I don’t know whether my church growing up talked about this issue or not. Maybe they did and I was in the wrong class or maybe I did not have the maturity to recognize the wisdom that I was hearing. Regardless of all the reasons, when our first attempt to have a child was not very successful we were not sure where to turn. I suspect that this same experience is true for many other young couples who learned the hard way that pregnancy was not always as easy as it seemed.
So in this post I would like to talk about creating a culture where couples can talk about this struggle openly and honestly and that genuine and thoughtful help is available. Lets deal with first things first.
To those who want to help
- Remember the earlier posts. You are not the repairman. You are not the Lord. You are a tool designed by God. In this case, your role is to hurt with them and encourage them to run to Jesus. It is true that sympathy without truth is not helpful in the long run, but it can also be true that truth without sympathy is devastating in the short run. We need balance. We need careful ministry. Commit to doing your best to be careful in ministry.
- Most couples with infertility challenges have good days and bad ones. So do not assume every day is bad or every day is good. Learn to ask questions and to tread on sacred ground cautiously.
To those who are hurting
- Do not be overly sensitive. People cannot read your minds nor are they trying to bash you. What people say is not always helpful but sometimes their heart is right. In cases like this they need instruction. Imagine what you would say if the shoe was on the other foot.
- Be genuinely thankful. I have been guilty of this many times. Someone has tried to help me, they actually irritated me, and I wrote them off as unqualified to actually help me. I should have slowed down. I should have been thankful that there were people in my life who were hurting with me. I should have given them the benefit of the doubt.
With those two matters out of the way, here are a few ideas to help your small group, your adult Bible fellowship, or some other ministry be more open to talk about infertility.
#1. Teach on Infertility
Infertility is a common issue in the Bible. It is a common subject in Genesis and it is found among such prominent women as Hannah. These stories show couples in your church that they are not alone. It helps them see that their struggle is a struggle faced by God’s people from the calling of Abraham all the way to today.
#2. Encourage and possibly facilitate adoption programs
Some churches have been financially involved in helping a family adopt a child. Some churches have a “sanctity of human life” Sunday, but often those messages are against abortion rather than for adoption. Maybe a bit more time on adoption will encourage those in your church family to seek adoption as a possible godly alternative.
#3. Share “Rescued from Infertility” testimonies
God rescues folks from infertility in multiple ways. Sometimes, God blesses with a pregnancy – many of my friends have been told they would never have children and sure enough some of those same friends have 3 or 4 kids. Sometimes, God rescues using an adoption. Sometimes God rescues by helping the family join the foster care network. In other words, God’s grace reaches infertility and the couples going through it need to see it from time to time.
#4. Be available for one on one meetings
Some couples would prefer to keep their struggle quiet. Just because they don’t want everyone to know does not mean that they don’t want to talk to anyone. From time to time it is helpful just to let people know that you would be happy to meet with them personally if they desired.
#5. Celebrate all rescues
Whenever God rescues a family then it is time to celebrate. We are all strengthened and encouraged as we “rejoice with those who rejoice.”
I hope these tips make it easier to develop a culture where “one another” ministry can occur in the body. If you have other ideas we would love for you to post them.