Don’t Waste Your Infertility

It’s been a few months since we received the hard news that our struggle with infertility would require more treatment before we are able to proceed with trying to get pregnant. Few things feel worse than waking up from surgery and hearing the words, “It was worse than the doctor thought; you will need more treatment.” I went into surgery hopeful and came out feeling like I had been punched in the stomach (physically and emotionally). This is not how we planned. This is hardly what we wanted. And this diagnosis only prolonged, and solidified, that we weren’t just a couple who was having a hard time getting pregnant again. We were infertile, at least for the time being.

I wish I could say that my response to this news has always been Christ-like and admirable. It hasn’t. But through this trial, God has taught me some specific things about his character, my depravity, and his goodness in all things. I believe that God is absolutely sovereign over my infertility in the same way that I believe he was sovereign over my miscarriage. It was not a surprise to him. In fact, it was designed by him for my good, and he doesn’t want me to waste this suffering. What I’ve learned is hardly exhaustive, but it’s a start. If you are struggling with infertility, too, I pray that God uses these words to encourage you as we walk this road together.

Not wasting your infertility starts with a deep and abiding trust in the God who knows the end of your infertility.

He knows the end of it because he gave it to you (Gen. 50:20; Job 2:10; Ps. 88:6-7). But he also knows the end of it because only he can truly heal your body and give you a baby. Know God’s Word. Study it. Live off of it. It is in his Word that you will see God and know him more deeply. You will find that he is good all of the time, that he loves you more than you know, and that he wants to give you a greater knowledge of himself through this devastating trial. In his Word you will find comfort for your soul. Not wasting your infertility is a constant fight to see God as good, but it’s a fight worth having.

Not wasting your infertility means you worship even when your heart is breaking.

John Piper says that the “unwasted life is the one that continually puts Christ on display.” That’s what worship is, giving God the glory due his name. Worship means treasuring Christ above all things, even a baby.

Not wasting your infertility means praying boldly.

Only when we trust God as the all-sufficient creator, healer, and sustainer can we worship him and also pray to him boldly. Knowing God enables us to pray to him with confidence that he can and will act in our best interests. Infertility is a disease of the helpless. You can’t change your condition. You can’t make two blue lines show up on a pregnancy test instead of one. But God can. Your experience with being utterly helpless to change your circumstance puts you in fellowship with many biblical characters. Pray like King David in the Psalms (see Psalm 27, 28, 30, 56, 62 and many others). He faced great difficulty and tribulation. His prayers were honest, bold, and worshipful because he trusted in God to be his hope and salvation.

Not wasting your infertility doesn’t mean you can avoid grieving and pain.

This might seem like an odd addition, but the unwasted life isn’t the triumphalistic life. The apostle Paul accurately described walking through this life as, “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). That applies to infertility as well. We are sorrowful because it’s devastating, painful, and sometimes neverending. But we are rejoicing because we have hope that this is not all there is to life. It’s not that we are happy with our circumstances. There is nothing happy about infertility. Oh, but there is a great Savior who has given us everything we need through his death—including comfort in our pain.

Not wasting your infertility means taking your thoughts and emotions captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Infertility brings with it a minefield of scary scenarios and questions (What if I can’t get pregnant? What if I miscarry again? What if I can’t afford treatment?). Those thoughts tend to bring emotions, which then bring stress and worry. Infertility, like all suffering, has a way of putting pressure on us and our relationships. Infertility doesn’t bring with it a free pass on how I treat people, my husband especially. Nor does it give us license to daydream about the many “What if’s” that come with infertility. I have learned this the hard way. God gave us real emotions and feelings, but they are not morally neutral. And our husbands are real people who hurt just as much as we do. Talking to yourself, instead of listening to yourself, is especially helpful when you feel your emotions taking over. Ask yourself, “Is this feeling true?” (Phil. 4:8) If it is, you have a faithful, sympathetic Savior who understands your feelings. If it’s not, that same Savior is able to comfort you and change your feelings for his glory.

Practical suggestions and ways to stay busy can be helpful, but even more important, the practical cannot happen unless we embrace Christ as our greatest treasure in our season of infertility. Sure, we can find ways to stay busy to take our mind off the pain, and those are good things to do (I’ve done it). But busyness in order to run from the suffering is not the same things as busyness in order to fill the season with good things. God has designed suffering to chisel us more into the image of Christ, to draw us closer to himself, and to give us a greater vision and understanding of his glory. We could easily miss that if we fill our schedules in order to forget.

I don’t know the outcome of my journey of infertility. Right now, I know that I’ve still got a road ahead of me that needs to be traveled. I don’t know where you are, either. But I do know this: no matter where we are in the journey of infertility, God has a sure and good purpose for us. He will test us, he will chisel us, and he will show us more of himself every step of the way. And after he has tried us, by his grace, we will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

  • natarra

    when i found this website i was looking around, at first. but then i seen on the right hand side that there were questions answered. i had thought to myself, maybe i can ask a question about my pregnancy problems. then just as i scrolled down, God had laid this article on my lap. he told me, “its not that i don’t love you” as i read, i felt so foolish. i expect so much from my savior without putting any effort to Him. While me, thinking it was okay for being angry at Him for not doing anything of myself. So thank you. this was much needed!

  • Justin Taylor

    Thank you for writing this, Courtney!

    • david bartosik

      Agreed justin! thank you for your heart and willingness to share- I feel like all the emotions you listed are normal responses like shame, frustration, what if’s, anger and maybe even a desire to try every means possible by man even if that means passing over ethical boundaries. Your sensitivity and gentleness encourage my faith in the chance that my wife and I experience that too- it is a fear, but your encouragement to use these difficulties and even worship in them blows me away! again-thanks for your heart and Daniels as well. Even though he didn’t write it I can imagine that it is both of you battling together through this and I hope your message inspires others to trust God more

  • Dan Staifer


    My wife and I also struggled with this and saw a hole in the way the church helps couples here. I wrote about our issues here. “Just Relax. It’ll happen one day.”

    Thank you for adding your voice to an area where so many are silent.

    Praying you and Daniel.

  • Nancy Guthrie

    Courtney, I can’t help but think that your Father is so very pleased with your solid trust in him and determination to worship him in this ongoing disappointment.

  • Deanna

    Thank you for writing this! Praying for you and your husband.

  • Joshua


    In 2005, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I’ve been cancer free since that time, but my treatments made pregnancy for my wife and I an impossibility, if not an unwise pursuit. We were crushed. We know the pain very well. Today, I know that our infertility was just for us. It was a gift given to us for God’s unique and sovereign purposes, so that we might experience something life transforming. As far as we can humanly discern, He never intended for us to get pregnant. He always intended for us to adopt. And, that’s what we did. Less than one year ago God blessed us with Karis, meaning Grace, and our lives have never been the same. At 15 months old, she is, unequivocally, our daughter.

    I say this knowing that you and your husband have probably considered adoption. Maybe you have adopted, but didn’t share that with us. So, I say this for the other readers who may struggle with infertility, like my wife and I. Adoption is not Plan B. It is Plan G. It is a picture of what God has done for his children spiritually in the Gospel.

    With something like 150,000,000 orphans in the world, of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, I humbly and respectfully submit that if we as God’s people want to not waste our God ordained infertility, then embracing adoption as a gift and a calling and helping others to adopt is the way.

    What Satan intended for our demise, God intended for our good, and the good of millions of children in desperate need of a “forever family.”

    Grace and peace to you along the way.

    • hope

      As I started reading the above article, I quickly searched for the word “adopt”–I felt sure she would arrive there…our story is similar to yours, and yes, adoption was His plan for us all along. We didn’t stay on the infertility path long enough to try all the other options out there, we heard Him and we are forever blessed. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Kevin Cuthbertson


    I would at least change one word in your post: “If we as God’s people want to not waste our God ordained infertility, then embracing adoption as a gift and a calling and helping others to adopt is the way.”

    I wouldn’t say it is “the” way, only that it is “a” way.

    • Joshua

      My choice of articles was mostly for emphasis ;-)

  • Karen White

    I, too, echo Joshua’s comments re: adoption. How selfish we as Christians are to be unwilling to adopt children (whether we can or can’t have our ‘own’) when it is such a crystal-clear representation of the gospel.

    Quite frankly, as I interact with and listen to my unsaved friends talk about how pro-life people seem so unwilling to adopt kids, I have to agree with them. It’s hypocrisy on our part.

    I am determined to adopt as soon as I am financially able (I’m in medical school right now).

    Think about it. Why does it have to be your own child? So many kids out there need parents and loving homes. Why isn’t that our priority?

    • Stephanie

      Sensitivity might be best here… calling someone selfish because they are not yet ready to adopt comes across a little harsh.

  • Jason

    What about the opposite end of the spectrum. What about people who are fertile yet don’t trust God in their fertility and take measures into their own hands and have procedures done to prevent conception. I think that issue should be addressed somehow as well. Often I hear (from “Christians”), that they’re done having children, or they only want 2, etc. Are they really trusting God with their fertility?

