<<barrenness, poverty>>

Barrenness, or being unable to have children, is a common condition nowadays.  The lack of fidelity accompanying modern sexual promiscuity has given rise to sexually transmitted diseases. Along with inherited physical deficiencies and chemical pollution these have contributed, to a decrease in the ability to bring about conception, affecting both the male and female.

Not being able to produce children carried a stigma in the OT as shown in the life of Hannah (1 Sam 1:5-16). Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Elizabeth are other examples of women who were unable to conceive until the Lord moved sovereignly on their behalf (Gen 16:1,2, 29:31-30:22; Lk 1:7,25,36). In each case, the resulting son was pivotal in history – Samuel, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, John the Baptist.

Couples should view being able to have children as under the control of God and make it a matter of prayer, for the Bible says He opens and shuts the womb (Gen 20:17,18; 1 Sam 1:6; Isa 66:9). It is not good to place the desire for children above the desire for a relationship with God (Ex 20:3).

Infertile couples must not assume that God is punishing them nor withholding His grace and favour from them. Medical assistance can be sought. Adoption, foster-parenting, or remaining childless yet having valuable input into the lives of others children can help ease the heartache of not personally being able to have children of their own. We must always accept and submit gladly to His individually tailored will for our lives. Those unable to physically have children can invest in numerous spiritual 'children' realm by being actively involved in the Kingdom of God (Ps 113:9; Isa 54:1-3; Gal 4:27; 1 Tim 1:2). It must be understood married couples who decide not to have children or who are unable to have children of their own due to infertility are not sinning.

Infertility, with a corresponding lack of productivity, also affected the soil which came under the curse because of man’s sin (Gen 3:17,18). The promise given to the emerging nation of Israel was that obeying God would result in material blessing or abundant prosperity including children, livestock and crops. Conversely disobeying God would result in these areas (among others) being cursed and so not being fruitful or plentiful (Deut 28:11,38-41).

The Israelites forgot what God had done for them, didn’t wait for His counsel, lacked self-control and tested His patience. He gave them their demands, but sent leanness in their souls (Ps 106:13-15). Yes, we are to be persistent in our praying yet not force God’s hand if it is outside His will for us. A lack of fruitfulness from our spiritual lives can be the

If I am unfruitful in the Kingdom of God, what will I do about it?

result of not mixing and sharing with those who need to hear the gospel or not letting our light shine (Mt 5:16; 2 Cor 4:3).

In the parable of the soils, there is a marked contrast between the hard infertile path and the prepared rich soil that produced a good crop (Lk 8:5-8). Ground-work is essential for the harvest!

See also: barren, conception, fertility, fruit, poverty.