As with other trials in my life, I tried to navigate infertility like a good Christian and dove into Scripture. But my goal wasn’t to know God better or deepen my gratitude for salvation. I wanted assurance He’d give me a baby.
Longing for a child sometimes clouds our lens for viewing God’s Word. We take verses out of context and treat general principles like specific promises tailored to us and our circumstances. Through subtle mistakes, we tweak Scripture to mean what we want it to say, rather than what the Author intended.
Friends, I’m going to rip off the Band-Aid and cut right to the wound:
God’s Word doesn’t promise us a baby.
Of the many incredible, undeserved promises the Lord communicates through Scripture, none of them say or imply that everyone who has faith in Christ will conceive a child.
Though it might hurt us temporarily, we need to discern common false promises claimed as biblical guarantees of baby delivery. When we understand the problems with these claims, and recognize the good news the Bible reveals, we can better grasp the rock-solid assurance of God’s true promises to us.
False promise #1: God promised and delivered a baby to Sarah, so He’ll do the same for me.
Problem: This misapplies a specific promise God made in His covenant with Abraham, when He vowed to give Abraham land and make him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-2). To fulfill that promise, He did the impossible and delivered Isaac through barren Sarah. Nowhere in the story does God vow to provide every infertile couple with miraculous conception.
Good news: While we can’t hijack God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah, we can still gain encouragement from their story. Our gracious Father provides abundant mercy to Abraham, Sarah, and her servant Hagar through the comfort of His presence. Even when Sarah scoffs at His words, God acts kindly and simply states the truth of His power (“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14a). We can study the lives of these biblical figures and believe that God is faithful to His children in keeping with His covenant of grace.
False promise #2: God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, so that must mean He’ll enable me to get pregnant.
Problem: Our Creator initially issued this command to Adam and Eve after He breathed life into them in the garden (Genesis 1:28), then repeated it to Noah and his sons following the flood (Genesis 9:1). In both cases, God’s reason for giving this command was to tell His people to populate and fill the Earth with His glory. These passages don’t say He gives everyone the physical ability to add to the population.
Consider the medical facts: Some men and women don’t have the necessary anatomy or hormonal functions; some couples have genetic incompatibilities; some couples never learn why the tests always come back negative. Viewing the mandate to be fruitful and multiply as a promise of pregnancy defies science. It also implies that God owes us a baby, an idea that clearly contradicts Scripture. The Alpha and Omega doesn’t owe us anything. We deserve death, not life. Every good thing He gives is a gift of grace. And the best gift of all isn’t the fruit He provides; it’s the ability to abide in the Vine.
Good news: Biological and adopted children aren’t the only type of “fruit” Christians bear. Jesus told His followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). That means we multiply through procreation and discipleship. We add to the spiritual family of God by sharing the gospel with those who don’t believe and nurturing those who are younger in faith.
Friends, if you haven’t been able to conceive and carry a child, don’t despair thinking God has prevented you from producing goodness in this life. By the work of His Spirit in the power of His Son, we bear fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:10) – not just to our family or offspring, but to everyone we meet.
False promise #3: God promised to heal me, so He’ll fix my body to enable pregnancy.
Problem: Yes, Jesus healed multiple people during His ministry on Earth. Yes, God provided healing through the hands of prophets, disciples, and apostles. Yes, He still heals people today in miraculous ways. But the Bible never promises God will heal every physical ailment we suffer in this world while we still draw breath here.
The Father didn’t spare His own Son from beating, injury, and crucifixion because it was part of His plan for redemption. Because we’re united with Christ in His death and suffering, and are living in a fallen, sin-sick world, we know our lives will involve some measure of pain as we take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).
Good news: In this life, we have trouble; we have heartache and backache and broken limbs and inept reproductive parts. Yet God didn’t confine our existence to this life; He made us for eternity. Though our bodies decay over time, our inner lives are being renewed every day (1 Corinthians 4:16). While He might not resolve the physical problems causing our infertility, He continually sustains us with fresh mercies, and will one day give us glorified bodies like our resurrected Redeemer (Philippians 3:21).
God graciously allows us to approach Him and ask for physical healing. We can do so with confidence in His power and kindness, while thanking Him for healing us of our most fatal disease, sin. Our God might choose to heal us here on Earth, or He might not. Either way, His character stands; He is still good.
False promise #4: God promised to give me the desires of my heart, so He’ll give me a baby.
Problem: It’s a verse that trips up many longing souls: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). If we read this verse out of context, we might assume it says that if we love God, He’ll give us what we want. But this can’t be true. Some of our desires are sinful. Some are good, but we want them for the wrong reasons. Some are good, but God in His wisdom decides they’re not what’s best for us. We know His ways are higher than ours, though we might not fully understand them (Isaiah 55:9).
When we read the whole chapter of Psalm 37, we see David declaring God’s righteousness and justice, and asserting that he’ll trust in the Lord even while threatened by enemies and evildoers. He doesn’t mention desires for good health, riches, earthly relationships, or any tangible object. What David loves is God’s law (Psalm 37:31). What he wants – what he delights in – is God Himself.
Good news: Jesus demonstrated how we can handle unfulfilled desires. Before His ascent to Calvary, Christ asked His Father to remove the cup of suffering He knew would be poured out on Him. Yet He said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We can ask the Lord to grant us our desire for a child while surrendering the outcome to His will. And our prayers shouldn’t end there. Looking to the example Jesus provided at Gethsemane, we need to pray that God would align our hearts with His, that we would desire what He desires and realize we’re ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
Real promises, true hope
Friends, I realize these truths might crush you. Understanding that God doesn’t promise pregnancy or parenthood can feel defeating, like all hope is lost. But I believe accepting truth will yield the opposite result.
When we develop a more accurate view of God and His Word, we deepen our faith in Him, avoid the disappointment of false assurance, and enjoy the freedom of realizing that a baby isn’t a prize we earn for good behavior, or lose because we failed to hold up our end of a bargain.
Hear this truth and take heart: God isn’t denying you a baby because you lack faith. God’s will isn’t determined by our good deeds or mistakes. Your Father is working through your infertility for His glory and your good, as He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Fight for the faith to believe that whatever happens through your infertility journey – whether you get pregnant or not, whether you adopt or not – He is showering grace upon you, His beloved child. He is fulfilling and exceeding His promised blessings beyond all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Charles Spurgeon describes this well in a little book called “God Promises You”:
“God promised to give His own Son, and even His own self, to His people, and He did it. Princes draw a line somewhere, but the Lord sets no bounds to the gifts which He ordains for His children.”
Boundless. Incomparable. Exceedingly great and precious. These are the promises of God. Hope in Him is better than hope for a baby.
Jenn Hesse is a writer/content developer at Waiting in Hope Ministries and leads a local infertility and infant loss support group called Graceful Wait, in the Northwest. She and has a passion for equipping women to know Christ through His Word. When she’s not teasing her husband or chasing after her two sons, she writes at her blog, www.jenhesse.com.