The desire to be a parent is a natural, God-given longing that can be profoundly strong. So when you discover that you can’t have children when you expected to, grief can overwhelm you. Whether you’ve experienced infertility, a miscarriage, or a failed adoption attempt, God sees your empty arms and aching heart. Since you are God’s child, He cares, and He’ll give you hope if you place your trust in Him.

Here’s how you can find hope in the midst of infertility, miscarriage, and adoption loss:

Shift your focus. Look beyond your own struggles in this fallen world toward God, whose power is far greater than any of your circumstances. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Instead, decide every day to place your trust in God to guide you.

Embrace your true identity. Don’t define yourself by your challenges in your quest to have a child. Realize that, while parenthood is valuable, there is so much more that’s also important in life. Understand that God loves you deeply and unconditionally. Know that you’re just as valuable to Him when you’re not a parent as you would be if you had a child. Remember that your true identity is based on who you are in Christ – not parenthood.

Remember that you and your spouse are already a family. Realize that you don’t need to validate your marriage by having children before you can be considered a family. Understand that God already considers you and your spouse a family of two.

Expect a miracle – even if it’s not in the form of a child. Recognize that there’s no guarantee that God will choose to give you a child, but there is a promise you can count on no matter what: God will heal your heart if you ask Him. Acknowledge that God doesn’t owe you anything. Understand that God’s perspective is much greater than yours, and that He has good purposes behind everything He allows and doesn’t allow. Realize that, although you can’t predict the future, you can depend on God to do what’s best for you, in wisdom and love.

Be honest. Go ahead and pour out your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer. Rest assured that He won’t be shocked or offended by anything you say. Know that He wants you to open up to Him and establish a close relationship marked by honest communication.

Deal with envy and bitterness. Don’t try to pretend that you’re not envious of people who achieve parenthood easily. Admit how you feel, and pray about it. Realize that God’s decision to give someone a child isn’t based on whether or not that person deserves to be a parent, but on His particular plan for the child He is creating. Don’t let envy take root in your heart and grow bitterness. Ask God to constantly pull the weeds of envy and bitterness out of your heart.

Realize that God isn’t punishing you. Understand that, although past sins do have natural consequences, your inability to have a child isn’t a direct punishment from God. For instance, if you once had an abortion and now are infertile, know that God grieves along with you. Know that God stands ready to forgive any sin if you confess it and repent of it. Accept God’s forgiveness and ask Him to wash away your guilt with His grace. Invite Him to show you whatever He wants you to learn from your struggles so you can grow.

Guard your marriage. Beware of how the challenges you’re facing place stress on your marriage. Realize that neither you nor your spouse is immune to temptation that can lead to infidelity. Talk with one another frequently, sharing your thoughts and feelings openly. Pray often for your marriage to remain strong. Assure each other that, no matter whose body is the cause of your infertility, you’re both in this together. Place your spouse’s needs above your own and treat each other with kindness, actively serving one another. Keep your sex life as free of stress as possible; although you may need to time sex and deal with performance pressures, make sure you also take time for relaxed romance apart from your fertility goals.