Parents may have always assumed children would come along one day. It may never have occurred that there would be a problem. This book, written by one who walked the path of childlessness with her husband Nick, invites us to understand something of its grief and pain.
After many years of disappointment, investigations, raised hopes and more disappointments, Sarah has written her account of it all. The book opens with a preface written by Nick (a pastor). He shares some insights after travelling this road with his wife, Sarah.
Part 1 tells their story, with its highs and lows. Part 2 has six chapters explaining, in turn, spiritual struggles; emotional and social issues; effects on marriage; medical dilemmas; and a chapter about some of the unhelpful things people say.
That last chapter is the second longest in the book, and would be good for us all to read. Unhelpful things include second-guessing God’s reasons; light-hearted but inappropriate suggestions, such as ‘Why not get a dog?’; remarks, which are just rude, or an embarrassed attempt to say something. Many comments are insensitive, although not all have been unhelpful. Sarah shares some of those which have helped.
Part 3, ‘Help for the childless’, emphasises the value of the love and care received from others; navigating the medical minefield; safeguarding marriage by sharing griefs and sorrows; and finding help in God’s Word. This latter recourse develops thankful hearts and the ability to live in hope for future purpose and service.
Sarah describes how the Lord enabled them to turn their thoughts away from their own sadness, to recognise that others hurt too, though for many different reasons. She shares that the ache in our hearts, caused by whatever God is allowing or withholding, can only be filled by God himself — and it does not help to try filling the ache with anything less. The final chapter shows the real purpose of our lives: we do not exist to get all we desire, but to bring God glory.
Each chapter ends with two or three questions for the reader to ponder, together with a prayer written by Nick. The story ends with a delightful epilogue, which I will leave the reader to discover. An appendix shares some hymns that have become precious during these years, together with verses from Psalm 139.
If childlessness is your experience, do read these insights from a fellow traveller. For those who want to bear one another’s burdens better, the book will increase our understanding, especially chapter six.