Thursday, September 15, 2016

Of barrenness and large families

Image: Pixabay
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 113:1-9

TO CHEW ON: "He grants the barren woman a home
Like a joyful mother of children." Psalm 113:9

Where have we heard parts of this psalm before? Out of the lips of once-barren Hannah - 1 Samuel 2:5,8.

Is barrenness (the inability to have children) still an issue today?

I think it is—but in a culture that doesn't value having children (at least not many children) nearly as much as the Hebrews did, it's often a private anguish.

I come from a large family. Even when I was growing up, we were an oddity. For example, people stopped beside us at a traffic light looked to be counting heads in the car. Nowadays with birth control, there's almost a feeling that it's your duty not to have many children.

In God's economy, children are a blessing. The barren women in the Bible are depicted as wistful (2 Kings 4:16), sad (1 Samuel 1:5-7), sometimes even cursed (2 Samuel 6:20-23). And despite our society's ambivalence toward children and large families, there is often deep sorrow in a women who wants a baby but has never conceived or carried one to term.

As Christian women, let's not deny or ignore this God-given drive—even need to mother, in ourselves or others. Three responses come to mind.

  • We need to support young mothers (and fathers) especially of those families that are bigger than the North American average. Even in the church they are sometimes the brunt of crude jokes. And life can be pretty overwhelming with four,  five, or six little ones.
  • At the same time we need to be sensitive to couples who have few or no children. We have no idea why. They may be living with great sadness. We mustn't add to it by making unfeeling remarks that come out of our assumption this is their choice.
  • Finally, we can pray that God will open wombs! Writers throughout the Bible acknowledge that whether we have children or not is in God's department: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward" - Psalm 127:3 (see also Genesis 48:9; 1 Samuel 2:21).

PRAYER: Dear Father, please help me to have Your values when it comes to motherhood and children for my own family and for families in my church. Amen.

MORE: Prayer for conception

In her book Praying with Fire, Barbara Billett has a prayer for conception. Here is a snippet, to be prayed by both wife and husband:

"By faith we release the anointing life over my (wife's) ovaries, my husband's (my) sperm and my (wife's) womb, in Jesus Name. We thank You, Lord, that Your Spirit is hovering and bringing forth life to our seed together. We speak life to my (wife's) ovaries to release ova properly and correctly and for the Fallopian tubes and uterus to function correctly, so that conception and implantation occurs perfectly, in the Name of Jesus. Than You, Lord, for making me (my wife) a joyful mother and homemaker. For with God, nothing shall be impossible! Behold I (my wife) am (is) Your handmaiden, Lord, Be it unto me (her) according to Thy Word!" - Barbara Billett, Praying With Fire, pp. 48,49,

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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