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Devotional Archives
(July 16, 2002)

Answers Beyond the Petition

      By Fern Horst

"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalm 113:9)

Verses in the Bible like this one have alternatively caused many people much hope and comfort, and others much despair and bitterness. Obviously God has done just that for many women. But just as obviously, He hasn't for many others.

For all the Hannahs, Rebekahs, Sarahs, and Elizabeths whose wombs were opened and their desires fulfilled, there are just as many Pauls who asked God three times to grant a particular petition of his. Rather than his request being granted, God gave him His grace instead - the ability to live without his request being fulfilled.

So how do we read such verses if they don't apply in the same way to everyone?

First of all, we must realize that all of God's Word is true, and indeed this particular verse is as well. We serve a God who can, and who often has, given children to barren women. We serve a God who can against all odds enable a woman who is 100 years old to become pregnant and have a baby! This same God also caused a virgin woman to give birth even though she'd never been intimate with a man! We know these stories in the Bible, but we often overlook what they mean for us: that we serve an awesome and powerful God!

That God whom we serve also has a bigger picture and purpose in mind than just enabling barren women to have babies, incredible as that is. He also has the power to, in a spiritual sense, make barren women to be joyful "mothers" of "children," and to give a name better than one passed on by sons and daughters to single men who serve Him.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth," was written in the Bible by a single man about the spiritual "children" he had nurtured and birthed into God's Kingdom (3 John 1:4). Isaiah 54 and 56 also speak of these truths. Throughout history it has often been through single and childless men and women that God has brought many into His Kingdom. He has also used many mothers and fathers to raise up great individuals for the work of His Kingdom. One role is not greater than the other: all are needed to fulfill God's bigger picture and plan.

How is God going to grant the fulfillment of Psalm 113:9 for you and for me? Only He knows. But whichever way He chooses - in a physical or a spiritual sense, or even both - we can know that our God is powerful and able to use each one of us to fulfill a larger picture and purpose than we can possibly begin to see with our human eyes.

In that we can rejoice - that we serve such an awesome God!

© 2002 Fern Horst

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