This program focuses on the topic of infertility and references the story of Sarah from Genesis 18:1–15. There may be some who attend your corps, in your sphere of influence, or who simply reside in your community who may be struggling in silence with infertility. It is an important topic for the church to include in ministry and to provide hope and healing. Those who suffer from infertility need someone to hear their stories and provide encouragement. This may be a one time program or a launching point within the corps/church or as an outreach open to anyone in the community.
Ask specific individuals to handle various aspects of the program prior to the event: advertising, invitations, resource collection, set up and clean up.
- Invite someone from a local infertility support group to come and speak to the group.
- Invite someone who has struggled with infertility and is willing to share their story with the group.
- In addition to the resources provided below, collect handouts from local resources prior to the program.
The arrangement of the room will depend on the size of the group, location and how formal the setting is. Because the topic for discussion is a personal and intimate one, strive for a setting that allows those who share to feel comfortable.
Informal settings—Starbucks, someone’s home (living room/dining table), fellowship hall around tables with refreshments or a meal to encourage more interaction with various members of the group.
Formal setting—chapel pews with the leader standing at front of the group or fellowship hall/classroom/conference room with chairs and a podium for the leader. If in the corps building, plan for appropriate signage so those attending who are not familiar with the building will know where to go.
Hope for a Child
Read Genesis 18:1–15 NIV.
Sarah is the first woman in the Bible whose experience with infertility is shared. God had promised her husband Abraham that he would father a child with Sarah, but after waiting for a long time Abraham and Sarah did not conceive a child. When three strangers appeared unexpectedly at their house, Abraham rushed to meet them and prepared his house to show them hospitality, which was expected during those times. If we look at how much bread he asked his wife Sarah to bake, we see that he was preparing for an extravagant feast, including a choice calf usually reserved for special occasions. As they were eating, the visitors asked Abraham where Sarah was. Abraham replied that she was in a tent because in those days men and women did not eat together. Now Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old, so you can imagine that all these preparations were very tiring for both of them. Still, they did what was expected of them.
During the meal, one of the visitors told Abraham, “At this time next year I will return and Sarah your wife will have a son.” I imagine that Abraham might have started to choke on his food in disbelief or to laugh at such a ridiculous statement. He knew that he and Sarah were past the age of childbearing. What the visitor said seemed ridiculous! But God created the whole world and everything in it! Surely He could create another human life if He chose to do so, regardless of the most insurmountable circumstance. Sarah laughed. And I am sure she was looking at her husband at this point, thinking this man is crazy.
Then the Lord said, “Why did Sarah laugh?” (vs. 13) “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (vs. 14). She may have laughed because she had not been able to have a child for so long and her unbelief was starting to take over. If she was honest, she probably would have had to admit her true feelings, which were that she was afraid. Afraid that she might not ever have a child or that at her age she could not handle motherhood. Or maybe she was angry that God had not answered her prayer when she was young in the way she wanted. Sarah replied that she did not laugh (vs. 15). God knows how we feel. There is no need to lie about it. He will supply all our needs as he did for Sarah who not only got pregnant but delivered a healthy child long after anyone would have expected.
There are many stories in the Bible of other women who were said to be barren. There was Rebekkah, Isaac’s wife and Rachel, one of Jacob’s wives, Manoah’s nameless wife, Samson’s mother, along with Hannah who we know prayed for a child for a long time. Consider also Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. They all had something in common in that they all believed, prayed, and asked God to bless them with a child. They chose to trust in God’s promises, not in their hope or desire. God already had a future planned for them and he answered their prayers.
Everyone’s story is unique. God sees you where you are. You do not have to suffer in silence or struggle all alone. You are not forgotten, and God always keeps His promises to love you and be present with you. He can perform a miracle if He so chooses as He did for Abraham and Sarah. That miracle may come in a form we don’t expect. What he asks of us is that we continue to believe in Him even when circumstances seem bleak. He asks that we remain faithful even we don’t receive the answers that we want, in the time we want, or in the way that we want. You may not become pregnant. But that doesn’t mean that God won’t give you children to love. When circumstances for us are difficult we must still have faith (Hebrews 11:1) that our God is working in ways that we may not understand and have the courage to face those uncertain days that He may be glorified. (see Deuteronomy 31:6)
The closing will depend on the setting. Options include: Prayer chorus followed by prayer or time of sharing around the table or in small groups. Those in attendance may be encouraged to begin an online Bible reading plan as a group. (See online resources below.)
“In Thee O Lord Do I Put My Trust” (3X)
For Those Struggling with Infertility (Online resources)
Resources for Pastors and Leaders
For Those Dealing With The Loss of a Child
https://www.sarahs-laughter.com/ (Nationwide USA, locations listed on website/non-denominational supporting women of all faiths Christian ministry)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Locations in PA, USA and FL, USA – contact for current locations)
https://www.watermark.org/dallas/ministries/shiloh (located in Dallas, Texas)
Online Bible Reading Plans
Walking through Infertility:Biblical, Theological & Moral Counsel For Those Who Are Struggling by Matthew Arbo
Longing for Motherhood, Holding onto Hope in the Midst of Childlessness by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik