May 23, 2008

The Hurt That Will Not Go Away

1 Samuel 1:1-20

The LORD had closed her womb.
1 Samuel 1:5


“The LORD had closed her womb.” These words express a hurt that only those who have felt the pain of childlessness can ever know. Even Hannah’s husband showed he did not understand when he asked, “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Her pastor, Eli, did not understand either. When Hannah was pouring out her anguish to the Lord, Eli thought she was drunk.

During my ministry I did not even come close to understanding the pain of childlessness until our daughter and her husband were unable to have children. It took several years and one miscarriage, and neverending, costly tests before the Lord answered their prayers. This is how she describes the pain: “Our infertility created a hole in my heart … a painful hole that started in my stomach and ran all the way up to my heart.” She added, “I did not dare to hope because I could barely handle the anguish when it was taken away.”

We learned a lot from their experience. While couples can plan not to have children, only God can give us children. If you are praying to have a child, keep on praying and don’t give up hope unless it’s clear that God’s will for you is otherwise. And if the answer to your prayers is no, surrender your hurt to the Lord, and begin to consider other options. Adoption was the answer for our children when God said no to a second child.

Lord, we pray for all who live with the pain of childlessness. Give everyone your peace, we pray, and help hopeful parents know what your will is for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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