Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Are Children Truly a Blessing from the Lord?

Leslie: Children are a blessing even for imperfect people.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You may have a seriously messed up family tree, and you might have fearful thoughts about bringing more children into that family line. But just a reminder that God is the Redeeming God, and Christ can redeem your family line.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, June 24.

Statistics tell us there are more televisions per household than children per household, but the Bible doesn’t say, “Television is a blessing from the Lord.” Find out why the Bible described children as a blessing as Nancy continues the series, Affirmations of the True Woman Manifesto, Part 3.

Nancy: I have some very dear friends who last week were taking care of three of their grandchildren, three little granddaughters who were age 5 and under for five days so that the mom and dad, their daughter and son-in-law, could take a special anniversary trip. As you might imagine, this was not an easy thing.

I got an email in the middle of that period from “Gramps,” as they call him, and he described to me what he and Nana had gone through that day. Here’s what he said:

6:45 - Three and five-year-olds jump into bed and begin disputing with each other.
7:30 - Dirty diapers and dress time.
8:00 - Breakfast with less-than-happy campers.
9:00 - Played with grandkids:

Laid on concrete so they could draw chalk around me.
Sat on asphalt so they could play push ball with me.
Wrestled in the grass so they could climb on me.
Rode bicycles where they crashed into me.

That was the morning.

12:00 - Peanut and butter jelly sandwiches.
12:30 - Two more grandkids show up—now there are five.
1:30   - Road bikes again.
2:00   - Pet horses and climb tree.
3:00   - Purchased my first Blizzard in ten years.
3:30   - Go to park and sit on bench while grandkids hit every apparatus. 4:30   - Total social injustice—kids call me “mean” on the way home after all I did for them.
5:00   - Go home to get ready for supper.
5:45   - Go out for supper where my three join up with six more.
8:00   - Home to give kids baths.
8:30   - Kids crying, whining and all-round unhappy (past their bedtimes).
8:30   - Do dishes while Nana puts kids to bed.
9:30   - Hope to talk to my wife.

Well, some of you’ve been there, and as I read that, my heart went out to Gramps and Nana, and then my heart really went out to the daughter who is home with these three children the other 360 days of the year and actually has a fourth now—the fourth was with her—so she has four children age five and under. She loves being a mother, loves her children, and considers them a blessing even though there are days when you say nothing else gets done.

But this brings us to a happy point in our True Woman Manifesto, and one that I think we want to particularly emphasize, and that is that children are a blessing from God, and that’s this next statement in the Manifesto. Let me read the whole affirmation:

Children are a blessing from God; women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life, whether it be their own biological or adopted children, or other children in their sphere of influence.

I read an article while I was putting this session together called “Born to Nurture?” The author said,

With few exceptions, the global trend from—east to west is later marriage, delayed motherhood and fewer children. And in some countries, pampered pets. In the U.K. the pet industry is booming—3.5 billion pounds a year—as more couples opt to have pets instead of babies.

These trends have altered definitions of "family" and have even spawned new words such as DINKS—the acronym describing couples with "Dual Income, No Kids." Meanwhile, in the U.S., the number of fertility clinics has increased nine-fold since 1986, as more women who delay conceiving find it difficult to do so in their later 30s and 40s.1

In fact, on average in the United States today, there are 2.24 TV's per household and 1.89 children per household—more TV's per household than children.

The world—not everybody in the world, but the essential world—view of children, particularly in our modern era, is that children past a certain point, past that 1.89 children, that children are a burden; that they’re too expensive (“We can’t afford to have children.”); that they’re an interruption to our lives, to our plans. They are an inconvenience.

How contrary this is to God’s view of children.

Do a study sometime if you really wonder about this, so you want to know, “How should you feel about children?” As you’re praying and thinking, if you’re in the season of life where you’re asking the Lord, “Should you have children, and how many children should you have?”—which, by the way, I cannot answer that question for you. Okay? Some of you are going to write and say, “How many children should I have? Should I have more children?” I cannot tell you the answer to that question, but what I can encourage you to do is to go to God’s Word.

