In Childlessness and in Parenthood, Trusting in God's Will
Pray. Wait. Trust.
As parents of three young children we are sometimes asked if we remember what is was like when we didn’t have children. It seems that the answer, “Yes, of course,” surprises them. We do remember. After all, we have been married more years without children than with children. We remember the joys and we remember the sorrows.
God Hears Our Prayers
“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings” (Ps. 61:1Ð4).
In the first years of our marriage we prayed that God would bless our life with children if it was His will. We were not given children, and gradually our prayer to God changed. We prayed that we could see and find contentment with the blessings in our life.
“Wait on the Lord”
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord”
We waited. Our wait lasted 20 years. God blessed our years of waiting. We were husband and wife who became best friends. We had fulfilling careers and were able to travel often. We found that the void of no children could be partially filled by giving our time to others. We fondly remember time spent with nieces and nephews. Volunteering within God’s kingdom has blessings. We feel fortunate that we had time available for this as well.
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3,4). Waiting can also be trying. There were hopes and dreams that didn’t materialize. There were doubts. There were tears and there were prayers. Through it all God granted us contentment and strengthened our weak faith. Our life was not miserable; we had much to be thankful for!
We pondered whether adoption was an option for us. With prayer, we completed the necessary paperwork and the wait began. We waited four years before acknowledging that once again God had shown us that this was not His plan. With mixed feelings of sadness and some relief we closed our file for adoption. Three months later we discovered that we were expecting our first child! With unspeakable joy we marveled at God’s guiding hand.
Trust in God’s Plan
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5,6). To trust means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of. To have faith in.”
We make plans for our lives, but when the path takes a different turn than we anticipated we can wonder why and even struggle against it. How comforting it is to put our trust in God, knowing that He has the perfect plan for us.
“Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song I will praise him” (Ps. 28:6,7).
We are parents now. We have three beautiful children, ages 7, 5 and 3. Our life has drastically changed in many ways but there are things that remain. Amidst the many joys there are sorrows still. There are doubts and struggles. Our prayer for contentment has not diminished. We need the care of our Heavenly Father in every stage of life. How good it is to trust in the will of God!
Dale and Laura Skoog
God Doesn’t Give Everyone Babies
It was Mother’s Day again, a day to remember with joy the blessings of a believing mother! It was also, as we refer to it, our day of grief. At church that Mother’s Day, we sat in our familiar back pew. All the males in the congregation stood up and sang a Mother’s Day song to the mothers—every male except Ari. He knew that it would be hard for me, so he stayed with me in the bench.
The men’s voices rang out in joyous song, and my grief burst through in silent tears streaming down my face. Why must my grief come on a day when we are so thankful for our mothers?
When we left from the service, a dear friend sent me a message: “I noticed your tears during the Mother’s Day song and even though I don’t comprehend your trial, I care. We remember you in prayer.” Moments later, another friend sent a message, “We remember you in love today.” These are simple words, yet they are such an encouragement to our life of faith. Someone knows and understands that childlessness is a trial for us.
When we were married 15 years ago we expected, as many believers do, that we would have a large family. God has had other plans for us, plans which we sometimes do not understand or comprehend. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:8).
Our lives are filled with many blessings—the gift of faith, a believing spouse, many temporal blessings, family and friends. However, it has not been God’s will for us to have children. We often wonder why? We love kids! We love to be with kids!
We often think of childlessness as a hidden trial. I suppose people notice it, but it feels like it is not very easy to talk about when there are large families all around us. Some people might think our life is easier without children. Childlessness is a trial in our lives that at times aches fiercely.
God has given precious escorts on our journey of faith with whom we have been able to share this trial. He has also given them hearts to care about us and to share their children with us. We enjoy our nieces, nephews and friends’ children very much. Often the young children like to come and sit with us at church and want us to play with them when we visit their homes. As the children grow up, we have helped them shop for school clothes or their first cars. Teenagers stop by with their friends to visit or invite us to join them in their outdoor activities. As some of these kids have married and started families, they have come to stay with us in our home. It brings us great joy to have these kids in our lives.
