“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. Isaiah 54:1
Mothers’ Day sometimes makes me feel sad because I have been unable to bear children. I feel left out. In the struggle to understand my situation, I examined Bible stories of barren women who prayed for children, namely Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth. In each case, God eventually opened their wombs (Genesis 18:1-14; 1 Samuel 1:1-20; Luke 1:5-25).
At first I thought God was telling me to wait, as the women in the Bible had waited. But a time came when I knew He was saying, “No, you will bear no children.” He offered no explanation.
I was reminded of my earthly father’s words, “Because I said so, that’s why.” How I hated those words. I wanted a full explanation, but he pulled rank and remained silent. Only later did I learn that he could not always give a reason that I would understand. And so it is with God. I may not understand why God chose not to give me children until I see Him face-to-face. And then, the joy of being in His presence may erase my desire for answers to questions that troubled me here on earth.
One day a verse from Isaiah 53 stood out to me: “when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days” (v. 10b). This chapter is Messianic—a prophecy about Jesus. But how could Jesus’ suffering and death result in offspring?
Despite fictional accounts that say otherwise, Jesus never married and never had children. The Hebrew word Isaiah uses in verse 10 means “a fresh, new thing.” Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated a fresh, new thing: the Church, its members born from above. Spiritual offspring.
God used this verse to show me that the fruit I bear for Him is not linked to the number of my children any more than my success is connected to possessions or accomplishments. Our fruitfulness comes from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives: being who He made us to be and doing what He gives us to do.
Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What does Paul say about our works and when they were prepared for us?
Read John 15:1-16. What image does Jesus use to represent our fruitbearing? How is the fruit produced?
Isaiah 54 speaks of a barren woman, often considered to be Israel in Isaiah’s day. How can the advice given to her in verses 1-2 be helpful to any woman? Interpret “tent” as the place where you live.
Nancy J. Baker