Thursday, January 28, 2010

Barren Women

This year I am reading the Old Testament. I just love the stories in the Bible. I was reading today in Genesis 25:21 about Isaac and Rebekah and I discovered that Rebekah had been barren. This verse simply stated that “Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.”

I had never known that Rebekah was barren. I knew about the others: Sarai/Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and Elisabeth. But I don’t know how had I missed that. Well, at any rate, I know now. And I can add her to the list. I always feel a kinship to other infertile women past and present.

At times being infertile or “barren” has felt like a punishment from God. I have wondered what I did to deserve this. And I being a person with many weaknesses I have found plenty of reasons why God might want to punish me. But when I remember these remarkable and choice women in the scriptures who were barren, I am reminded that infertility is not a punishment from God. The people that either make it into the scriptures are usually either really bad or really good. And it is obvious that these women were great women with important roles to play.

It has been helpful to read these women’s stories and see how they overcame their challenges. I wish mine challenge was as short as one little verse in the scriptures-- that my husband prayed to God and God intervened. But I am being facetious, I know it wasn’t that simple: one prayer, one verse, and all of their hopes and dreams came true. It would be like having a genie in a lamp. I am sure they prayed and waited upon the Lord for a long time.

As I thought about this, I realized that I hadn’t ever really thought about how Abraham’s whole family had quite a difficult time getting pregnant. They must have had to exercise a lot of faith in the promise of the Lord that they would have a great posterity. And the Lord clearly wanted to bless them, otherwise He wouldn’t have promised Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob that they would have seed as innumerable “as the stars of the heaven” (Gen 26: 4). And if there is one thing we can count on, it is that God keeps His promises.

Many times I have felt as Rachel did who demanded of her husband, “give me children or else I die” Genesis 30:1.

I feel like I have tried every one of their tactics: pray, plead, cry out in anguish, and make promises to the Lord in exchange for a child. I guess I haven’t gotten really old like Sarah and Elisabeth, although I really don’t think I could handle having a child when I am 100 yrs old. So I don’t know that I want to try that approach. I think that is one thing I would pray to not have happen.
I guess for now I will take the advice in Galations 4:27, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not, while in the back of my mind I will remember when one woman’s prayers were answered as depicted in one of my favorite scriptures: And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. Gen 30:22

God is aware of each of us, and the trials we are going through. That is one thing I am certain of.

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