Use a concordance and look up every reference you can find to children. Now, this will take you a while because there are a lot of references to children in the Old and in the New Testaments. Just look at the context and see what God’s Word has to say about children. Now, there were good children and bad children, righteous children and evil children, righteous parents, evil parents. You’ll find a lot of things. But look at how God used children. As you get into God’s Word, you will come to the inescapable conclusion that children are a gift. Children are a blessing, and they come from God.

As you read through the biblical account, you’ll see in the Scripture that children were longed for. They were prayed for. They were received with joy, even in old age, and some of them a really old age. Remember Sarah at 90? But Sarah, Rachel, Elisabeth, Hannah, these were women who longed for children, who prayed for children, who considered children a good gift from the Lord.

You see children as being a blessing from God. In Genesis chapter 17, God said to Abraham in relation to his wife Sarah, “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her” (verse 16, NASB). Blessing and children often go together. He says, “Then I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations.” Not just one child, but a mother of nations. And He’s talking about a post-menopausal woman. This is a blessing, "Kings of peoples will come from her."

Then in Genesis 28, we see Isaac blessing his son Jacob. He says, “God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.” This was considered a favor, a mark of divine blessing that your children would have children and their children would have children.

In Genesis 33:5, there’s a passage where the brothers, twins, Jacob and Esau, are seeing each other for the first time in many years after being alienated and separated. Jacob comes with this whole host of women and children with him. Esau lifts up his eyes, he sees the women and the children, and he says, “Who are these with you? Jacob said, 'The children whom God has graciously given your servant.'" That’s the mindset that you see about children throughout the Scripture. They are a gracious gift from the Lord.

You remember the story of Ruth and Boaz. In chapter 4 of Ruth, on their wedding day, Ruth having been widowed but now God brings a husband, Boaz, into her life, and on their wedding day, the witnesses give a blessing to Boaz. They say, “May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house [that is Ruth], like Rachel and Leah [those were the two wives of Jacob], who together built up the house of Israel” (verse 11). 

Their prayer is that Ruth will be fruitful, that she will be fruitful, that she will have numerous offspring, and there’s a recognition that it’s God who opens the womb. “May the Lord make your wife fruitful.” It’s God who opens and closes the womb.

The mention there of Rachel, who herself was barren until God did open her womb, as Ruth had been barren in Moab. The prayer, the blessing, is that, “May God now give your wife children.” Of course, we’re so thankful that God did give children to Ruth and Boaz because through that line came Christ our Messiah.

They go on to say in this blessing, “And may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman” (Ruth 4:12). “The offspring that the Lord will give you.” That’s another acknowledgement that children are a gift from God. There’s no question where these children come from. They are a gift from God.

Now this house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, that’s a reference you probably haven’t thought a lot about, may not have researched carefully. It’s a fascinating passage, and it brings up a whole series of family circumstances that rival any modern-day soap opera.

Judah, who was one of the 12 sons of Jacob, had married a Canaanite woman. They had three sons. God took the lives of the two older sons because they were wicked, and after Judah’s Canaanite wife died, he was intimate with a woman who was disguised as a prostitute who turned out to be the widow of his firstborn son. Her name was Tamar.

Now, you probably didn’t get all that, but you probably did get that it was a really convoluted, messed-up story. Judah and Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law, who he thinks is a prostitute, gave birth to twins sons, the eldest of whom was named Perez.

You say, “What a mess was that!” That’s a family background that by any definition would be called dysfunctional. But God is a redeeming God, and He is able to bring good out of the tangled messes of our lives.

Perez, you don’t hear anybody naming their kids Perez these days, but he was an important character. He was an ancestor of Boaz, and through the line from Perez to Boaz, married to Ruth, would come Israel’s two greatest kings: King David and the ultimate King, King Jesus.

Now take that home for just a moment. One or more of your children may be the result of sinful or foolish choices—yours or others—choices that were within your control or choices that weren’t. You may have a seriously messed-up family tree, and you might have fearful thoughts about bringing more children into that family line. But just a reminder that God is the Redeeming God. He redeemed this family line. Christ came to us through this line of Perez, and Christ can redeem your family line.

