In Luke 1:5-25 Elizabeth and Zechariah deal with infertility. Actually, we only see the end of their struggle. As Zechariah said (foot heading into mouth), “I’m old and my wife is REALLY old (v.7).” For a couple that had lived a long life mutually honoring God (v. 6), this pain was not new.
Doubtless, this “hope-deferred makes the heart sick” experience (see Prov. 13:12) was part of the reason Zechariah refused to allow himself to believe that God would bless them with a child when God had arranged for the angel to meet him in the Holy of Holies to make the announcement. It hurt too much to believe. Zechariah would take his chances with a flaming warrior of light in order to avoid falsely hoping he could be called, “daddy.”
One (mild) piece of comfort is that barrenness often occurs where God is at work in mighty ways (Gen. 11:30, 25:21, 29:31; Judges 13:2; Luke 1:7). We can often wonder, “Why is god punishing me? Why is He withholding this good thing? What have I done?” The pain of our unfulfilled dream is multiplied by our interpretation of God’s anger or absence.
As a church, this is one of the long and bumpy roads we walk with one another as we “do life together.” It is long, because it is indefinite. It is bumpy because we wonder every month whether this will be our turn and because it becomes painful to hear of other people’s joys concerning children.
On this subject, I would recommend an article by Kimberly and Philip Monroe. I (Brad Hambrick, Summit counseling pastor) recommend the article only secondarily because Phil is an excellent counselor, personal friend, and has a great heart for the Lord. The primary reason I recommend the article is because they have modeled the vulnerable courage to open this painful part of their life to others.
With that said, I believe it is both the content and the example of this article that I would recommend. I do believe that you will find words of comfort taken from the Scriptures that point you to the hope of Christ found in the Gospel. But I also believe you will find two of God’s children walking the road of dependence upon God and be encouraged by their example.
To read the article “The Bible and the Pain of Infertility,” click here.