Although I have not struggled with infertility, it is a topic that has interested me since I know women who have faced this issue. Recently, I became curious as to what the Bible had to say about infertility. I was surprised at what I discovered. I have no statistics concerning the rate of infertility, but I suppose it was higher since there were no tests, procedures, or fertility drugs available back then. (I do know that mother and infant mortality was higher due to lack of medical care.) Children were a sign of God's blessing, so all couples dreaded infertility. It was a stigma to not have children. What had a person done wrong to incur the punishment of God?
Here are some of the women (and men) in the Bible who struggled with infertility. I hope this brief article and original poem are an inspiration to you!
~Abraham and Sarah had given up hope of ever having their own children when God gave Abraham the promise that he and Sarah would have a son whose offspring would be greater than the stars in the sky. Sarah laughed at the promise of God since she was well past the child-bearing years, but God fulfilled his promise with the birth of Isaac. (You can read more about the story in Genesis 16-21.)
~Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, married Rebekah. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 25:21 that Isaac pleaded to the Lord for his wife who was barren. It was 20 years after their marriage that the Lord blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Jacob and Esau.
~Jacob married sisters Rachel and Leah. Leah had six sons and a daughter, but the Lord had closed Rachel's womb. Rachel tried everything she could think of to have children. Once in anguish, she cried out to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die" (Genesis 30:1). Jacob in anger replied, "Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" It wasn't until the Lord opened her womb that she bore Joseph and Benjamin. She died giving birth to Benjamin.
~The Scriptures do not tell us the name of Samson's mother, but she was childless until an angel appeared to the wife of Manoah promising a male child, a Nazarite, who would judge the children of Israel (Judges 13).
~King David married Michal (daughter of King Saul). The Bible tells us in 2 Samuel 6:23 that Michal never bore children.
~Elkanah had two wives. His favorite wife Hannah was barren. Peninnah, the other wife, taunted Hannah since she had no children. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, promising to give him back to the Lord's work. God answered her prayer with the birth of Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. (1 Samuel 1).
~2 Kings 4:8-17 relates the account of the Shunammite woman, whom the Bible calls the great woman. She was great in faith, wisdom, and silence. She opened her home to the prophet Elisha and made him his own little private chamber, a favorite place of retreat for him. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality, but she made it clear that she was not seeking honor, recognition, or favors from him. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, told Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. Elisha's promise that she would have a son when spring came around again was fulfilled.
~The Bible describes Elisabeth, the cousin of Mary who bore Jesus, as well-stricken in years and barren. She and her husband Zachariah had long already given up hope of ever bearing a child, when an angel appeared to Zachariah promising a son. That son was John the Baptist, the forerunner and greatest prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (See Luke 1 for the story.)
Except for Michal, God opened all the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances the women were clearly beyond child bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. I do not understand the ways of God, but I know he can and does perform miracles, even today.
Psalm 113:9 "He maketh the barren woman to keep
house and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD."
Written September, 2000