Mothers in waiting that is what I like to call women who long to be mothers but find that their bodies are not able to bring forth babies. Being barren is a heart wrenching pain that is beyond difficult to explain to someone who has not experienced it. The word barren is dreadful isn’t it? That is why I prefer to say mothers in waiting, because it is a more appropriate way of describing a woman’s heart. Women who long to be mothers have the heart of a mother but are waiting for the day when their joy will be completed.
My whole life I wanted to be a wife and mother. In my dreams, I would become the mom of eight children. I had imagined their names and personalities and the role that I would play as their mom. I was blessed early in my adult life with marriage and a truly wonderful husband who loves me beyond measure. But… For so many years that longed for moment when I would become a mother was elusive. I prayed, I cried and I prayed some more. I went through so many long and tearful nights with my Father never fully understanding why His answer to me was not the answer I longed for. I could not understand why a loving couple who loved and served God could not bring babies into the world when wicked women could so easily become pregnant and abandon, neglect or– worse– abort their babies. I can honestly say that I was not always the best reflection of Christ during some of those days. Jealousy and bitterness found a dwelling place in my broken heart.
In scriptural times, barren women were considered the lowest of outcasts. They were ridiculed and rebuked for something they never had control over. Sometimes still today, people are downright cruel to a barren woman. Many times it is unintentional, other times it is misguided intention and still others are cruelly intentional in their words toward barren women. So often I heard “Well don’t you WANT children?” As if I were somehow denying my husband what he rightfully deserved. I realize that this question was simply a reflection of the society we live in, because a woman today has the option to choose her plans for parenthood, but as a Christian woman, it was very painful to have to respond to that question. Other women would come right out and ask very intimate questions regarding my relationship with my husband. Let me just say this, IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO ASK THOSE KINDS OF QUESTIONS! Still others would offer pitiful advice like, “Just relax, it’ll happen.” Or worse “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” This last statement was just cruel. Why? Because a barren woman is hearing something like this “God in His Wisdom is protecting you from the rigor of motherhood because He knows that you are just too weak to bear it.” Or we think something like this, “Am I really worse than drug addicts and prostitutes, who have all kinds of babies outside of marriage, that God doesn’t think I can handle a baby?” Plus, the scripture being referred to (1 Corinthians 10:13) is being entirely taken out of context and completely misquoted when used in this way.
Let me explain.
1 Corinthians 10:12, 13 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This passage is referring to the temptation to sin. It is not referencing the struggles and burdens of life as being too overwhelming to bear and that God somehow keeps us from burdens too overwhelming. It is saying that God will not allow us to be led into a temptation to sin that He knows we are not able to refrain from but that when temptation to sin does arise He will provide the means by which we can escape from the sin. Too often, I have heard this passage used as an attempt to offer comfort to someone in sorrow, but not someone who is in temptation. Yes, we can be tempted when we are weak from sorrows and God will protect us when we are in the temptation but that does not mean we won’t face some very big and real sorrows. Look at Job. He could not bear his sorrows. Even today, we hear people saying that the worst thing anyone could ever face is the loss of a child. Job lost 10 children in one day! He could not bear it; no one could. He lost everything he owned and even his health. He was in so much pain and sorrow that he scraped his skin with potsherd; he asked over and over ‘why?’ he asked God to let him die, but he did bear up under the temptation to curse God. If you are seeking to offer comfort or advice to someone grieving a loss or a barren womb or any other of life’s struggles take heed to use this verse with care and in context.
It has taken many years of sorrow, prayer and trust in the Lord for me to begin to come to terms with my barrenness. God is good and gracious and answers prayers. He surprised us eight years ago with the opportunity to adopt a precious son. It was quite a surprise because we at the time were not trying to adopt. It was through a family in the Lord’s church whose grandchild we were asked to adopt. Two weeks later, we brought our baby home. God answered my prayers with a “Yes but not your way; My way is best” kind of answer. I am grateful every day that He had a plan for me and this sweet boy. I still struggle to understand why I was not able to birth children. However, I am trusting and believing that He works all things for good (Romans 8:28).
If you are a mother in waiting, know that you are not alone. God sees you and hears your prayers. He sees when you are “in bitterness of soul … and weep in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10). He knows when you are humbled before Him in prayer and He is there with you. The Spirit is speaking to Him on your behalf with groans we cannot understand (Romans 8:26) and Christ is there mediating between you and the Father, being the One who lived as a man he understands your sorrow (1 Timothy 2:5). He formed your inner parts in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139) and knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and the length of your days (Deuteronomy 30:20). He will, without fail, work even your waiting for good and for His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Do you know a mother in waiting? If so, treat her with care and love, but not pity and disgrace. Tell her you love her and are praying for her, but do not offer unwarranted advice or ill thought out comments. Don’t ask her to plan a baby shower, and be understanding if she does not even show up. She may find walking into a baby department to buy for someone else too sorrowful. Ask her over for coffee but do not exclude her because she does not have children the same age as yours. Be kind and loving to your fellow sister in the Lord and remember: always be grateful to the Father for the blessings of your children.
Renee Brown is wife of Michael and grateful mom to Jonathan who she homeschools. She is a member of the Pickerington congregation in Pickerington, OH. She serves as a co-teacher for the 3rd and 4th grade Bible class and she writes a weekly children’s bulletin and activity page that is directly related to the ministers sermon. You can read more about Renee and her family on her personal blog page, This Week @ Great Peace Academy www.greatpeaceacademy.blogspot.com