Infertility and Suffering

Infertility and Suffering July 14, 2011

My friend Ellen Painter Dollar has a guest post on her blog, Choices that Matter: “Beating on the Chest of God: Christian Responses to Infertility and Suffering.” It’s a poignant and helpful reflection upon what not to say to someone who is dealing with the pain of infertility in particular, and even more so an honest look at how Christians can suffer with integrity and honesty before God. I’d like to quote the whole essay in full, but for now I’ll give you a glimpse of the wisdom offered in this post, first on suffering in general:

Suffering can be a rich and wondrous place in which to encounter God. But in a culture like ours, one that has even permeated the church, we cannot suffer. In a culture that praises science, medicine, and healing (and according to the CDC prescribes more antidepressants than any other drug), we feel compelled to quickly find a remedy because suffering is too uncomfortable, for the sufferer and for those around her. We are accustomed to learning about God’s goodness through answered prayers and blessings that bring joy. We know God loves us when he lifts our burden and heals our pain. To suffer is to feel God’s absence.

But I’ve learned the most about God’s love in a place of suffering. Consider the place where God’s love for the world is brought into sharpest focus: at the cross of Christ, the place of ultimate suffering and brokenness. The shadow of the cross can be a powerful place to meet a God we usually seek under rainbows and blue skies. I’ve come to believe that when we suffer, we are closest to the heart of God.

And also as it relates to infertility in particular:

My core question is this: If those of us who face the anguish of infertility were given the cultural and theological space to inhabit our suffering, to beat upon the chest of God, if we were encouraged to embrace suffering as a spiritual gift, and if our brothers and sisters in Christ would weep and scream and sit in silent exhaustion with us, rather than admonish us to simple faith and easy joy, would that change the way we approach reproductive technologies? If we felt free to suffer, would we perhaps feel less compelled to resolve our infertility through technological means?

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