Do Protestants Have the "Fullness of the Faith"?
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Do Protestants Have the "Fullness of the Faith"?

Hope in Infertility

Posted June 10, 2024
Hope

The grief of infertility is a silent burden. When a mother loses a child, she can openly weep and be comforted, but few understand how to join someone in mourning the loss of something that never was.

In the Old Covenant, Israel’s promise of salvation was tied to the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:16), so barrenness was seen as a curse (Prov. 30:16; Isa. 49:21). No children literally meant no hope. But anyone who has looked into their future, longing for children and seeing none, understands that barrenness also depicts a particular kind of desolation. What else feels forsaken like the ache of empty arms? God uses this language of the womb to reveal to his people the depths of woe, and this tells those grieving at least one thing: God understands your sorrow.

Psalm 113, however, is a joyous occasion that celebrates the gift of God’s opening the womb and making it fruitful—praise the Lord! These promises of children to come ripple throughout the Old Testament (Exod. 23:26; Deut. 7:14). When God sees that Leah is hated by her husband while her sister Rachel is loved, God opens her womb (Gen. 29:31), and from her line comes the Messiah! We see this with Sarah (Gen. 17), Hannah (1 Sam. 1), and Elizabeth (Luke 1). Again and again, God gives barren women children.

Although this shows us the nature of our gracious God and his love for women, his tenderness with their grief, and his bountiful provision in their place of lack, it doesn’t necessarily help the woman in your church who has hoped for years to be blessed with children and yet has none. God doesn’t give all women little ones to fill the nursery—some wombs stay closed; some women remain single. This Old Testament language of covenantal blessing and curse through childbearing might cause the woman struggling to conceive today to ask, “Am I cursed?” The answer is “No” and “God has a promise for you, too.”

No, you’re not cursed because childbearing no longer represents the hope of the Messiah to come—he is already here! He has ushered in a new family, the church, and has brought fulfillment to the words of the prophet Isaiah which read:

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.Isaiah 54:1

These words are for the church. This song is about Israel, the people of God, the bride of Christ. Women in the family of God today may have many, many children—spiritual children (Titus 2:3–6; 1 Tim. 5:1–2). Jesus institutes this new family himself in Luke 8:21, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” The New Testament church (our church!) is a fulfillment of Psalm 68:6: “God sets the lonely in families” (NIV). Sam Allberry writes, “We’re the families of Psalm 68 in which God is placing the lonely . . . When God draws people to himself, he draws them to one another as well. The people of Jesus Christ are to be family.”

And so, women in the church, whether biological mothers or not, have a responsibility to care for, nurture, and raise up younger believers (Rom. 16:13). Indeed, they will have a multitude of spiritual offspring! And these will be eternal children. Biological sons and daughters may walk away from the faith, despise their parents, or turn from God—but brothers and sisters in the body of Christ share an everlasting kinship. We will continue to celebrate together forever at the feast of the Lamb, when weakness and weeping have been left behind, when God himself will wipe away every tear (Rev. 21:4).


Dig deeper with these free resources from Core Christianity:

  • For more resources on care for the vulnerable and protection of life, read Core Christianity devotional: Fearfully Made


Footnotes

  • Sam Allberry, 7 Myths About Singleness, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 68.

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Mary Van Weelden

Mary Van Weelden is a writer and a journalist, and is currently working on a double M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies at Westminster Seminary California. She and her husband are actively searching for the best taco place in Escondido, CA. Come talk to her about practical theology and comma placements on Twitter at @agirlnamedmary.

Photo of Arie Van Weelden
Arie Van Weelden

Arie Van Weelden is a book nerd, sports fan, and movie lover from Wisconsin. He’s in his third year at Westminster Seminary pursuing his M.Div. and serves as a pastoral intern for a local church. He and his wife love bird-watching and trips to the beach. When he’s not reading theology, he’s actively engaging in his role as the World’s Greatest Uncle.