I don’t pretend to know the sorrow of barrenness.  Early in our marriage, I miscarried and then spent a number of months wondering if I would be able to carry a baby to full term.  But that sorrow and worry was eventually replaced, for me.

And so, I tread lightly on this subject, knowing that for some, even some of my closest friends, this is a sober and tender place.

However, I can’t help but notice the fruit of the barren women in Scripture.  In fact, God almost seems to repeat the same pattern again and again with women’s hearts who’ve struggled with a barren womb.

  • First, there’s Sara, who suffers for ages, until she’s aged, wondering and finally feeling certain that she’d never have a child of her own.
  • There was Rachel, and though she was beautiful and had secured her husband’s affection, had not been able to secure him offspring.
  • There’s Samson’s mother who had gone years without bearing any children.
  • There’s Ruth, who was married ten years in Moab, but still left for Judah with no child in her arms.
  • Then there’s the infamous Hannah whose husband had two wives, and she of course, had none to call hers.
  • And finally, there’s Elizabeth, though wife to a man of God, had never been able to bear him a son.

And you know these stories as I do…God did open, in due time, the wombs of these barren women.  And just consider the sons raised by these women who’d longed for years to hold a child of their own.

  • Isaac would love Rebekah and become one of the great patriarchs.
  • Joseph would stay faithful to God even through the toughest circumstances and secure Israel’s survival through the years of severe famine.
  • Samson, though wayward at best, would be used of God to destroy the Philistines-Israel’s great foe of his time.
  • Obed would of course be the grandfather of David, Israel’s great king and a man after God’s heart.
  • Samuel would be Israel’s great priest and in his day, speak the words of God to His people.
  • John the Baptist would prepare the way for the great King of Kings and would live a life sanctified to God in every way.

And so when I say I want the heart of a barren woman, I mean I want the heart of a barren woman that’s been touched by Christ.  I want a heart like these mothers who were able to give back the very thing they had longed for most. I want a mothering heart like Hannah who sets her children apart for the Lord, because the waiting and the wanting reveals that these children are already the Lord’s.  I want a heart of Sarah who could allow God to take her long awaited son back to Himself, knowing it was only a miracle that made him hers in the first place.

It seems the barrenness can, through the work of God’s spirit, train a mother’s heart.  But can I have that heart too?

….a heart that loves the Giver of all good things (more than the gifts) and opens my arms wide to let Him do what He pleases with all that He’s given.

…a heart that knows each breath and heartbeat is a miracle and a gift from above, and so deserves a miraculous response that sets apart these little hearts for God and His glory

Not every barren woman in Scripture is finally given the opportunity to bear children, of course.  I can’t help but think of Anna, married for seven years, widowed and living day and night in the temple.  But, even she, though God never seemed to open her womb, was given the heart I desire.  For she, like these other mothers, seemed to know the greater purpose of life and the one longing to which every other longing points. She was longing for Christ and spending her life in hopes to see him.

So Lord, give us the heart of a barren woman-a barren woman redeemed by Your spirit and cause us to love and long for You more than anything else this world or our womb could offer.  And may we mother and care for our spiritual and physical children as Hannah did-setting them apart for You and Your great Kingdom.

This is a re-post from several years ago.  Celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend with all of you who are learning to long for Christ above all things.

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