The Pain of the Childless

But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. Luke 1:7 NIV

How would you like to be known as “barren Elizabeth”? It was considered almost a curse in Bible days to not have children. It was assumed there was something in a person’s life in which God was not pleased. Zechariah and Elizabeth were good, Godly people, yet they had no children and they were past the normal age of childbirth.

In our ministry, Cheryl and I have many opportunities to hold babies. It is always, however, somewhat bittersweet. As wonderful as it is to rejoice with one couple, someone is always in mourning, because either they recently lost a child, or they have been unable to have one. We have learned it is a miserable pain.

I can’t pretend that I know how that feels, because I don’t, but having a minister’s heart, I can tell you that I do understand that it is a very real heartache to be childless and want a child. Holidays and the celebrations of birth of other children only remind the childless that a part of their heart is empty. When thousands of children starve to death around the world, it seems a tragedy that many couples have a remaining prayer request to be granted a child.

I suspect Zechariah and Elizabeth could identify with such couples. Their broken hearts were a reminder to them of their desire to be parents. Some of you reading this can understand the pain of those who remain childless, and desire to parent. Remember them this Christmas season. Share God’s love with them. Pray for them. Be sensitive around them. Be Jesus to them.

Have you personally known this pain? Do you know other who have?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “The Pain of the Childless

  1. My given name is Elizabeth and my husband and I have been married for 19 years. We found out early in our marriage that I would never become pregnant. Even though it was very difficult information to receive, we had already made the decision to become foster parents. We soon became foster parents to a 3 week old that we were eventually able to adopt. He is 17 years old now and the joy of my life. Looking back I certainly see that God's ways are higher than mine. He knew what I needed more than I did.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I have many friends with similar stories. You and your son are able to understand grace better than many!

  2. Although I've face many life challenges, I could never have anticipated the heartache of childlessness. My husband & I have been married for nearly 13 years & after 2 miscarriages, had to face the reality of infertility. My husband had infertility issues, & was unable to face them or the challenges posed by them in our trying to have a fammily. Although I was open to considering all available options, he was not and simply shut down. For years he has steadfastly refused to discuss the issue or to try to move past it to healing. In the interim, I have aged out of all available fertility programs. I have some understanding of my husband's pain and of his disappointment…but his inability to acknowledge my pain and disappointment, coupled with his not being able to understand that I was not ready to give up on trying to have a family of our own (including adoption) has driven a deep wedge in our marriage, and I fear that the marriage will not survive. We are being crushed to death by the silence – we've never really sat down and talked our way through this, and we've never allowed ourselves to grieve and heal.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. After 2 1/2 years & 3 miscarriages, my heart has been very heavy with the desire to be a Mom. As a church leader I have to be ready to minister to others on Sunday’s & Wednesday’s, so thank you for ministering to my heart today.

  4. Most would say that my wife and I are young and that we have lots of time to look forward too. Yes that's true, but there is a part of us that looks forward to raising children ourselves. It hasn't happened yet after 3 years of marriage, and tears have been shed and heart aches grieved as one begins to wonder.

  5. In 5 years of blogging – 14 years of a childless marriage and more than 40 years of life with Jesus this is the very first time I have ever heard a church leader of any sort, let alone a pastor, acknowledge the pain that my wife and I wake up with every day.

    Thank you.

  6. My pastor spoke on this this weekend too, and I couldn't help but sit there and think that it's even worse to be childless because you're also single. At least a married couple has options. A single person must just deal with the ache of lonliness both for a child AND for a spouse. I'm not in any way trying to downplay the pain so many couples experience as they try over and over to have a child, I'm just saying that for me at least, the pain is compounded.