women over the course of history would be given significant coverage in His holy book? Because you are His daughter. He loves you. And He wants you to know that you are not alone. He cares about you enough to make sure that when you feel like you’re the only woman in the world who isn’t pregnant, you can turn to the word of God, where you’ll be inspired by the stories of several other women who felt the same way. He has a purpose in allowing infertility to be a part of your earthly experiences and He has such a capacity to comfort you and heal your heart if you turn to Him. In fact, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, to take upon Himself all the pains, sorrows, and infirmities you will ever endure. I know this because I have felt the power of His Atonement work in my heart. I have felt a divine power soothe my anger, soften my bitterness, and speak peace to my soul. Does that mean that infertility is now easy for me? No! But I have received a witness that I am not alone. My Savior is with me in my affliction, and I know that He will not leave me comfortless. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all that is unfair about this life will one day be made right, and that gives me hope.
So friend, please remember that you are not alone in your struggle with infertility. God is always with you, ready to comfort you in ways that no one else can. But if you ever need an imperfect earthly friend to talk to, I’m here too. I would love to hear your story! If you’re not comfortable leaving a comment on this post, you can always fill out the contact form here to have a more private conversation with me.
I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to read the stories of these women in the Bible and receive inspiration from their experiences. I’m planning to study their stories more closely and share what I learn with all of you. If you’d like to read about them, the scripture references for each story are as follows:
Sarah: Genesis 16:1, 17:1-8, 15-21, 18:9-14, 21:1-7
Rebekah: Genesis 25:20-26
Rachel: Genesis 29:31, 30:1-2, 22-24, 35:16-20
Manoah’s wife (mother of Samson): Judges 13:2-24
Hannah: 1 Samuel 1, 2:1-21
Michal: 1 Samuel 18:20, 27-28; 2 Samuel 6:16-23
The Shunnamite woman: 2 Kings 4:8-17
Elisabeth: Luke 1:5-80
Please note that I do not own any of the images used in this post and do not intend to violate any copyright restrictions by including them. I have given sources to the links where I found the images and tried to give credit to the artist in cases when I could find the artist’s name. Please leave a comment if you know the names of the artists of the first two paintings, I want to give them proper credit.