What if Christian Couples Can’t ‘Bear Fruit and Multiply’?

Whether there is a physical or spiritual root for not having children, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God sees us. That He cares. And that He has a good plan for our lives and our family.

Couple looking at a negative pregnancy test

Despite our best-laid plans, life is full of unforeseen twists and turns. Infertility was one of those unexpected bends in the road for my husband and me.

Infertility is such a public and private pain all at once. People will add their two cents in, regardless of whether or not they resonate with the journey of infertility. Most of the time, their words were far less helpful or anchoring than Scripture’s words on the matter for me.

One very precious woman said something so sweet to me about our empty cradle. She asked how we were, and I replied, “Filled to the brim and overflowing with the Lord’s blessing!” She asked in a hushed tone if I was pregnant.

My face fell. “No. No, I’m not.” She had some genetic health issues affecting her organs that made pregnancy and potential deformity in the baby too risky for both of them. She grabbed my hand and said, “Well, guess what?! Me neither!”

“Me too” or in this case “me neither” can be some of the sweetest words of comfort in the English language. And in its own way, the Bible has its own “me neither” stories for those of us enduring infertility.

1. A Closed Womb Can Reveal God’s Will 

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years (Luke 1:6-7).

God closed Elizabeth’s womb so that their baby would be identified as special, set apart, and ultimately revealing the glory of God. God did this for Samson’s mother and Isaac’s mother as well. You can read about Samson and Isaac in Judges 13:2-25 and Isaac in Genesis 17:15-21

2. Waiting for a Baby Can Be a Blessed Growing Season

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived (Genesis 25:21).

Sometimes God withholds a blessing from us because there is something He is growing in us in the meantime. He is preparing us and also developing our relationship with Him as we press into Him in prayer for the answer.

This happened with Isaac and Rebecca, who had no children until Isaac prayed for his wife. I’ve heard from other couples that experienced a similar awakening of spiritual leadership in their husband as a result of the couple’s unfulfilled desire to have a baby.

3. God Can Work Good in a Season of Waiting

…And the LORD remembered her. It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

It might be argued that both the above reasons were at work in the situation with Samuel and his mother, Hannah. God was setting Samuel apart but also setting his mother apart in her relationship with God as well because she pressed into God especially hard because of her lack of a child. After Samuel was born, she had other children.

So, while we can’t know for certain what God was doing with the delay of children, it might be that the Lord was allowing her to experience some pain or a certain loneliness so that He could develop something special within her, without the distractions that would have claimed her attention if God had initially simply supplied children in the normal fashion for her.

4. God Might Fulfill His Promise in Other Ways

And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers (Luke 2:36-37).

Sometimes, God leaves a couple without children because their calling to serve Him isn’t fulfilled in bearing children, but in doing something else. Anna in the temple was like this.

After her husband passed away, she committed her whole life’s energy to fasting and praying for God’s people. So, we can know she didn’t have a little one she was tending after her husband passed, she was simply by herself with the Lord and her service to Him.

If having children remains a heart need, it could be God has fashioned your family situation uniquely for adoption or foster parenting, both of which are needed and are special places of ministry to God’s children.

5. God Uses the Impossible to Show Us His Glory

Then he said, At this season next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.” The woman conceived and bore a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had said to her (2 Kings 4:16-17).

Sometimes there are things in our lives that grieve us, but in that God can display His glory and presence in our lives. The Shunammite woman that Elijah helped could not have children and though she did not ask God or Elijah for a child, through the wise counsel of his servant, Elijah realized it was the deepest desire of her heart.

Because God had closed her womb, this miracle allowed God to reach into her life and let her know He saw her and cared about her.

Whether there is a physical or spiritual root for not having children, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God sees us. That He cares. And that He has a good plan for our lives and our family.

What Does This Mean?

After nearly 10 years of marriage, the Lord blessed us with a baby boy. He was a complete surprise! Two years later, I excitedly found myself pregnant again, but this little one was not to join our family this side of heaven. We have remained the “three musketeers.”

I could not begin to explain what exactly God was doing with all the twists and turns. But I can say, He has been there the whole way with us; comforting, helping, turning ashes into beauty, and revealing Himself to us.

I hope that while you walk your own faith and family-building journey, you see God’s hand evident in your situation and that you are propelled nearer to Him through all of it.

For further reading:

How Are Children Gifts from God?

Why Did God Withhold from His Most Faithful in the Bible?

Love from the Garden to the Silver Screen

How Did a Husband’s Love Help in the Face of Barrenness in the Bible?

What Do We Know about Adam and Eve’s Children?

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