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  • Writer's picturePaper Paladin

Researching Infertility - Accepting the Role of Alongsider

My friends shared their fear, disappointment, and longings with me amid their infertility. I heard their descriptions of miscarriages and visits to fertility clinics. It was through these snippets of information and painful stories that the question formed: what is infertility?

I really didn’t have a grasp of what infertility was beyond the difficulty my friends were experiencing getting pregnant. So, I began reading books, articles and websites.

I started to see trends. I’m generalizing, of course, but I noticed two groups of works: those written from the first person, who’ve lived infertility first-hand, and those written from the medical perspective, who’ve worked alongside infertility patients. My friends either found solace or discouragement when reading other people’s experiences because the authors were either still struggling with infertility or on the “other side”, so to speak—they had successfully had one or more children.

Works written by the medical community helped provide insight into what is understood about infertility today from a scientific perspective and what options are available for treating infertility.

Something was missing.

Where was the resource pointing to the Bible, the very words of God? Where was the resource that helped people reconcile their feelings, the medical treatments on offer and their faith? How were people to face this suffering well? Was there anything in there about infertility?

And so began my search through the Bible for what God had to say about infertility.

What I found was that God has already told and taught us much about His heart when it comes to infertility. The Bible doesn’t just have one or two people who have experienced infertility; instead, over a dozen people’s infertility stories are recorded for us to enter into. That in and of itself remains fascinating to me. Why did God do that? Why did He enshrine these stories forever?

I’ve come to understand that God did it because He loves us so much. He, above all, not only understands the deep loneliness, hurt, and isolation that comes with facing suffering, but He also knows it. God drank from that cup. He took on that awfulness for us when He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. He is the God who sees us, associates with us, takes on our burdens, and offers to bring life and peace to the brokenness.

As I continued to read the stories in the Bible, each one spoke of how God not only sees us in our suffering, but He doesn't leave us alone in it. He longs for us to know He’s right in it with us, even if we don't recognize Him. He doesn't wish us to feel isolated or lonely in the suffering, so He brings people alongside us. God's unique, deep, consuming love for us will fill us (if we allow it) and then it seeps out of us towards others. We're given this mysterious opportunity to partner with Him in His love-sharing. He desires our lives to be like lights that shine from hilltops when all the land around is dark (my paraphrase of Matthew 5:14-16). No matter how illogical it may seem, He wants us to turn to Him and one another with our suffering.

What materialized was an invitation to journey with my friends. Infertility is a solitary experience. I will never know the burden of living with it. Yet, I found myself knowing the burden of living alongside it. As different as that is, I was called to promote community amid the brokenness.

And so began the journey of accepting my role of alongsider.

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