So the blessing here is: “May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman" (Ruth 4:12). 

Yes, there’s a mess in the background here, but may it be like a family line that God redeems and restores and brings something really beautiful out of it.

So we see throughout Scripture that children are a blessing from the Lord and that childbearing is for women both a privilege and a responsibility within the will of God.

Now, let me take you for just a moment. I’m going where angels fear to tread by doing this, but I’m going to take you to what one commentator has called, “One of the most difficult verses in the New Testament to interpret.” I’m not going to interpret it. I just want to get us to look at this first just for a moment.

First Timothy chapter 2, many of you are familiar with this passage. The context here is talking about men and women and differences between men and women in the context of the local church. I’m not going to take time to give you all the context for this passage. I’m not even going to take time to exegete the passage or really walk you through it, but I wanted you to see one point that I think it makes pretty clearly.

First Timothy 2, beginning with verse 13,

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (verses 13-14). 

Now, here’s the first thing I want you to look at: verse 15. It’s one of the hardest verses in the New Testament to interpret. “Women will be preserved through the bearing of children.” Your translation may say, “They will be saved through childbearing” (NASB). “Women will be preserved through the bearing of children,” or “saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (NASB). 

Now, let me make it clear what this verse is not saying. It for sure is not saying that our souls will be eternally saved or justified through childbearing. That would contradict all the rest of Scripture that says we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. So the word saved must mean something different here, and it does mean something different. A better translation, it’s the word preserved. They will be preserved through the bearing of children.

That word preserved can mean "to rescue, to deliver, to preserve safe and unharmed." So what does Paul mean here that “women will be preserved through the bearing of children”? In what sense could we say that women are saved or preserved through childbearing? Well, again, we could spend eons on this verse, and I have actually talked about this verse in other series, but just think here about how the first woman Eve influenced and led her husband, and therefore the rest of the human race, into sin.

That’s a pretty heavy responsibility for Eve to bear and for us as women to bear, but through the bearing of children and raising those children up to know and follow Christ, God has graciously given to women the privilege of influencing generations for righteousness. As Eve’s sin influenced many, many generations toward unrighteousness, so as women give birth to and nurture children, they can be part of passing that legacy of righteousness on to subsequent generations.

So as a woman embraces and fulfills God’s calling in her life as a wife and mother, when it’s that season:

  • She is preserved from the stigma of the fall.
  • She is preserved from uselessness.
  • She is preserved from insignificance.

Now, Paul is not saying that all women can or should be married or have children. That’s clearly not true. For some women, God does not bring husbands into their lives. And some women who do marry, there’s some sitting in this room perhaps who have struggled with infertility. For some, God does not open their womb, for reasons that only He knows. That doesn’t mean that God is withholding blessing or judging. There’s a lot more we could say about this, but Paul is certainly not saying that all women should be married and have children.

I do think he’s stating a general principle that is emphasizing the significance of our calling as women to be bearers and nurturers of life, whether physical and/or spiritual children. It is such a joy to receive emails and letters and receive comments on our True Woman and Revive Our Hearts blogs from women who are really embracing this calling to be bearers and nurturers of life, and who are finding that children really are a blessing when they see them from God’s point of view.

We had, not too long ago, on the True Woman blog a video clip of a woman named Kari who came to one of our True Woman conferences and one of our videographers caught her. She gave this really precious testimony about how God had given her a new heart for her seven children, how she had been resentful—felt that they had just kind of stolen her life and kept her from being able to do things she’d wanted to do—and how God had just given her a new perspective and that she was coming to see that these children really are a blessing from the Lord.

We posted that little couple-minute clip on the True Woman blog and then lots of other women started chiming in—women who have children, women who don’t have children, women in different seasons of life—responding to this comment that Kari had made. Let me read just two or three of those comments that came in. One woman said:

God has given us six blessings and counting. I resented God and my husband for several years. I resented the loss of my desires and plans. I resented not being able to pick up and go to Target whenever I wanted. It’s been a journey to agree with God that every child is a reward and a life to cherish. Many of our friends are not able to conceive. How can I compare a child with the freedom to go to a store? It’s amazing how ultra-feminist, anti-biblical philosophies have subtly influenced my thinking and our culture.

