I recently received the following letter in response to the article “Why Am I Barren?” published in The Lutheran Witness. While the letter is addressed specifically to me, I believe this letter really applies to all of us who bear the cross of barrenness. For this reason (and with Judy’s permission), I reprint the letter here for all of you:
Oh, how I wept for you as I read your article in the Witness. No, I can’t say I share your cross for the Lord truly blessed me with fertility. I am a mother, 72 years old, with six sons, ages 54, 51, 50, 47 and twins 44. All I ever wanted to be was a mother, but I also thought I could decide when it would happen.
Marrying young, Mark was born one year after our wedding. Three years later I was happy to be pregnant and give birth to my second son, but thirteen months later, at God’s will, not mine, the next son was born. I was upset, always fearing what people would say. But this one was so easy and so good, how could I not be happy? Having wanted four children, I was determined not to again get pregnant, and, after Scott was born, I was confident I had my family. God does have a sense of humor, however, and much to my dismay, I discovered I was pregnant again. This was at the beginning of the ‘pill’ which I refused to use and long before ultrasounds, so, when I went full term and looked like an elephant, I suffered a good case of hysteria following the birth of the first baby and learning from the doctor that there was another one ‘in there.’ The doctor had convinced me that my size was due to the possibility of having a ten-pound girl. However, I wouldn’t trade any of my sons for a girl, and I have thanked God for the sons he gave me.
You raise the question, “Is barrenness a cross or a blessing?” I might phrase the question, “Is having a large family a cross or a blessing?” As I see it, it is all in the eyes of the beholder and their faith in a loving Heavenly Father whose will is not always our will. Whether or not you will ever be a mother, I do not know, but I pray that you will fill this void in whatever way the Lord gives you. I was given this opportunity and thank God for it and even went so far as to have six foster children and three children with us who were in intensive therapy. I also gave child care to a handicapped boy and later his little sister and just recently spent two years as a volunteer to children in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades at a Lutheran school. This was very rewarding to me, and I believe I was helpful to these children in supporting them in their education.
You probably wonder why a woman would respond to your question who cannot relate to your situation. I really don’t know why I am, except for the fact I truly sympathize with you. May our Lord and Savior strengthen you as you continue to struggle with this question.
Love in Christ,
Judy, you can and do relate to me. You know what it is like to have no control over the number of children God gives to you. The fruit of our wombs is markedly different, but our faith is the same. Thank you for sharing in my suffering, and thank you for responding in faith to God’s gift of children to you, trusting that His will is good even when it is different from your own.
Sisters, we are mistaken if we think we alone suffer just because we want what has not been given to us, for there are many women who struggle because they have been given what they do not want.
We know without a doubt from God’s Word that children are a gift from Him (Psalm 127:3-5), but that does not mean these gifts are easy or even always welcome. Women who are disappointed to find themselves pregnant year after year often experience the same temptation we do of wanting in some way to “control” the giving of God’s precious gifts. It is in faith that we trust, in spite of our own personal desires, that God will give (or not give) children to us according to His perfect will. It is in faith that we receive (or do not receive) what He has to give. It is in faith that we trust His giving and His not-giving to be for our eternal good (Romans 8:28). And, it is in faith that we pray with joy, even while we strain under the cross’s weight, “Thy will be done.”
May God grant us faith, like Judy’s, which trusts in His Word, regardless of the cross we bear!