They sit in your services every week. They worship alongside you. They listen to your sermons. They serve Christ with hearts crushed by the weight of an empty cradle. They are infertile.
The heart of God is touched by infertility. Marriages affected by it are found throughout the Bible: Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Marriages touched by infertility are also found throughout our churches. One out of every eight married couples struggles with unwanted childlessness. How do you minister to those who are hurting and sometimes overlooked?
Allow me to share some practical ways to help.
Be sensitive on hard days like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. Pray for couples who desire to be parents.
If you give gifts to moms and dads, have a gift available to those struggling with infertility and loss. Perhaps a card sharing how you pray for them: strength on hard days; timely encouragement; healing for diseases that affect conception; healing for grief over losses; strength for marriage.
Understand their Grief
Many infertile couples experience miscarriage. Minister to married couples as if they were grieving a two-year-old. The death of a child at any age is a devastating loss.
Never say: You can always have another baby. Even if they are blessed with a home full of other children, they will always grieve this baby.
Host a Memorial
Host a memorial service honoring and remembering miscarried and stillborn babies to the married couples in your community.
Protect Their Hearts
Protect hearts that are already hurting. Don’t ask women who are infertileor who have miscarriedto host baby showers or help with Mothers’ Day events.
Create a Small Group
Launch a small group for couples who are walking through infertility.
Discuss tensions that can grow between husbands and wives and ways to communicate through the process. Discuss grief, doubts, and Gods faithfulness. And consider opening it up as a community-wide group.
Recognize the Cycle
Remember that infertile couples grieve anew every 28 days, when another cycle signals another failed attempt at conception.
As leaders, youre familiar with Philippians 4:13, yet ministry begins with verse 14: Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction, (NASB).
Certainly, God gives infertile couples strength to ride that 28-day roller coaster of expensive medications, doctors appointments, and anxiety, not knowing until the end of the ride if they will be released or confined for another 28 days.
Nevertheless, when you walk alongside couples struggling with infertility, when you make a difficult season a little less isolating, when you share their affliction, you have done well.
Beth Forbus, founder of Sarahs Laughter: Christian Support for Infertility & Child Loss, has written three books on infertility and loss, including an Infertility Bible study for groups. If you have questions about launching your own infertility ministry, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, including daily devotions, please visit www.sarahs-laughter.com.