Written by: Amber Canavan
Infertility is a season of motherhood for many women. A season which can feel empty and alone. If you are going through or have been through this season, you are not alone. Several women in the Bible struggled with infertility, and the Bible tells us they were barren. Let’s take a quick look at six of these barren women and see some things we can learn from this season of their motherhood.
- Sarah (Abraham’s wife / Isaac’s mother) “But Sarai was barren; she had no child.” Genesis 11:30, 16:1-2
- Rebekah (Isaac’s wife / Jacob & Esau’s mother) “Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife because she was barren”. Genesis 25:21
- Rachel (Jacob’s wife / Joseph’s mother) “…Rachel was barren.” Genesis 29:31
- Manoah’s nameless wife (Samson’s mother) “There was a certain man … whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren…” Judges 13:2
- Hannah (Elkannah’s wife / Samuel’s mother) “…Elkannah …had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah…. The Lord had shut up her womb.” 1 Samuel 1:1-5
- Elisabeth (Zecharius’ wife / John the Baptist’s mother) “And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren.” Luke 1:7
God was not surprised by the infertility of these women, nor is He surprised by ours. Throughout Scripture, we see the phrase that God closed or opened wombs. Sometimes barrenness is used in the Bible to reveal God’s judgment, while other times, it is used to showcase God’s glory in the life of a woman who could not have a child without Him. Each of the six barren women mentioned here was enabled by God to miraculously conceive a child with a divine purpose.
- Sarah teaches us that God’s timeline is not ours. We may think that God should let us move out of this season of barrenness within three or even ten years. But let’s not forget that God’s ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Sarah spent many decades in this season of motherhood, but God proved He is not constricted by time. He has no limits.
- Rebekah’s story reveals the power of intercession. Though I am sure Rebekah prayed for a child, it is her husband that we read about going to God on her behalf. God answers Isaac’s prayer for Rebekah to conceive. Maybe you are reading this blog post, but you are not barren. Never underestimate the power of the prayers you pray on behalf of others. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)
- Rachel teaches us about the stronghold of discontentment. She let her season of barrenness cause jealousy and hatred in her heart, which pushed her away from God. We must choose to be content in the season of life God has us in. There is a difference in longing for a child and demanding to have a child. Discontentment has destroyed many marriages. If you are discontent with this season of life, you will probably find something to be discontent with during the next season. We can have peace even in this hard season of barrenness when we place our complete trust in the Lord. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
- Manoah’s wife teaches the importance of having a personal relationship with God. During Old Testament times, God did not speak to just anyone, and usually just revealed himself to great men of God. But God chose to meet with this woman. We learn from the passage that she was a godly woman who feared the Lord and kept His commandments. She recognized that it was the Angel of the Lord that appeared to her, and she believed His words. God could have spoken to her husband, but He chose to talk to her. We must have our own personal walk with the Lord. There are things during this season of life that God wants to teach us personally and reveal more of Himself to us. We must be ready to listen and recognize His voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
- Hannah shows us the power of prayer. She took her heartaches to the very one who could do something about it. She poured out her heart to God instead of just wallowing in self-pity. During the season of barrenness, it is so easy to feel sorry for ourselves. But we need to take our burden and heart’s desire to the feet of Jesus. Hannah sought God during this season of her life. In her deepest distress, she ran to the only one who could provide answers and comfort. We can run to Jesus with the longings in our hearts. Even though God knows how we feel, He tells us in His word to pour out our hearts to Him, because He is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)
- Elizabeth teaches us that we do not have to let this season dictate how our life goes. Elizabeth did not allow her barrenness to control her life. She accepted it, though she still faithfully prayed for a child. She was known as blameless and righteous, a very godly woman who was well-respected. She did not let her lack of children keep her from serving the Lord. We can use this season in our life to make a difference in the lives of others around us. We can use this barren time to invest in the young women God has put into our paths. Elizabeth encouraged Mary when everyone else was casting judgment on her. Be an encourager. Use the extra time you have right now to make a difference in the life of someone else. Mentor a younger lady in your family or church. (Titus 2:4-5)
We can learn so many more things from these six women, but these are what God has been working with me on. Barrenness is not a curse from God. It is a season that He allows many of us to go through, some for much longer than others. Each of these stories shows us that God is the only one who can make the impossible possible. It is God who can take this painful season of barrenness and turn it into something beautiful. Psalm 113:7 says, “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.”