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  • Greg

    Please do consider adoption.

    I wish I hadn’t waited so long to agree with my wife about adoption. Not long, in retrospect, I guess, but … she went through so much, including painful surgery, for me :(

    We did, in the end, adopt four times and have never regretted it :) One of my favorite sayings is “adoption is an event, not a condition.” There really is no difference, other than our children are a lot better looking than us ;)

  • A.V.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Courtney! Sometimes this journey is a quiet one, not much talked about in the church. It is a GREAT encouragement to me as we have been struggling with secondary infertility. I am grateful for our providential God who laid this on your heart to write at this time and I ran across it! Thank you again for reminding us of how to lean on our Lord during this difficult time.
    PS. Re: some of the previous comments, sometimes adoption is not an option financially or due to living circumstances (very difficult to achieve as a Christian in our state). Though we would like to adopt, it is not possible at this time.

    • Stephanie

      A.V. —

      There is a very economical way to adopt…the foster care system, our very own backyard (assuming you live in the USA). There are hundreds of thousands of children waiting for forever families and in most states, there is no cost to adopt them. I have yet to hear of a couple not able to adopt out of the foster care system because they are Christians. And if it is a little more difficult, and you truly have a desire to adopt, don’t let those difficulties get in your way. Our God is bigger.

      I have struggled with primary infertility for almost 5 years and don’t think I will ever get over it. The hurt is the deepest, most painful I have ever dealt with in my life. But, I have accepted it as God’s will for our lives. As Job 13:15 says “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” (Still praying there will be a miracle biological child.)

      We are now foster parents to three beautiful children and hope to adopt them (the case is somewhat up in the air right now). It’s been tough, but such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us.

      I pray God’s blessings on your journey as you seek God’s direction for your family.

  • Joshua


    I’m sorry to hear that your family is struggling w/infertility. The desire for children is a good desire given to us by our loving Father. I would, w/respect, challenge you to re-evaluate your message concerning adoption, pray thoroughly, and then research/reach out to people in the adoption community who can help you work through your fears/concerns. The concerns you mention, that adoption is too expensive, that the state won’t let Christians adopt, etc. are all, and I say this w/all due respect, patently false. There are people who can show you why/how. We have witnessed families fund raise *all* of their adoption costs…from 18K to 30K.

    So to anyone considering adoption…fertility therapies can cost thousands of dollars, some have high ethical dilemmas for us as Christians and health considerations for women…and none of them can promise anything, ultimately.

    On the other hand, I can tell you that unless you have a criminal background or something of the sort that would preclude you from being with children to begin with, adoption will almost certainly provide you with the child God has for you. And as a wise person once said, God funds what he favors. And if the Gospel teaches us anything, He favors the adoption of orphans.

    • Laura

      That’s probably true in America, Joshua, but there are some Western countries that make adoption virtually impossible, or so difficult that it’s too much heartache for some families to take on.

      Biological and adopted children are both a gift from God, but I believe that there are rare circumstances when God withholds the blessing of children to enable a couple to pursue another life path that it would be impossible to take children down. I refuse to stand in judgment over a couple who is facing such a journey.

      • Joshua


        1) If adoption is too much of a “heartache” for a given couple, then I would suggest that parenting as a whole should be re-evaluated. IVF, w/its low success rates, is frequently a heart-breaker.

        2) I agree w/you, if I’m understanding you correctly, that God may be telling some couples, in effect, “I don’t want you to have children.” Or at least, “Not now.”

        3) I have never suggested that anyone “stand in judgment” over anyone. But, you cannot invoke the “Judge not” escape clause in the context of this dialogue. If I would ask anyone to make a judgment call, it would be to consider the ethical-moral-biblical implications of IVF. They are legitimate, serious, and demand an answer beyond, “Judge not” which is the great Christian flight from controversy in this generation.

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  • Jacob Park

    My wife and I have also been struggling with infertility.
    Sometimes I feel as if the hand of God is against me, but then I am reminded that He indeed is the author of life. He gives and takes, and we never get what we deserve in this fallen, broken world. It’s by Grace that we have the breath of life.

    I’ve looked into adoption as well, but being Canadian citizens living abroad (in the US), we can’t adopt unless we are physically living in Canada… We might end up having to move back to Canada.

    I guess it comes to a place where the only thing we can really do is pray. Jesus be glorified through this.

    Please remember to keep orphans and infertile couples in prayer.


