This word stings. Although I’ve used it to describe my condition, I hate it. I feared that using it would only re-affirm the thing which I’m praying will someday no longer be true.

Until one day I read this:

Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Isaiah 54:1

His words. Not mine. He called her the dreaded word she was hoping would only be a very small descriptor in a long list of positives about who she was. He pointed out the thing she hoped no one would notice, the wasteland she tried to plant flowers around and pretty-up.

Then it dawned on me. These words are infused with love. He told me everything I ever did. Whether to the nation of Israel (to whom these words were intended) or the woman who spends one week of the month re-visiting grief, He knows the darkest place.

And there is something so comforting about God’s ability to call a spade a spade and go to the place I hope no one ever notices.

My biggest fear at a baby shower is that someone might ask me to write down on a note-card advice about getting through labor and delivery. I’m good at lingering around the food and making small talk, but my blood pressure starts to rise when we all circle around the plump mom-to-be and watch her open gifts that elicit war stories I’m unacquainted with.

Oh please, no one notice me.

And should the host so graciously allow us to measure this poor woman’s belly with our toilet paper, I secretly decide that’s my time to bolt.

Barenness was not God’s intent for me. Sickness, depravity, loss … those are not things manufactured by a good and glorious God. Does He allow them? Are they still under His sovereign control? Does He use them?

Of course.

But I refuse to believe that God casts a powerless gaze on my broken wings while piously shrugging and saying: what will be, will be.

So month after month, when I re-visit that awful heartache of hope and promise and dreaming yet again put on hold, the loss I feel is not because I’m “missing out” on yet another season of great maternity clothes. It’s not because I’m not satisfied with the wonderful children God has given me (to the contrary, I sometimes wonder if I could ever love another as much as I love Eden and Caleb).

It’s not because I want to be able to stand in the circles at parties or after church and contribute to conversation on my own pre-natal adventures.

The loss I feel is because I am living the Fall.

We all do — I just so happen to have a condition which reminds me of it, month after month.

So when He calls out to Israel (and to me), “hey you, barren woman!” I feel a wave of relief. He already knows about what I want to hide. He’s acquainted with the shame. He feels my reproach.

And it’s not the end of the story.

He tells “her” (Israel in this case, or me) she will expand. He promises her reprieve. He gives reason to hope.

It would be a lot easier if I just succumbed to the notion that God intended things to be this way forever. He has blessed me so abundantly through my loss. I can’t imagine our home without Eden and Caleb and our dreams to adopt may never had come to fruition had we put them off until our biological lot was “full”. I can’t imagine my experience with Him had I not been walking with this limp. He has transformed me through this pain.

But it would be easy to stop here–at that–and trust in a false notion that God doesn’t Himself weep at my broken body, the tainted version of His image.

Hope is unwieldy. It’s inconvenient. Choosing to engage with it, over and over again, feels a bit like insanity.

But the thin line between insanity and faith is the one I am willing to risk, if it means I could touch, impact, even move His heart with my prayers. I want a miracle. Not for the show or the hype. But because the God I love is one of miracles.

And if I pray this prayer for healing until my death to no avail, I will know that I pleased God with my expectancy.

We are far too easily satisfied with our expectations of a “normal” God.

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7 Responses to “Barrenness”

  1. Jill on

    I wonder if a standing ovaton in blogging is possible – if so you would see me doing just that with this post. Sara – truly you are an incredible writer your words are filled with grace and depth and love. They are like soft breezes and whispers of His love. I am touched deeply by your honesty and transparency.

    With Great expectation I wait with you sweet friend! Because for us all Greater things are to COME!


  2. serah on

    you speak my heart perfectly with your eloquent words. honestly, every time i read your posts i think “that’s exactly me too!” (baby showers and all). i think we could be the best of friends. 🙂 i love your realness and vulnerability while always giving glory to the Lord. keep it up, you are encouraging so many of us out here. i’m holding out for my miracle and yours now too.

  3. Anne Worthington on

    I really appreciate this line:

    “And there is something so comforting about God’s ability to call a spade a spade and go to the place I hope no one ever notices.”

    Thank you for reminding me about Hope.

  4. Kendell on

    I read this last night and have been thinking about it ever since. I have no words, Sara. Your heart is truly beautiful.

  5. Mandy Q on


    I wrote a comment in your “last” post before your break (I’m a friend of Nate’s from college). I wanted to thank you for returning to writing!

    Yours is a blog I regularly read, as my husband and I are in a similar place. We are beginning the adoption process, as this is something we both want to do at some point, at the same time that we mourn a biological child each month. I have struggled with hope and the hurt and confusion that it brings but also know that we are called to it and Who we hope in is not without substance.

    Just wanted to say thanks for being a voice that speaks to where I am and encourages a fellow pilgrim to continue along the road.


  6. emily russell on

    Oh, Sara!
    I needed this today! This reminder to contine to hope and pray for miracles, with a heart that is willing to accept what a loving Father allows, regardless.

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