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Barren Women

A member of the Wellington Protestant Reformed Fellowship, but living on the South Island of NZ.

 Dear Beacon Lights Editor:

We have for many years been subscribers to, and keen readers of, your excellent magazine. Especially as, by the grace of God, we have raised four covenant children and learned, along with them, the doctrines of grace, as preached and believed in by our beloved Protestant Reformed Churches.

However, this is my first attempt at writing a “Letter to the Editor,” and I do so humbly, with thanks to God for His bringing us as family under the preaching of faithful ministers of His Word since 1978. (Through Rev. Van Overloop, and then Rev. Heys. Later, Rev. R. G. Miersma both prior to, and when we organized as PRC in NZ. Still now, we hear the preaching through the faithful providence of taped services from Hope PRC of Grand Rapids, Michigan, via Mr. Bob van Herk.)

Now I am a “Grandmother in Israel,” and so have much to be thankful for.

I have read with interest the articles concerning barren women. It has disturbed me somewhat in some comments made, that, notwithstanding the fact we acknowledge that our God is sovereign in all things, there appears to lurk a blind-spot when we consider marriage, and particularly the gift of children. So clearly we are taught by Scripture that it is the Lord Himself Who gives or withholds children. The Bible is replete with instances of this, as we read, for example, of Abraham and Sarah waiting in faith, until it was humanly impossible, for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise of a covenant child. And Isaac, the promised seed, and his wife Rebekah who were childless for 20 years, until, at the special entreating of the Lord by Isaac on behalf of his wife, they received the twin boys.

Later on, after Jacob, the elect seed of Isaac, had been tricked into marrying Leah, (but also sinned in still taking Rachel, the one for whom he had worked) when the Lord had given Leah children, such great jealousy arose in the heart of Rachel that she demanded of Jacob, “Give me children or else I die.” The response from Jacob was in righteous anger, as he said, “Am I in God’s stead, Who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?”

We could cite many more occasions where the Lord shows plainly that our procreation of children is not our doing. But these should suffice.

However, because of the sinful nature we carry with us all through this life, we still seem to think that it is our own doing when we conceive and bear children. This was the case with my husband and myself in the early days of our marriage. However, I am sorry that I did not then give thanks to God as I ought, but felt that in some way we were pretty smart in having children seemingly just when we had wanted. Now I know better.

Worse still, when our plans for children don’t work out as we want, we begin to feel angry. But wait a minute, whom are we angry against? Do we really need to turn to infertility support groups to “talk out frustrations, anger, and all the other emotions that go with this?” We had better beware, for we are then turning to the world for “help”—and the world has none to give the child of God. Also we are fanning our anger against the God Who alone gives and withholds children in His sovereign good pleasure.

Thus, in forgetting the one truth, that He gives and withholds children as He has eternally decreed, we tend to forget too, to realize that it is all “if He wills” we shall do this or that. And this isn’t only with our outward plans in our daily living—it covers everything, including childbirth. This in turn takes honour from Him and is displeasing unto Him.

My reason for writing to you is to encourage all of our young, newlywed couples, and the not-so-recently wed ones too. Have deep in your hearts the knowledge that we receive our children only by His gracious will and good pleasure. Learn to wait upon Him, and not, as we so often do, to become impatient, as if, having waited a few years we “know” we are never going to start a family…. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:4-6. And also, “Trust in the LORD and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday,” Psalm 37:3-6.

How can we follow the above admonitions? Only by grace! By filling our lives as young wives, with the joyful activities of caring for our husbands, (our primary calling: Genesis 2:18), building up our homes, attending on the means of grace faithfully together (which includes society meetings, Bible studies, etc.), rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep. Then, striving hard to serve the Lord in all these ways, we shall forget selfish longings, avoid sinful coveting after not-yet-given children—even when we see friends around us blessed with babies—and we shall be pleasing unto our God.

Do not pander to sinful anger and brooding on what you have not got. Rather, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). And, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:6). And, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18). And then with Paul we can begin to say, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” For in all these ways, we can avoid falling into self-centered and self-pitying attitudes of mind.

This isn’t easy! The Lord never promised us an easy life when we follow Him, for He warned that we must daily take up our cross and follow Him. If that cross is, for you, a few years of waiting for a child, then do not complain. What He has ordained for each one of His children is always and only the very best no matter how hard that way may seem to us.

We came under the PR preaching back in 1978, through the providential working of the Lord in our lives. But He also took us through the deep way of suffering for the truth’s sake, and eventually brought us to reliance upon taped worship services each Lord’s Day, in which we thankfully receive His richest blessings. I could also sit down and howl my heart out because I wanted to bring our family to the USA in order to have them grow up as you dear saints have been doing, with church, school and daily fellowship with fellow believers of like mind. It seemed to me that it was too hard to bear the loneliness. However, the Lord has shown us that our place is still to be right here. For how long, we do not know. But if we (and you) are in the Lord’s place, we are in the right place. This includes our place/position in our whole life. Right? God’s place (and situation, and circumstances), is always and only the right place to be.

I hope that this letter will be some encouragement to our much-loved fellowsaints, and strengthen those dear sisters who wait for their families to be given them of our heavenly Father, with patience. By grace alone.

Yours in Christ,