  • JA

    Thank you for your encouraging words. My wife and I have been struggling with infertilities for several years. It has been very difficult and we have felt that no one really understands what we are going through. Jesus has proven Himself faithful over and over even when we haven’t.

    For those who wrote about adoption…We actually started the process became a waiting family and were “waiting” for a year. We felt that we needed to put that on hold while we began infertility treatments (don’t judge…). We believe that this is what the Lord has for us know. We may go back to adoption in the future. It is very hurtful when people say such harsh words about being “closed” to adoption. One thing that the Lord has taught us through infertility is that each person has a story and we need to be slow to criticize others without understanding their story. Many people who know us do not know our struggle because we don’t want infertility to define us. We want Christ to be our center and not the struggle.

    Christ is Supreme in Everything!

  • TJ


    We also thank you for your encouraging words. For the most part, we have come to peace with our infertility, continually entrusting our inability to reproduce to the Father of all good gifts. But it sure is hard sometimes. We keep on searching our own hearts, and keep on submitting to His wise, loving plan, and keep on seeking to love others in the midst of our loss, that He may be pleased. We continue to ask ourselves, “How can we use our infertility for His glory!” We don’t want to waste something so hard.

    To Joshua (and a few others here), regarding adoption:

    Please use discretion when challenging people to adopt. Not everyone is able to, even given your statements (most of which are accurate). After adopting our most wonderful daughter 3 years ago, the country in which we live changed their laws, making it impossible for us to adopt again as long as we live here. In others words, it is impossible for us to adopt, unless God moves the hearts and pens of our chosen country’s legislature. This is painful for us and commends our hearts to pray for change (esp because our country boasts one of the world’s highest populations of orphans). We would LOVE to adopt again, but can’t. We don’t need another person telling us that we could/should adopt again when they have no idea about our particular experience. We often see children abandoned on the side of the road; we often visit a local orphanage in which many children languish; or we see postings in the local news of another abandoned girl… it breaks our heart.

    “Give justice tot he weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute…” Ps 82:3

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  • Erik

    I have a serious question about infertility and sex in a Christian marriage and I’m very concerned. I’m very pro-life and I believe that life begins at conception. My concern is about what to do if my wife and I are trying to get pregnant and she is able to conceive but is unable to become pregnant because of a problem with her uterus. If we know that sex is likely to result in conception but not likely (almost not possible) to result in implantation of the fertilized egg and pregnancy, is it wrong to continue to have unprotected sex? Every time we conceive knowing that she is unable to implant, isn’t that like having an abortion or using an IUD that kills the fertilized egg? Is it sinful to keep trying to get pregnant if it always results in abortion-like situations? Is it wrong to have sex even if we aren’t trying to get pregnant (because we know she cant) without worrying whether or not she conceives?

    • YP


      I don’t quite understand what you mean by saying “being able to conceive but is unable to become pregnant”, then how did you know you were conceived? By the time you’re able to have a positive pregnancy test, you’ve got fertilized egg implanted for at least a week. The conception (forming a fertilized egg) generally happens in fallopian tubes, then it will take 6 days for the fertilized egg to travel to uterus to implant. It will take another week for the pregnancy hormone to rise to a detectable level for home pregnancy tests. Based on your description, I suspect what you might have had were early pregnancy losses (or chemical pregnancy). This usually is a result of unhealthy fertilized eggs, but if your wife has been diagnosed with uterus problem(s), it can happen, too.

      If you and your wife have good sperms and eggs to form good fertilized eggs (a lot of infertile couples don’t have that, especially if wives are older), and if you can accept the concept of surrogate mothers (which a lot of people have a problem with), then you might be able to have biological children through other people’s wombs.

      I dont’ believe having unprotected sex in your situation equals to killing fertilized eggs. Just like planting seeds in a hard and infertile ground, the seeds might have hard time growing to become trees, and may die in their early stage of life, but it doesn’t mean that you’re killing the seeds/trees. On the contrary, you’re giving them a chance a life. And who knows you might have one tough seed falling in a softer spot of the ground, then you’ll have a tree (or a true pregnancy).

      The only problem is that it might be hard for you (especially your wife) to have many positive pregnancy tests but end up with early miscarriages. Pray that God will heal her womb!

      Sex is one of the most precious gifts that God gives married couples, and it also glorifies Him. So don’t let infertility ruin this gift. This is one challenge that many infertile couples have to face in their marital relationships.

