If infertility strikes a woman by surprise, how much more unexpected is the struggle of secondary infertility? Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. Statistics show 20 percent of women experience secondary infertility, which is twice the number of cases reported for primary infertility.
Infertility is a silent struggle. A woman feels alone and invisible at times. On the other hand, her struggle is very obvious: she has no children! But for the woman who has conceived and birthed a child “effortlessly” and then finds herself in this unknown world of secondary infertility, her struggle is unexpected and even perplexing. She finds herself dealing with the passing of time and maybe even the pain of losing a child through miscarriage. A new set of emotions and thoughts floods her mind – “Will I ever experience the miracle of pregnancy again?” “Will I ever hold a newborn in my arms again?” “Will I be able to give the gift of a sibling to my first child?”
The desire for more children also brings many questions for the mother who once was barren but has experienced God’s mighty work in her life. “Will I be able to have more children?” “Will I have to go through this struggle a second time?” “Will those who prayed with me the first time lovingly and patiently support me again?”
We have all heard the phrase that is supposed to “encourage” the mother’s heart that aches for more children, “Well, at least you have one child! You should be so thankful!” Yes, we should be thankful for our children, but does that mean we are selfish to want more? The fleshly nature of women has been, and will continue to be, one that collects and competes – especially with our children. If you don’t believe me, just read Genesis 30!
The Spirit-filled woman recognizes that it is a God-given desire to be a wife and mother (Titus 2:4-5). So then, pursuing the worthy calling of motherhood is not only desirable, but Biblical. It is in the Scriptures so we will be encouraged by those who have gone before us – women just like us, who have struggled in the process of growing their family tree. Rachel and Leah’s story is one that is very familiar to many of us. Rachel waited year after year as Leah bore one child after the other. Genesis 30:22 says, “Then God remembered Rachel… and opened her womb.” What an answer to prayer! It’s the highlight of the chapter. God listened to Rachel. The God of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth has an intimate relationship with a barren woman. He is a relational God who sees, listens, and feels. And He gives Rachel a son.
But this is not where the story ends. We have to read carefully so we don’t miss what comes next. Rachel names her son. The meaning of her son’s name is lesson number two for the woman who has struggled with infertility, past or present. “She called his name Joseph, and said, ‘The LORD shall add to me another son’” (Genesis 30:24).
Can you hear Rachel’s courage and conviction in those three words? “LET HIM ADD!” She had just transitioned from pregnancy to holding a newborn in her arms, and there she was proclaiming her desire to have another child to the One who could grant her heart’s desire. Imagine her friends’ response as they heard the name. “It’s a boy! And his name is Joseph!” She didn’t hide her desire to be a mother for the second time. Instead she goes public with her desire to be a mother of two. When she named her son “Joseph,” it was as if she said, “Do it again, LORD!” Joseph’s birth announcement was a declaration of faith.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I can relate to Rachel. After years of infertility, God gave us a beautiful baby girl. These last eleven months of motherhood have brought such joy to my life. I would love more children! I have no idea what the future holds, but I know the One who holds it. How grateful I am for God’s Word and that He still speaks to women today. He still opens the barren womb.
Rachel’s story reminds me of three things we should do when we want our family to increase:
1.) Talk to Him about your request. Go to God. Converse with Him. Use this opportunity to build intimacy with Him as you pour out your requests before His throne.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
2.) Thank Him for His resources. He is an abundant God. He is the God of increase! He is not lacking in power or resources. Thank Him for this truth. Thank Him before He answers you. He is worthy of your praise!
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
3.) Trust Him with the results. Whether or not He answers the way we expect Him to, He will answer us! He has your good in mind. He has a future for your family. Worship Him and rest in His love for you.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20, 21
If you are struggling with primary or secondary infertility, we would love to pray for you! Please e-mail us through our “Contact” page to let us know how we can best pray for your family. May this be the year of increase for your family including increased intimacy with your Savior!
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