The room was dimly lit by the moonlight peeking through thin, lace curtains in the bedroom across the hall. This room would have been perfect for a nursery because it had a window situated in such a way that the sun shone tenderly through the pane, whether sunrise or sunset. We ended up having one of our friends paint a mural of the Gospel on the north wall. It was a redemptive mural painted to remind us we have a calling to build God’s kingdom, not through biology alone, but through the Holy Spirit.
I believe women who have walked the road of empty wombs are looking for a checklist of things to do while they wait for a child. We hope somehow this “waiting well” will please God, which will in turn cause God to give us babies. I know I did. Barrenness, infertility, and miscarriage is a raging battlefield for the soul of a woman. It is a battlefield for the faith of a woman. With the female body raging with emotions and hormones and deficiencies surrounding childbearing, this battlefield is unique to the woman struggling with this kind of suffering. You may be one of those women. However, as Christian women believing in a God that makes the impossible possible, you may still be operating under the god that only says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future’,” from Jeremiah 29:11. Chances are, your plans to keep hoping for the best and waiting for this same god to give you the desires of your heart, are leaving you hollow and empty. At this point in your journey with barrenness, infertility or reoccurring miscarriages, you have come to the end of trite phrases or verses taken completely out of context, which at one point may have been plastered on all your favorite morning coffee mugs. If I had to play my cards right, I’d even say you believe no one understands. Everyone around you is popping out babies left and right while you’re left wondering if the goodness of the Lord is really for you. You’ve probably looked down month after month at negative pregnancy tests through blurry, tear filled eyes. Or maybe, you’re tired of seeing toilets loaded with the blood from your own body and the body of the unborn child you carried. Maybe the burning question in your belly remains: “Is God really for me and not against me?”
For those of us who carry this unique suffering, it is unlike any other battle because we are not only battling for a desire that is good and holy, but we are battling against ourselves and the inability to live out the believed identity as being fully woman. The battle for the barren woman is also fighting for truth when the narrative of empty wombs screams to be understood. A barren woman can easily isolate themselves from family, friends, and church community because they believe no one understands what they are going through. That may be true, but to be understood and known when walking through this kind of hidden suffering can easily become a different, more sinister battle, and it’s the battle of pride. However, when we lay down this kind of thinking, (with the help of the Holy Spirit) this need to be understood in our loneliness of carrying this suffering, we may find what our hearts are really searching for in all our attempts to be understood: to be more in love with Jesus. When the barren woman serves others, love others without the need to be understood in the midst of her own suffering, she understands more deeply how Jesus loved us even before we knew he existed. He served us without ever needing to be understood (John 1:10). Jesus didn’t let being misunderstood keep him from serving others with wild abandon. Why? He knew he could still lean in to the beautiful community the Father called him to because HE was going to make all sad things untrue.
One day, my beautiful sister, when Christ returns for us and unites all things to himself, every negative pregnancy test, every year that passed with arms empty, every ache and pain miscarriage brought, every heartbeat that once fluttered in your womb and stopped, every tear that fell because of the loneliness this kind of loss brings, has been bottled up and cared for by the Lord, and ONE DAY he’s going to make every sad thing untrue. Until then, you fight on the battlefield of this brokenness inside you. “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (Isaiah 7:9). This includes any attempt to be “strong”, any attempt to “keep hoping for the best”, any attempt to “deal”. Even any attempt to grieve will fall flat without a firmness in faith. Believe with me, dear sister, as one who has gone before you for 14 years, that this suffering is actually SERVING your faith. As much as you want to believe the lie that God is unkind in allowing this unique suffering, he is not. Anything, any thought or hope, any dream that is contrary to THAT truth will only weaken your faith.
Believe with me, dear sister, that you can open your Bible to hear God speak his delight in you apart from your ability to carry a child. You can do this in hopes that this area where you lack, is where God wants to grow something new inside of you. He will grow a something new and hidden in the secret places of your heart. I’ve seen first hand how my lack, my empty arms, my barrenness became a place where God knit together a tapestry of beauty for my life that I wouldn’t have ever chosen for myself simply because the path to get here was one of great pain. However, what the enemy meant for evil, for the demise of my soul, God turned into a tool and a weapon to build his kingdom. Oh, my dear sister, you may have thought a brood of children was the way you were going to build, but God is doing something new and different in his building. The raw materials he’s using cannot be seen, not even by the sonogram machine. It is so hidden and so other.
So how do we fight? Isaiah 54 tells the barren woman to sing! “Sing O barren one!” Sing, you who lacks some good thing, because in your singing you will fill the empty places with a beautiful hope- not a hope for a child, primarily, but a hope that sings to your soul that this weight of suffering will not be what crushes you. Singing and worship is where your calling and your lack will converge to give your full attention to the throne of God. It will settle and quiet your soul in a way nothing else can. The enemy will try to make a shipwreck of your faith as you fight this battle. Beware! Your experience with this unique suffering, your life as a woman who has experienced this kind of loss, will NOT be the one life God does not keep his promise to. Your longing soul will not be the first one he does not satisfy.
Remember, beloved one, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all”.
***DISCLAIMER: This kind of suffering can really take a toll on your mental health. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, or suicidal ideation, please reach out to someone. Contact me. Whatever you need to do to be healthy, do it. Infertility and this unique kind of grief is no respecter of persons.