  • sam

    i enjoyed seeing this post on TGC website, as infertility is very close to the my heart. I enjoyed the vast majority of your thoughts on suffering, save “it was designed by him for my good” your infertility wasn’t designed by God. Often times Romans 8:28 is interpreted as all things are good for the Glory of God, but the statement is “all things work together for good”. All things are not good. The righteous life Job lived was good, the terror and horror that came from the hand of Satan was not in any way good. We don’t look at that story and say, jobs suffering was good, but rather what kind of God would any man endure that much for? He must be a glorious and wonderful God! The world is fallen and yet our weaknesses and imperfections can be used for the glory of God. As God was glorified through Job and through Paul as he said in 2 Cor 12:9 my grace is sufficient for you, he did not stick the “thorn in Paul’s side”, that thorn would not have been there in a non-fallen world, and it will be removed as Paul walks through the pearly gates. As he said to Paul “my power is made perfect in weakness” and we boast of our weaknesses so that the power of God may rest on us. They are not from God, they are used by God. You were not intended by God to be infertile, you were not intended to have a miscarriage. I was not intended by God to have cancer, nor my adopted children to have been abused and neglected, but to the Glory and praise of God he has brought together both and resulted in my and my wife’s praise of him.
    maybe my thoughts to you had to do with a play on your words, either way,
    brother in Christ,

    • Joshua


      What exactly do you do with verses like, say, Isaiah 45:7, which reads:

      I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and **create calamity**, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (ESV)

      • sam

        I think i would defer to Jonathan Edward’s “The nature of true virtue” for a more exhaustive look at what is good. ALL things are under the sovereignty of God. If through that sovereignty it appears as though God was the author of calamity, as Christ on the Cross was the hand of God weaving salvation into the world, it still does not mean that event inherently is GOOD. God allowing Satan to make Job suffer could, in one perspective, mean that God is the author of that calamity. Questions of time and God being in time come out here, but if we conclude all suffering began after the fall, then some events become somewhat more black and white. God’s plan is perfect, our perception of that plan, and the events that occur within it, will not be so black and white, but that is where faith comes in and we must conclude with God in Isaiah 45:7 “I am the Lord” . As John Piper would say “all good things and all bad things turned for good are because of and for the glory God.
        brother in Christ,

    • Stacey

      Thank you for clarifying this! This is in keeping with my understanding. Gosh, felt quite condemned when reading that particular part of the post. Thank you!

  • Devin Rose

    As part of a couple who has also struggled with infertility, I know how it feels. I recommend learning about fertility awareness, especially the Creighton method, and you could look up Dr. Hilgers institute as well, that has trained many doctors around the country in truly helping couples solve the root medical issues causing their infertility.

    God bless,

  • Ginny

    Stephanie —

    Thank you for speaking Biblical truth into this often unspoken matter. Oh how my heart needed these reminders, monthly…and hourly! My husband and I have been struggling with infertility almost two years, and the greatest encouragement in this process has been to watch the faith of others relying upon God’s graces despite their difficulties. I pray that by striving to live by His mercies, I may grow in faith and be an encouragement to others as well.

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  • LD

    Don’t waste your infertility experience. Use it to come along side others going through the same. To encourage them, to validate their feelings, to be a listening hear. Just as you have done in this comment section! :)

  • Tina

    Thank you for sharing this! I am also struggling with infertility, and this article has encouraged me. May Christ prove to be most precious to us!

  • Candice

    Yes! Thank you for writing so openly and honestly about the struggles we have when we face infertility. There are times when I have felt guilty for being sad or grieving during our infertility. I was especially encouraged by this section “We are sorrowful because it’s devastating, painful, and sometimes neverending. But we are rejoicing because we have hope that this is not all there is to life. It’s not that we are happy with our circumstances. There is nothing happy about infertility. Oh, but there is a great Savior who has given us everything we need through his death—including comfort in our pain.”
    I’m also reminded of 2 Peter 1:3-9 “3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
    5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
    He has truly given us everything we need. I pray that I can glorify the Lord during this process and make every effort to cling to Him and that through this He will continue to sanctify me.

    Striving to Serve Him,

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  • Mary

    This is a beautiful example of faith in the midst of devastating pain. Thank you for sharing your heart on this subject. I feel so broken, and have gone through so many emotions in my own struggle with infertility. It was good to be reminded that I need to not waste an opportunity. I ministered to many women in the early years, but as time goes on, I have let fear take hold. I must resist that, and cling to the truth of God’s word. I desire to shine His light in all situations, through all my days. Sometimes I need to “refocus”, and the Lord used your article to help me do that. Praise the Lord! I have added you to my prayer list, Courtney, and believe the Lord for the desires of your heart. God bless you.
    Your sister in Christ, Mary

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