Infertility: Waiting for God

In my 40-plus years of ministry, I have only counseled one girl who struggled with infertility. This was in the beginning of my ministry, and to be honest, I floundered over what to share with her. In past years, this was an issue few seemed to want to address and I couldn't find resources. In recent years, however, some Christians are speaking up and sharing their hearts and the truth of scripture.

My friend April Motl and her husband Eric - founders of Motl Ministries - wrote a helpful devotional, Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle.  I recently interviewed April prior to Infertility Awareness Month. (Infertility Awareness Week is April 21-27.)

April, what led you to write your book, Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle?
 The book encompasses a lot of our own journey through Scripture and processing the emotions that come with an empty cradle. Infertility wasn’t something I ever imagined would be part of my life. I also never imagined I would write on such a personal topic, but, as God characteristically works in ways we wouldn’t expect, writing on infertility was the first writing ministry door He opened. 

I was deeply touched by the number of women and couples who responded to that first article and their need for the same truth and encouragement we’d found in God’s Word.

Why did you write the book in a devotional format rather than a more scientific approach?
We wrote a devotional purely based on Scripture instead of science because we didn’t feel called or qualified to address the science behind infertility (IF). Besides, as a woman who’s wrestled with infertility, I can honestly say how tired I was of everyone in the world pouring in with their answers - both physical and spiritual - about how to get pregnant. 

This book isn’t about getting pregnant. It’s about processing your infertility in a way that brings hope and healing. It’s a book about allowing God to take this place in your life and your marriage, offering it to Him and seeing Him reach through what feels so empty to bring His fullness.

How can couples use this book – or it is more for women?
The book is designed for couples, but one spouse can certainly go through it alone. There are four weeks of study and activities. Each week contains five daily devotionals, one set of couples’ questions to facilitate discussion and healthy emotional/spiritual processing, and one day of Scripture prayers based on that week’s set of devotionals.

Is infertility a growing issue, or is it simply getting more “press” today?
I think it is growing issue. Speaking from a scientific point of view, infertility-inducing STDs are more prevalent than ever, abortions often leave women with fertility issues, we live in a world full of hormone-disrupting toxins and stresses, and many people leave family building until much later in life. 

So yes, infertility (which actually isn’t just not having children but includes hampered fertility after six months to a year of trying) is a growing issue in our culture.

Why is this a topic not many talk about in our culture?
It hurts. People have said the most outrageous things to me. They don’t mean to be hurtful, they just don’t understand. IF isn’t the heartbeat of our ministry, but of all the issues I’ve written or taught on, this one attracts the largest number of attacks. And for something so deeply personal and potentially identity-defining to be yanked out of you and placed under someone else’s microscope ... it can just be really painful.

How do you encourage couples who are infertile when they feel like “failures” in childbearing?
We tell them that they’re not alone. That’s the beauty of the stories in Scripture. Science gives us stats, but God gave us real flesh and blood stories to tuck our hearts into. We tell them what God’s Word tells all of us: you aren’t alone, God sees you, He loves you and He has a very good plan for your life!

What do you say to couples who might feel God is unfair or unloving for not giving them a child?
Wow! I can totally relate to that emotion. I don’t know why He hasn’t given us children, but I am confident in His goodness and He would never withhold something good from His children. So having children must not be good for us, or isn’t good for us right now.

Would women who don’t have a problem with fertility benefit by reading this book? If so, how?
Waiting is a theme most of us can relate to regardless what we’re waiting for! God develops patience, faith, humility and endurance in all His kids through waiting. Also, since IF affects 12 to 28% of couples, reading this book could make a person a better-equipped friend. 

Before our journey with infertility began, I’d watched church groups pray over couples with empty cradles, but after the faith-filled laying on of hands, they didn’t know what else to do with them. This book offers encouragement and truth that could be very beneficial for women’s groups, Bible studies and churches to have in their arsenal of tools.

Thank you, April. I appreciate your honesty and compassion for others. God bless you and Eric in your continuing ministry to so many who need to understand God's heart. 

Thoughts to consider from Motl Ministries:
  • Not having children is not a mistake. Not a failure. Not the absence of God working in our lives.
  • Sometimes grief comes from something taken away, yet it can be just as real and harder to articulate when it comes from something never given.
  • It isn't what I have or don't have that defines me. It's the words of my Maker.

Eric and April Motl serve their church in Southern California.

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