Another woman said:

I only have four children, but I went through the same thing: focusing on what having all these young children has deprived me of rather than on the gift that they really are. My oldest is twelve; my youngest is four, and I am finally loving being a mom. I’m just sad it took me so long.

Then another woman chimed in. I’m glad she did because it reflects women who are listening to me today. She said:

I’m on the other end of the spectrum—almost forty, not married, and truly desirous to have children. Shortly after becoming a Christian at the age of 17, and after understanding the significant and wonderful calling of being a wife and mother, I looked forward to one day marrying and having a big family. I wanted six children of my own, especially since I’m an only child. It hasn’t happened, and some days I get very discouraged, but I know that God’s will for me is always good, and He brings me into contact with children in so many precious ways.

Now that brings to mind many comments. First of all, no blogging and interfacing with women on this subject can take away the pain a woman feels who has that unfulfilled longing for children, and there’s some in this room that would be true of, and writing about it doesn’t make the unfulfilled longing go away. Surrendering it to the Lord doesn’t make the unfulfilled longing go away.

We will all have unfulfilled longings this side of eternity, and as Amy Carmichael reminded us, "Unfulfilled longings are really material for sacrifice, something we can offer up to the Lord."

What strikes me is that both, the women who have the children and the woman who does not have the children, both have contentment issues to deal with. The women who don’t have the husband or children think, “If I could just have a husband and children, I would be fulfilled.” Then you have these women who have six or seven children, and they’re saying, “I wish I could go to Target.”

So really, discontentment is a function of the human heart. Some of you, your hands are full of little children right now, and you think, “Will I ever have a chance to go to the bathroom by myself without a little kid?” It’s very consuming. Some of you are in that 24/7 care with lots of little ones.

Some of you in this room are empty nesters, and you are wishing you could hear those pattering of feet and the hands coming under the bathroom door saying, “Mommy!” You’d give anything for that.

Some of you have lost a child, and you’d love to have some of the troubles again of the blessing of children.

Contentment comes from saying, “Lord, I receive whatever You choose for me as a gift from You. If that gift is children, I will welcome them as a blessing. I will receive them from Your hand.”

Then contentment as a woman comes from acknowledging that God has uniquely designed us to be bearers and nurturers of life. That can be done in a lot of different ways, and we’ll look at some of those ways in the next program. But God called us to be bearers and nurturers of life, and to just say, “Thank You, Lord, for making me a woman. Thank You for that calling. Thank You for that privilege. Amen.”

Leslie: The Bible describes children as a blessing. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been exploring all that this means.

Janet Parshall is a mom who has seen firsthand that children are a blessing from the Lord. She writes about this blessing in the new book, Voices of the True Woman Movement. Her chapter is called “A Woman after God’s Own Heart.” It describes the pain that comes from wanting children and not having any, and it describes some of the pain that comes after having children. Through these pages you’ll see why children are a blessing even through the pain.

This is only one of many helpful chapters by a variety of godly women and one man in the book, Voices of the True Woman Movement. We’ll send this book as a way of saying, “Thanks,” when you send Revive Our Hearts a donation of any amount. Donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959. Nancy?

Nancy: Today’s message on embracing children as a blessing makes me think of a comment that one woman wrote after attending the True Woman Conference in Chattanooga. She told us, “I’d only been home several hours and my son told me already I’m a better mom.”

Sadly, a lot of women who believe that children are a blessing don’t always act like it day after day. That’s why the True Woman conference is so helpful. It gives you time to get away, reflect on your life, learn from powerful speakers, and get encouragement from other women, then come back home different.

Please consider joining us for the True Woman conference in September in Indianapolis or in October in Ft. Worth, and remember that if you get a group of women to go with you, you can get considerable savings on each registration.

To get the information about all of that, just call us on the True Woman phone number at 1-877-966-2608, or log onto our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can get the information there.

Leslie: You don’t have to have biological children in order to value and appreciate motherhood. Nancy explains why tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 Stacey Wiebe. "Born to Nurture." www.WomenTodayMagazine.com

 

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