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pastorway

And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, January 12, 2007

God's Providential Exception: The Barren Womb (Part 2)

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Isaiah 54:1
“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.

Daily Scripture Reading - Philippians 4

Puritan Catechism
Question #49 - Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer - The fourth commandment is, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Ex 20:8-11).

Devotional Thoughts
We have seen that while barrenness has at times been the result of judgment for sin, the overall idea that barrenness is a curse simply cannot be substantiated from Scripture. There are many godly women throughout the Bible who were barren. In exposing this false belief we have even seen that many who were barren later were blessed with children. God had His purposes for their barrenness, even if it was only for a little while.

But what about those who are barren and never have children? Are they cursed? Does God hate them? Have they done something wrong to deserve this? Why are they barren?

There can be no other answer than that God is sovereign, as since He is God we must trust Him. On the surface that sounds simplistic and even trite. Who am I after all to suggest that if a couple is barren that they should just trust God and His purposes?

While it is true that I know first hand, by experience, what it is for a family to go through this dark Providence as I have no children, it is not who I am that matters. Far beyond that, there is the truth - this is what the Bible tells us and that settles is as the only answer to our questions. God is sovereign and if He has chosen that a woman is to be barren and even remain barren then there is nothing that anyone can do to change that. But then, if this is what God has decided, then this is His will, and His will always works for our good and His glory. The gifts He gives us are always good. Even if we fail to see that these are gifts!

The question is not whether or not barrenness is a curse. The question is this - is the woman who is barren walking by faith and not by sight? Is she trusting God for everything, in every area of her life? Is she honoring and glorifying God, learning to be content wherever she finds herself?

And for her husband - does he pray for his wife and with his wife about all of these things? Does he encourage her and love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her? Does he sympathize and empathize, and grieve with her when she hurts and feels a loss? And does he take her to the Word of God to lift her eyes to the cross when she feels that God has done this to hurt or punish her?

Our last point before looking at a few specific ways to apply this lesson is a point that I have saved intentionally for last. A foundation had to be laid before we could even understand this point. This last point runs contrary to our “natural” way of thinking. Whatever we confess, we know this to be true, barrenness is so associated with sin or a curse that it is difficult to accept by faith what the Bible really says. For we see that if we lay aside our preconceived notions, we find that the Bible tells us that:

Barrenness is a Blessing

At this point you are either nodding your head in agreement or you are sure that I am crazy. How can barrenness be a blessing? I am glad you asked! Are you ready to learn the truth, and by that truth to be set free from the false beliefs and expectations that the world, the devil, and our own flesh hoist upon us?

Remember Psalm 113? We read it yesterday. When we apply Psalm 113 and Psalm 127 we learn that it is up to God to build the home. We cannot build without Him and unless He builds, there will be nothing built. God creates life in the womb, fashions the body and soul of that baby, and brings about the time of birth. God knows our days before we are born, He knows all our thoughts and words before we think or speak. He sets the boundaries of our life.

Can we trust Him then that He will bless us as He sees fit? It is true that children are a blessing from His hand, but can we really say that barrenness is also a blessing? When we compare the two - having children and being barren - we naturally think that one has been blessed while the other goes without being blessed. But that simply is not true.

Psalm 113:9 tells us that God grants the barren woman a home like the joyful mother of children. What is the difference here? God gives us each joyful homes! He creates families as He sees fit. And whether that home includes children or not it is still God who has "granted" that joyful home.

We also learned in Proverbs 30:16 yesterday that the barren womb never says "Enough." There is always a yearning for children. However, can we be content and satisfied and fulfilled even while still desiring something else? Yes we can, when we have the right perspective and really desire the right things. Think about it this way - we know that heaven will be wonderful. We will see Jesus. There will be no pain, sorrow, or sin. And we will live forever in God's presence. So knowing how wonderful heaven will be, can we desire to see Jesus and be with Him and at the same time be content and satisfied while here on this fallen world?

We are told that we can be and should be content. We are also told that we can be satisfied. How? How can we be satisfied when the barren womb never says "Enough"? Jesus tells us that we can be fulfilled, we can be satisfied, if we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 tells us, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." When we deeply desire, as if our lives depended upon it, to be right with God, then we will be satisfied. True satisfaction comes from God, from being right with Him, from having our sins forgiven and being righteous and holy. So while the barren may desire children, there can still be contentment and satisfaction found in walking with God.