“Susu, why don’t you and Ari have any babies?” our six-year-old niece asked from the backseat of the car as we left from a summer evening at the lake. I responded, “Because God hasn’t given us any.” And she replied, “Oh!” Her eight-year-old sister next to her added, “God doesn’t give everyone babies.”
This conversation is not the first time that our young nieces and nephews ask about us not having children. My heart rejoices each time these young ones so simply accept that God has not given us children. They give us adults strength to simply accept God’s will in our lives. The children in our lives and their parents are precious escorts traveling with us on our journey to heaven.
Suzanne and Ari Pitkanen
What Can I Learn from My Situation?
Why hasn’t God blessed us with children? Why are some families given many and we aren’t given any? Why are so many children in this world aborted or abused and unwanted? Why are my prayers not answered? Why does my heart want children so badly if it’s not meant to be?
Growing up, I loved to play house and take care of babies. I babysat often for many families and loved spending time with my nieces and nephews. I looked forward to having my own children someday to take care of and love. When that hasn’t yet happened after many years of marriage, I try to understand why and have many questions that can’t easily be answered. I want to find some sense in it, but these ‘why’ questions only seem to cause sadness, anger and frustration.
The years pass by quickly but not always easily. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel alone in a culture of big families. It can be hard to relate to friends that are mothers and hard to sit at the coffee table when conversations revolve around kids. At times, it’s hard to hear pregnancy announcements or go to baby showers and Mother’s Day celebrations.
In our marriage, my husband and I struggle to understand each other and how this trial affects both of us so differently. We struggle to find the words for it and find others that understand. We’ve struggled to find purpose and contentment in life. It’s difficult to let go of dreams of having a family even though we know that there is nothing more we can do to make those dreams come true. It’s hard to accept that we may never get to experience the blessing of children in our home.
Year after year we have many prayers: prayers that God would give us children, prayers that we could adopt, if that’s what is meant (which, too, is in God’s hands and is rarely easy); prayers that God would send escorts, prayers for contentment and prayers that are often just quiet tears late at night.
I often think about an instructive sermon I heard years ago. The minister spoke about how the foolishness of God is way above the wisdom of man. I can still picture the minister reaching one hand way above the other to illustrate the vast difference. There are many intelligent people in this world and it’s impressive how much man has been able to figure out and understand. But only God can see all and know all. He knows what has been and what will be. The greatest of man’s wisdom is still foolishness in comparison to God’s knowledge. It was a good reminder that God knows so much better than I do. Who am I to try to tell Him how I think my life should go? Even if I don’t understand everything, I can trust that He will take care of me and that He knows exactly what is best for me.
I once read somewhere that instead of asking ‘why’ questions, it can be more helpful to ask ‘what’. What can I learn from my situation? What blessings do I have? What is most important in my life? This helps me shift my thoughts from what I don’t have to focus instead on the many blessings that I do have. I’m thankful for my supportive, believing spouse. I’m thankful for my huge, loving family and great friends—including those who are mothers! I’m thankful I can get to know and spend time with many precious nieces and nephews, godchildren and all the other children in my life. I’m thankful that my husband and I are able to travel to many amazing places, have fulfilling jobs and hobbies and enjoy countless other blessings.
Over time it gets easier to accept and contentment comes. I look back at my life and see how God guides me and brings me exactly where I need to be. He gives me more than I’ve ever needed and answers prayers that I didn’t know I have. Most importantly, He forgives my sins and yet keeps me in His kingdom. Even though I don’t know why I haven’t been given something I’ve prayed for over and over, I can’t help but realize that an equally unanswerable question is, “Why am I so blessed?”
1. In what ways has your life gone differently than you planned?
2. What kind of process has it been to accept that God’s plans have been different than your plans?
What obstacles do you have to overcome to gain acceptance and contentment?
3. Have you felt alone in your trials? Where have you found help in times of struggle and trial?
4. In what unexpected ways has God blessed you?
5. Some deal with a busy household filled with little ones, others deal with an empty, quiet house.
How can we support one another in life situations that are not the same as ours?