Sometimes when women or couples experiencing infertility read Genesis or other books in the Old Testament, it can be discouraging. In certain parts of Scripture, infertility is declared a spiritual curse from God, and fertility a blessing. Infertile couples feel bad enough already. Now they read the Bible for hope and comfort and can end up feeling more rejected and damaged than ever. Add to this the “help” of some Christians who lay not-so-subtle, not-so-Scriptural judgment on them via referencing this. “Maybe you just need to pray more.” “Is there something holding back God’s hand from blessing you?” “Maybe it’s because you didn’t have so-and-so pray over you; his/her prayers for pregnancy always work.” “Well, I was having trouble, but I just gave it to God and got pregnant immediately; you should just release it to God too.”
The Bible seems preoccupied with fertility for only one reason, however, and that reason is Jesus Christ. Yes, the ancient world and the modern one, as far as I can see, both see infertility as tragic and painful, maybe for different reasons, but the lion’s share of fertility tracking in Genesis (and other places) is about preserving the kingly, Messianic line of Judah from which comes King David and then the King of Kings: Jesus Christ.
It becomes interesting to follow this. Genesis 22 is often seen as a chapter that points to Christ and our Heavenly Father in the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Isaiah 53:10 brings out the poignancy of this. Genesis 20 and 21, it turns out, are no less focused on Christ. Issac, the son of Sarah, is the chosen one, even though Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, are lovingly tended to. God keeps a promise to Abraham that is really a promise to each and every one of us. Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise.
It is helpful to consider what other big problems we may be going through in life and how they might not be about “bad things happening” because we didn’t do something right. This cold-hearted, proverbial view of God and His economy is shot down by the oldest book in the Bible: Job. Then it is completely invalidated by the Gospels and the story of the life of Jesus Christ to whom the worst of bad things happen. In the end, it is so important to realize that we don’t earn anything from God. (See Genesis 20:6 to see that not even our obedience can be credited to our account alone. God is behind everything!) We can’t buy blessings from God with behavior OR belief. Blessings from God are from God. We cannot control God or how His blessings are dispersed. We don’t pray to influence God; we pray so God will influence us. Though He often leads us to pray as part of the process of how He answers our prayers, the whole process belongs to Him. God gets to play the part of God every time. And what a relief this is!
Intermixed in these stories of provision, anointing, and blessing early on in Scripture is a constant, clear picture of a God who cares. So forget about trying harder to get something from God. Focus on what He’s already given. You’ll be surprised where this leads. Shannon and I have been. This is the key to inner peace Jesus presented at the end of Matthew 6. “Seek Me first,” He said. What He really is saying is “Seek Me INSTEAD; I’ll take care of the rest. You’ll see.” Forsake the blessings you crave for the Blesser, and be set free from hopelessness and any idol you may have made out of your desire for a blessing.
(Writing, Part 2 coming soon…)