We also find from Isaiah 54:1, 5, 17 that the barren are told to sing and rejoice. Why would a barren woman sing and rejoice? Because she will never know the pain of seeing her children stray from the Lord. This is serious. There is nothing more painful than for a parent to see their child walking in sin and suffering the judgment of God as a result. And the truth here is that if we are barren then we will never know what it to have our children be rejected by God.

We see then that God alone builds the home and He tells us that there are reasons to see His will as a blessing. We are even told that there are reasons that the barren can rejoice! And if we are looking to children for true and lasting satisfaction then we have missed the truth that only God can satisfy and only those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled.

We must then take JOY in our heritage from God, Christ’s imputed righteousness. He has made us right with God, and that exceeds all other blessings on this earth. This can also applied as there is the hope of a future promise of fruitfulness. In Galatians 4:27 Paul applies Isaiah 54:1 and tells us that in Christ we are not desolate (desolate = deserted) and that we will never be rejected by God.

In light of the coming judgment of the world for sin then we see that we have been blessed no matter what has happened in our lives and families if we only know Christ. (Luke 23:26-31).

Application

To apply what we have learned, we must admit that barrenness is most often an opportunity to experience blessing and not a curse! We see these blessings in barrenness:

  • Barrenness shows us that God is sovereign in the birth of every child. He is not only sovereign, but has a purpose in the birth of every child. Look at those in the Bible who were previously barren but whom God blessed with children. What did their children do for the Kingdom of God?

  • Barrenness gives us an opportunity to truly trust God to build our home and family.

  • Barrenness gives us an opportunity to be satisfied by God.

  • Barrenness reminds us that we have cause to rejoice, for we are never left desolate if we are in Christ!

  • Barrenness gives us a motivation to witness. It reminds us that many will be lost (and many will lose children) in the coming judgment for sin when Christ returns.


Can you rejoice today, right where you are, whether barren or not? If you have Christ, that is enough. And wherever God has you, you are blessed in Him. If you find yourself as part of God's providential exception, do not dwell on what He has not given you, instead thank Him for what He has given you - His Son!


Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Directions Against Sinful Desires and Discontent by Richard Baxter
Satisfaction in God by Cotton Mather

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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4 Comments:

Blogger Seeker said...

Very interesting - thank you for this, as I have dealt with this issue with my wife of 30 years.

I wrote a book on exactly this topic, "The Blacksmith's Gift" - winning a national award. I've used the concept of "Santa and Mrs. Kloss" - a barren couple - to show the glory of being barren, and the meaning of trusting God, even though being barren will never shout "Enough."

I've followed that book with two more - "An Orphan's Promise" and "A Carpenter's Legacy" (Christmas 2009) - on similar topics; although it is "The Blacksmith's Gift" that speaks directly to your blog above.

Again, thank you for your words and thoughts on this difficult subject.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Pen Dancing said...

Dear Pastor Way,

I agree with almost all of what you have posted in your Barren womb blog.

There is one part I take exception to and that is: "barrenness is a curse simply cannot be substantiated from Scripture."

I am reminded of a scripture from Exodus:

Exo 23:25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,
Exo 23:26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

The Israelites had an opportunity to totally prosper. They choose differently. They could have eliminated barrenness for themselves at least. They did not.

I suggest another thought for you to consider. When we are barren for whatever reason I believe God is crying right along with us. I believe he cried right along with the Israelites when they choose to follow false Gods.

And I believe our Abba Father cries with us when we can't conceive and bear a child.

I do not believe God causes our infertility - our barrenness! Although I believe HE could if HE wanted to.

And I believe God cries at all our barrenness - whether it deals with children, or with our lack of making a difference for HIM in our world.

Just my humble opinion from my readings.

I pray God's continued blessings upon you and your wife and your ministry for God in this world.

Blessings,

Jan (jan@pendancing.com)

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I got this blog as a link from a childless site I frequent.

Thank you for writing on a topic not often covered by churches and needed.
Childless couples need to know they have a place in God's family and a purpose that is just as important as the one with families with children.
Thank you for sharing from God's word and giving a voice to this.
It is valued.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

Thank you for your comments.

To answer a few points, God is sovereign in opening or closing the womb. And while there are times that He allows or even causes barrness as a curse, it is not always a curse.

Be sure and listen to the sermon I preached that coincides with these brief devotionals (parts 1 & 2). You can listen or download the message for free here:

God's Providential Exception: The Barren Womb

~pastorway

6:53 PM  

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