Stories in the OT often present Infertility as withholding of blessing, a punishment, or maybe even a curse? Would love to hear what you think
Two stories that come to mind immediately are of Sarah and Hannah. As far as I’m aware, Sarah was unable to have children, whereas for Hannah, “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Sam 1:5). What this actually means though, I haven’t yet discovered. Is it literally that the Lord DID close her womb/prevent conceiving. Or is it just a turn of phrase common to writings of that era that depict her inability to conceive?
Either way in both cases, the Lord did enable them both to conceive in time. And the only thing I can offer here is that as I see it, the timings were crucial in both instances. Isaac had to be conceived and born when he was in order for the rest of the story to play out, and likewise for Samuel too.
Was the earlier barrenness a punishment or curse? I’d suggest probably not but more God preparing to show His glory, power and perfect timings in everything. Also, there’s something incredibly prophetic about the story of Isaac being firstborn, offered as a sacrifice and then ‘raised up’ again. I doubt the story would have had the same significance if Isaac was a later sibling to earlier children.
I’m also interested to hear what you and others might think.
This is my first time replying to a question in RZIM Connect, as I want to get a feel and learn from everyone else first, but your topic compels me to respond as my wife and I have been expecting a child for 11yrs, and in the 3rd year we had to deal with the heartache of a miscarriage.
Now coming from a traditional chinese culture (I’m Chinese-Indonesian), we both faced extreme pressure from well-meaning family, relatives and friends who incessantly gave more advices and opinions than we are interested in. But by now, we have made peace with this fact, and learnt that it is more biblical to be content w our situation, content w each other’s company as we can do so many things that couple with kids couldn’t do as easily, but at the same time we are still in prayer and have not given up hope of a child.
A little bit of testimony why we still dare to hope and pray. We are not a close
-minded couple, when family or friends suggested proper and logical medical solutions, we would explore them. But illogical, superstitious methods, we will readily dismiss. Long story short, we got to a point where all gynecologist/specialist diagnose us as normal, healthy, not lacking in any biological ability to have a child, both from my side and my wife’s side. And before each check-up, we would pray to God to reveal His will through the doctors, and whatever they will diagnose we will accept and will do what is suggested, as if it is from God Himself. So I will be cheeky, after every diagnose, I will purposely ask them if we should explore any alternatives, like IVF and the likes. And surprisingly, they are, I believe, God-led, as they are not greedy in suggesting that we should try the normal way, and they suggested strongly against alternatives, as they are unnecessarily strenous and expensive, since we are normally not incapable.
Now that my testimony is out of the way, let me get to what we have gotten from God all these years.
We all know in Genesis that it is God’s design for mankind to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). And Israel’s fertility is a testament of God’s blessing as well as a threat to the Egyptians before the exodus.
There are many instances, which I presume you are familiar in coming to the conclusion you made, like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah, where God seems to bless them, not withholding from them by opening the wombs. I believe these instances are to show us that God is sovereign over the fertility of His creation. It doesn’t necessarily means that infertility is definitely a curse or a blessing. It could well be, but not always so. To give a contextual understanding of the Old Testament days, we have to remember these instances are a strong statement by God against all the neighboring countries, where fertility gods are one of the most prevalent idolatries by pagan worshippers.
Even though mankind is mandated to “multiply”, the apostle Paul endorsed celibacy and lived it Himself, so did Jesus. So this doesn’t mean every specific person is meant to, or must, procreate life. The burden is on mankind as a whole, but not on every specific individual. If it isn’t so, then Jesus and Paul have failed miserably.
The sin, in any context for that matter, is and has always been not being content with God or we value something else more than God. A sin, both childless couple and couple with children, are equally capable of, in wanting a child more than God, or valuing their children at the expense of God.
But we must know, in the New Testament, we are not under blessing/curse of the previous generation, as we are living under the grace of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection means our sins are perfectly forgiven by God when we accept Him as our saviour.
It is not ungodly to go for medical check-ups, and explore alternate medical solutions. Whatever the diagnosis, always remember that God is sovereign. He can make miracles possible, it could also be a divine delay, but He can also choose to let it be. And we must be content with whatever His will is. Don’t let whatever condition we are struggling with today, handicapped us from being optimal and productive for God’s work. (In fact, maybe God wills this current condition, for the work He has prepared for us)
Sorry for the lengthy post, as I try to cover as many of the bases as I can. Hope they prove somewhat useful to adequately answer your question and the subsequent questions you may even raise. Feel free for anyone to CMIIW and offer counter-perspectives. I’m ready to learn too.
Blessings of Christ,
Don’t worry about the lengthy post @RoySujanto. I thought it was brilliant.
Thank you for your answer. I appreciate you taking so much time to write such a detailed answer. I should’ve phrased my question better, i dont hold the view that its a curse or punishment. I hope i didnt offend you in anyway. God bless you
That makes a lot of sense. Thank you