Hannah’s Hope {Book Review}

You know you’ve found a good book when you want to buy extra copies to give away to friends.

I’ve read a lot of infertility books in the last few years and Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake is my favorite so far.

Saake suffered through over ten years of failed infertility treatments, miscarriages, and adoption loss.  She ultimately gave birth to three living children, but endured very difficult pregnancies and post-partum depression.   She beautifully weaves together elements from her own experience and from the Biblical story of Hannah while asking the question, “Would I choose bitterness and self-destruction, or growth and renewed hope?”

One of my favorite things about this book is that it’s not just written for people going through infertility.  Each chapter ends with a section called “Burden Bearers” with tips and ideas for family, friends, or clergy who want to support their loved ones suffering from the disease.  I found the Burden Bearers section for the chapter of miscarriage especially poignant:

“If my baby has died, please do remember my child.  Remember that I am a mother… If my miscarriage was “early,” don’t think my baby was any less a person, any less my child, any less significant, than if he had died later in life… I know that somehow God can work even this for His good purpose, but right now I need you to validate my grief.”

Saake is not shy about how she wrestled with God and the church.  She’s one of the only Christian authors I’ve read who acknowledges how difficult it can be to attend church during infertility, and dedicates an entire chapter to exploring this struggle.  Here she writes about the lack of support after a miscarriage:

“I begged the body of Christ to offer me biblically grounded answers about my baby’s eternal security after death, only to find a double standard among many pro-life Christians who insist that a baby should never be aborted, yet treat a miscarriage as a nonperson.”

I particularly resonated with how she felt about attending worship services:

“The drama of fertility challenges often painfully performs on the stage of church participation. Public worship, in and of itself, opens the floodgates of my emotions so that I react to all stimuli more intently. Music is designed to open my spirit to connect with The Lord, but in doing so, it can also peel the scab off my hurting soul. Prayer is a window from my heart to God’s. The Word of God is a double-edged sword that can painfully pierce my heart in ways I may not be able to publicly handle when I’m already so fragile…these feelings are fine between God and me, but in church they easily become a public spectacle.”

But the real beauty of the book isn’t in her ability to so accurately describe the pain of infertility; it’s in her challenge to serve others and to choose hope despite the pain.  There’s an entire chapter on how churches can minister to people struggling with infertility.  And in the chapter entitled “Worshipping While Waiting,” she challenges readers to view their waiting time as an act of worship and faith.

“Living in the ongoing unknown made worship a true sacrifice.  Blind faith was sometimes fearful, painful faith, especially whenever I tried to exercise it in my own strength.  Fortunately, each time I made even the meekest attempt to reach out to the Lord, my Father was there to hold my hand and guide me along the way.”

I highly recommend Hannah’s Hope to anyone who is struggling with God or with the church during infertility.  It’s the most honest, well-written Christian book on infertility I’ve read and I wish I had read it earlier in my journey.

Have you read Hannah’s Hope?  Does is sound like something you’d like to read?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • I have read Hannah’s hope! On my shelf now 🙂 It’s been awhile, so I don’t remember it too well. Have you read God’s Plan for Pregnancy? We might have talked about this already, but HIGHLY recommend it!

    • Lisa Newton

      I haven’t read it, but I know you and several other bloggers highly recommend it, so I need to get on it!!

  • I’ve read Hannah’s hope and still have it on my shelf. It had some very helpful points that are useful to think through when dealing with infertility. For example asking questions about infertility treatments and how far you’re prepared to go. Asking questions rather than giving the answers. Couples may come to different conclusions and that’s ok. Each couple has to decide. There were some things in the theology, that I had a problem with. Romanos 8:28 is one of my favourite Bible verse. I know that God uses everything for good and that most definitely includes infertility. I’ve learnt so much and continue to learn so much on tis journey. However, I don’t believe that God has “gifted me with infertility” or “chosen to make me infertile” The idea that God only gives good gifts and so infertility is actually good just isn’t my understanding of what the Bible says (that part on page120 seems to be a contribution from someone else though and not the author herself speaking) I think there were other moments when I had a different view theologically. But then, it’s ok to take what you can from a book and one thing that I really like is that she asks so many questions and points to consider, without imposing how you must feel and what you must do.

    • Lisa Newton

      I just went back and read the section on page 120 that you referenced, Rachel. I don’t think it quite registered with me the first time I read it. Now that I’ve re-read it I do agree with you. I don’t think God “gifts” us with infertility, either. After all, James 1:17 says that God’s gifts are good and perfect. Infertility makes it impossible to fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, so I don’t think that qualifies as either “good” or “perfect.” God has allowed the situation in my life, but I don’t think he gifted / gave it to me. That being said, He has definitely given me some gifts within the situation. Perhaps that’s what the author was referring to? Either way, I also agree with you that you can take what is beneficial from this book (after all, it isn’t the Bible!) and agree to disagree about the rest. For me, there is so much helpful wisdom in the book that it far outweighs the minor disagreements I have. I have Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  • This book has been on my “to read” list for YEARS… I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I think you’ve pushed me over edge to finally get a copy.

  • Jen

    I read this awhile back and have to agree that it’s one of my favorites. Very well written, and it addresses the “Why am I being punished?” question.

  • I’ve love this book Lisa! It’s one of the few Christian infertility books out years ago when I was first on the journey. And, I’ve used this countless times in my support groups too. A classic for Christians going thru IF, friends and clergy as well.

    I do agree with Rachael (I think?) in her comment about Jennifer saying “gift of infertility”…I disagree as well. I think of the scripture in the gospel, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father?” Our Heavenly Father loves us so much not to GIVE infertility as a gift. IMO I believe our bodies are a product of this fallen world, but JESUS is our Redeemer of our broken bodies and our broken hearts too.

    Sorry…I jumped in my preaching box there… 🙂

    Lesli

    • Hi Lesli. Preaching box is fine for me, but then I agree with your preaching 😉 I also think that infertility is a product of living in a fallen world but I LOVE the word redemption. That’s the gift that God does give us in the midst of something like infertility I think, the way He uses it. Just a note to anyone else thinking about getting the book though; this isn’t a reason to not get the book. It really does have some useful thoughts to ponder and useful information.

  • I agree with Rachel about page 120. I disagreed with what that person had said which made me wonder by the author chose to put it in there unless she also believed infertility was a gift…? It was a good book with some good points but not my favorite. I couldn’t say I agreed with her on everything and several of her statements would make me cringe, but then other chapters I did enjoyed. I think I am now rambling. Lol! Caroline is right, Gods plan for pregnancy is good 😉

  • Lisa Newton

    I love all the dialogue about this book!