Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Response: Some Thoughts on Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is one of my favorite public speakers. Not only do I enjoy listening to his talks online, I follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and I enjoy reading the comments he makes about his work and family life. A couple of days ago, he mentioned a friend who was likely miscarrying twins for the second time in recent years. Most followers responded with promises to pray and general words of encouragement. Some came along and related -- said they too had experienced loss. Some even asked to be encouraged themselves. In the midst of all the relating or the sharing of compassionate words and understanding in response to a man's cry for help for his heartbroken friend, one person came along to say this:

"There's a spirit that needs to be addressed. Seek the Lord's face on this, fast, pray, have faith. Declare God's counsel, he does not will that these children die. There's probably some curse or sum underlying cause in effect."


The discussion thread began when a Godly man mentioned impending heartache for his presumably Godly friends. The discussion thread was full of comments from people saying, "This just happened to me -- how do I cope?" The thread was equally full of prayer and pain. I'm sure the heart behind the curse comment was genuine, and I'm sure the poster meant well, but in the end it was all open mouth, insert foot. Though I'm not presently blogging about infertility or pregnancy loss, it's not because I'm no longer infertile (I am) or because I haven't had a recent pregnancy loss (I have, just five months ago) -- we're just going a different direction to grow our family, so topics related to my personal fertility aren't on the tip of my tongue, or the tips of my fingers as it were. Still, I couldn't read this (likely unintentionally) insensitive comment and not respond. This is what I said:

@T.S. -- Can pregnancy loss be the result of sin? Sure. We live in a fallen world, we're a broken people. Is it always the result of a curse, as you mentioned? No. God's will is sovereign and He opens and shuts wombs as He wills. He does what He will for His glory, and He can and will be glorified even in the devastation of infertility and loss. Sarah was old and menopausal when God opened her womb to conceive (Gen. 18:10-14, 21:1-3), but she was infertile while her peers -- and their children -- conceived. "And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived" (Gen. 25:21-- in verse 26, you can see Isaac prayed for Rebekah's infertility for TWENTY YEARS before she bore their children). Jacob's Rachel was infertile (Gen. 30:1) until her sister and servants bore Jacob many children, "Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb" (Gen. 30:22). "Hannah had no children (1 Sam. 1:2)," but after Hannah prayed to God, "Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And IN DUE TIME Hannah conceived and bore a son" (1 Sam. 1:19-20). In these cases, there was no instance of sin or of a "curse" -- these are stories of God doing what God wanted to do in the timing He wanted to do it. These are the wives of faithful, Godly men -- men who would earnestly seek God no matter what, men who would pray for their wives, men who could be used to bring glory to God, even during heartache. It is unfair to assume that infertility and loss is the result of some secret sin or some lack of faith. Many times, that is far from the truth. Still, even if it were TOTALLY and most obviously true, as a Christ-follower, that is one of the most awful things you can say to a grieving mother or father. They should be met with love, grace and compassion (and a casserole never hurts).

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