Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Commonness of Barrenness

As I've mentioned previously, I have been reading the Bible everyday according to a chronological plan from It had me read a little bit in Genesis, and then jump over to read all of Job, and now I'm back in Genesis where I left off. But something has really piqued my interest already -- barrenness is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and I have a feeling I'm just starting to scratch the surface.

I'd like to blog about each barren woman's story as I read through the Bible, and hopefully it will be an encouragement to all of us. Time and time again wombs that were once closed were suddenly opened by the Lord. So to start with, let's look at the very first example of infertility that the Bible shares with us...

Perhaps the most commonly referred to example of barrenness/infertility is Sarah, Abraham's wife. We first learn of her condition in Genesis 11:30
Sarai was barren; she had no child.

What do we know about Sarah?
  • She was beautiful, even in her old age (80s and 90s) - so beautiful that Abraham feared for his life by venturing into a new city with her, that he told her to tell everyone they were brother and sister out of fear that a king would kill him just to take Sarah as his wife.
  • She was protected by God - When two different kings in two different situations took Sarah as their wife (since at two different times Abraham told Sarah to tell everyone they were brother and sister), God intervened on behalf of Sarah and restored her to Abraham.
  • She was loyal and obedient - Why else would a woman listen to her husband and agree to tell everyone they were brother and sister?
  • She was barren - Continuing the story in Genesis 16, we again learn that "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children"
  • She didn't always handle her barrenness in the best or right way - In the previous chapter, Genesis 15, God promises to Abraham that he will have a son of his own body. Perhaps just like women of the present day, it seems that in Genesis 16 Sarah tried to take matters into her own hands and "help" God out in keeping that promise. What did she do? She told Abraham to go have relations with her maidservant, Hagar. He did, and Hagar conceived a child and then started to despise Sarah (I wonder, was Hagar upset that she had to go through the "difficulties" of being pregnant?) So Sarah treated her harshly and Hagar fled.
  • Sometimes she questioned God - In Genesis 16:2, Sarah said to Abraham, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children." Then after God spoke His promise to Abraham that Sarah would bear a child, Sarah's response was full of doubt, "Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?" Isn't it refreshing that you or I are not the first ones to struggle with infertility? To know that Sarah, the mother of nations, also had the tendency to question God?
  • God could and did open her womb - In Genesis 17:16 God says "I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." So not only did he give her a naturally born son, but that began a whole legacy of nations! How did Abraham and Sarah respond to this? (Remember that at the time God told Abraham this, Sarah was 90 years old.) He laughed. So did Sarah when she heard. I just LOVE God's response to Sarah's doubting in Genesis 18:14 - "Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son."
  • Sarah's womb was opened and she had a son named Isaac, just as God had promised she would.

How marvelous is it that we have such a powerful and loving God as our Heavenly Father? He is a God who can do anything - a God that nothing is too difficult for Him. Our God is a God who does not require your help to conceive life - He is perfectly powerful enough to conceive life no matter what food you eat, vitamins/medicines you take, what your temperatures say, what the OPK says, how much cervical fluid you have, whether you have sex on the "most fertile day", lubricant you use, position you do, how long you lay with your legs in the air afterwards (admit it, we've all done this at one time or another to allow gravity to help the little guys along) -- Our God is all powerful and sovereign!

In the future as I blog about other infertile women in the Bible, I'll label it "Commonness of Barrenness" so that you can easily find previous posts. (See the list of labels to the right.)

God bless!

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