A Letter to Those Facing Infertility

by Chris Pennington

man sitting and crying holding a pregnancy test with his wife in the background

As a pastor, I’m often made aware of private battles, temptations, pains, and joys. A few years back, God sent a couple our way who was struggling with infertility.

After praying with this couple, I sat down a few weeks later and wrote them the following letter. I share it here with their permission as a help if you also face this difficult trial and trust God will use it to encourage your heart in faith.

Personal heartaches like infertility often grow heavier during seasons of national celebration, so I’d like to turn my attention to those who want to celebrate but feel the isolating pain of this particular grief during the Christmas season.

Dear Friend,

I wanted to write you a brief note of encouragement with the hope that carefully thought-out words, written down, would both carry more gravity and would have longer staying power.

I know your infertility has been very difficult on you both — as well it should be. I wanted to confirm something I trust you’ve already sensed. We hurt alongside you and with you. Since you all are hurting, we’re hurting. Since you are praying, so are we. In a word, you are not alone.

I’m also aware that when prayers — especially persistent, deep-felt, and personal ones — go unanswered, even the strongest of believers find questions start to rise in the mind. Questions like, “Does God really care?” and “Why would God not answer something that means so much to me?” and “Does prayer even work?” or even “Does God really even exist?”

I’m not assuming you’ve thought any or all of these, but they are natural doubts that seem to find footing when prayers go unanswered. Whenever you are on the doubt-faith spectrum, can I offer a few words of encouragement?

1. There is no shame in doubt.

There is no shame in doubt as long as that doubt brings us to ask our questions to God’s Word.

Doubt is one of God’s choice tools, as it carries a strange momentum. Doubt has the power to move our hearts with more velocity and earnestness than most things. So lean into God’s Word with any of those questions you may have.

Leverage the current of doubt (if you’re struggling at all with any questions) to propel you to faith. Don’t leave the questions/doubts unanswered and alone. In time, bring those doubts to God and let him speak into them. Abandoned doubts typically fester and grow.

2. Look to the cross for evidence of God’s love.

It’s natural to look at many other circumstances to determine if God loves you. In other words, it’s normal to base our understanding of God’s love on our feelings, circumstances, prayers, etc., but those can lead us astray.

God means us to chiefly evaluate his love and care for us based on Christ’s work on the cross. Indeed, all his other kindnesses to us are based on that finished work. This is why God says, “every spiritual blessing [from God] is in Christ” (Eph 1:3) and why he argues that if he “gave Jesus up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32).

In other words, the gift of Christ is our ground of confidence for all of God’s kindnesses to us. Indeed, even Christ’s daily, constant intercession for us is grounded in his work on the cross (Rom 8:32; Heb 7:25; 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1–2).

3. God’s current answer of “no” or “not yet” is not evil or wrong.

Jesus often gives the analogy of a son asking his father for a fish or a loaf of bread (cf. Luke 11:10–13). He argues that if human fathers will not give something harmful to their sons—namely, a scorpion or stone—then God will also never give us something “evil” when we ask him a request.

The answer right now may seem like God has given you something harmful and evil, but that thought is unbiblical. It’s a powerful thought, but a wrong one. God only ever works for our good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

4. God’s ways are mysterious, but his character isn’t.

If you remember Acts 12, James is killed while God miraculously rescues Peter from prison with an earthquake. Why one and not the other? You can only imagine what James’ family member, John the Apostle, thought. He must have asked that question!

But in 1 John 4, the apostle writes two curious things. First, he says “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8), meaning that he is settled in who God is even if he doesn’t always understand what God is doing. Secondly, he writes that God’s love was “made manifest…[by sending] his Son into the world” (1 John 4:9) and that true love is that God “sent his Son to be the propitiation (i.e., the sacrifice that satisfied God’s wrath) for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

So he does what we talked about a few paragraphs back. He lets the cross be the key indicator of God’s love. I don’t know why one couple has been allowed to conceive and another hasn’t. But I do know who God is: just (Gen 18:25), faithful (Ps 119:71), good (Ps 86:5), merciful (Ps 103:13), love (1 Jn 4:8, 10), etc.


I don’t know if you needed to hear any of these things today, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I do want you to know three things—things I hope this letter has conveyed.

God loves you. We love you. We are praying for you.

I hope this little note is an encouragement on these fronts. Thank you for letting us sorrow, joy, and pray along with you.

Love, Pastor

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