“…And his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman (“Faithful”) and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have no children, but you shall become pregnant and bear a son.’”
Judges 13:2-3, Amplified Bible
“Emptied To Be Filled”
“Barrenness” – No vegetation. Not fruitful. With no useful result. Lacking in something. Unable to have children.
“To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.”
What part of my life feels barren?
Have I asked God to “fill me up?”
“Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou art full, that thou mayest be filled with that whereof thou art empty.”
“Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord…He makes the barren woman to be a homemaker and a joyful mother of spiritual children. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!”
Psalm 113: 1, 9, Amplified Bible
It is a day I will never forget. My doctor had asked me to come to his office where he delivered the life-altering news. “You’ll never be able to have children, Dorothy.” When he finished explaining why, you could have heard a pin drop. I was stunned. I had always thought that when I married, children would naturally be part of my life. I think most women feel this way. Yet at a very young age, the ability to have children was taken away from me forever with little warning or time to prepare myself for the shock.
As time passed, and Jim and I were married for a number of years, people began to ask questions. Very nosy ones! “Why haven’t you had a baby?” “How long are you going to wait?” And this question that really left me shaking me head, “Are you too selfish to share your lives with a child?” Believe me, it’s amazing what comes out of some mouths and like a dagger pierces your heart.
Barrenness. This condition in Biblical times was viewed as a curse of God. From Sarah in the Old Testament to Elizabeth in the New Testament, and in between, we find that infertility is not only a 21st century affliction. Women throughout history have been plagued with this problem. Our text today, underscores the view of women who could not conceive by referencing this fact not once, but twice: “You are barren, and have no children.”
Interestingly, when we hear the word barren, our thoughts usually turn first to women who can’t “bear” a child. But as I have lived for over half my life with the fact that “bearing” children for me was a physical impossibility –- what I have come to recognize is that barrenness doesn’t just have to do with the state of a woman’s uterus, it has to do with the state of our hearts and souls, too. For a mother with a child can be as barren as a mother without a child.
In the definition of barrenness, we find that this condition is described as lacking vegetation – nothing grows. A barren tree doesn’t produce fruit. There’s nothing useful or bountiful coming from something or someone. And I ask you, does this sound like your life? Have you ever felt barren – void of “life?” Has your vitality been sapped? Has the life been drained out of you and now nothing fresh and new will grow?
What I learned in my own life was that the barrenness I felt at not being able to have a child, helped me understand better something very important about my soul. While I felt empty at the thought of never having a child I could hold in my arms, I soon found when I was at my lowest, and feeling the most drained – when the well was totally empty – it was then that my heavenly Father used His incredible and unlimited resources to show me that at the point of our greatest emptiness, is when He can fill us the most, if we will let Him.
The great John Bunyan penned these insightful words: “It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit because there is no winter there.” Maybe at this moment in time, you feel winter’s snowy blast freezing your heart, and yet, during this emptied aloneness you may find that God is filling you to overflowing.
And when the spring thaw arrives, heaven’s promise will melt the blocks of ice that have impeded your steps and as you begin to feel God’s refreshing, renewal again, you’ll find that indeed, as Isaiah so beautifully tells us, “….the wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badland will celebrate and flower – like the crocus in Spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color” (Isaiah 35: 1, 2, The Message). What was a barren wasteland will become a fertile meadow. What was empty and dry will be filled to overflowing.
This is what happened to Manoah’s wife, “Faithful.” The Bible tells us an Angel of God appeared and informed her she would “conceive” and “bear,” or as the Hebrew translation so descriptively tells us, “Faithful,” would “deliver a lineage of greatness!” WOW! If you are feeling barren today, no matter how this barrenness presents itself in your life – God has a plan at work in this winter of your life and soon He is going to “deliver a lineage of greatness,” in your life, too.
I have this special quote taped above the phone in my kitchen. It was given to me by my dear friend, Adrianne Gambucci and it is from S. D. Gordon, “More is being planned for you by God than had been prayed for by us.” This is my prayer for your life today.
“Emptiness is a gift that opens us further to the transforming power of God.”
For Childless Women
A meditation on Psalm 139
“You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I may as well add ‘spun me, wove me’ too,
Or better still, ‘embroidered me.’
With care you picked the colour for my eyes,
Decided how much curl to give my hair
And whether it would match well with my skin.
If You knew my mother’s womb so intimately
It stands to reason You know mine.
This dusty work-box, unfathomed, wasted,
Now rebellious. What can You see there
From which to fashion anything worthwhile,
Some rusty pins, a few old buttons,
Some faded silk wound round half a letter.
All neglected, left unused too long?
Oh God of miracles, what will You do with these?”
Ro Eldin White
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said…’The Lord has done great things for (her).’”
Psalm 126: 3, N.I.V.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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