Good news for the childless

Every morning we’ve been working through a Psalm. We recently read these words in Psalm 113

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord![1]

These are beautiful words but what exactly do they mean for woman desperate and unable to have children. Come to think of it, whilst it mentions the woman becoming a mother, this must include the husbands in childless couples who would love to be fathers too.

I’ve heard wonderful stories of people who have been miraculously given children. They are joyful to hear. God is amazing and good. However for every family who experience that miraculous intervention there are many more who don’t. It is good to hear their testimonies but when talking to someone who hasn’t been able to have children it is important that we are careful not to say “God gave such and such a family children and he can do it for you.”

It would be similar to me talking to someone who is drowning in debt and saying “God  raises the poor and needy. When I was first living in the South of England, living costs were high and production engineer salaries not so much. So there was a level of anxiety as I got to the end of the month that I would go into the red but I remember times when I looked at my bank balance and amazingly it never went into the red. You too can pray and God will look after your finances.”  

So, what do we say to those who long for children but cannot have them? Well, I want to suggest that there are multiple ways in which God answers this prayer. One way is the amazing provision of a child, with or without medical assistance. However, for others it means being able to foster or adopt. There is a big need for this. Then within the family of God’s people we can be mothers and fathers to some many children, especially in a church like ours where there are lots of families with just one parent and a lot of needs.  Finally, there is a sense in which we can be spiritual parents as we play our part in leading people to Christ, in discipling them and in caring for them spiritually.

For every person in the church praying for a son or daughter, there is someone praying for a mother and father.

I believe there is good news in the Gospel for the childless, just as there is good news for the poor. In the same way, we do not promise financial relief to those struggling with hardship or guaranteed health to the sick. This is true even though sometimes God does provide in that way. Rather, we can be sure that the poor can say that they are in Christ. Lacking in material provision they can enjoy the provision of spiritual blessing, forgiveness of sin, hope of resurrection, a place in God’s family.

In the same way, we pray with those who are single and lonely that they will find someone to love and marry. We hope that this will happen for them. However we cannot promise it. Yet, we can say to everyone in the church, “You will have your white wedding day.” This is because we know that we will be present at the wedding feast of the lamb and together we are his bride.

Jesus talks about those who are poor in spirit and if we go without things we desire either for a short time due to a virus or longer term due to our circumstances, we can not only learn to trust in Christ but also discover how he meets our deeper, greater needs.

[1] Psalm 113: 7-9.

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