Children are wonderful gifts from God, but he does not give everyone such gifts.
Karla M. Jaeger
“Children are a heritage from the LORD; offspring are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).
“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. . . . May you live to see your children’s children” (Psalm 128:3,6).
These verses are a delightful picture of what my parents’ family was like, even after we grew up and left the nest, returning for vacations and holidays. Oh, what a joy to look up to God-fearing Mom and Dad, to know that they eagerly looked forward to the birth of each of their eight living children and the one buried in the hills of South Asia!
Our home was a positive place for us all. “Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil” (Proverbs 15:16) is a good description of my recollections of family life. Not that we didn’t squabble, scrap, and sin just like everyone else! Oh my, no! But we always knew we had friends right among our siblings and loving parents who cared about our well-being in body, mind, and soul. We knew we were loved and forgiven by God. What fun, laughter, adventures, silliness, and serious situations we all shared with each other and still do!
A difficult reality
So, when I finally married at the age of almost 30, I took it for granted that my husband and I would have a large family as soon as the Lord knew it was right. But months and years passed, and the only pregnancies we had were ectopic and resulted in surgeries and the end of each tiny little life. This was devastating, inexplicable, unacceptable to me!
I longed to know the amazement of the awareness of a new life—a whole new little person—growing inside me, a part of both me and my husband, physical evidence of our oneness in God’s eyes! Oh, to hold that tiny body, feel its skin, smell its unique fragrance, look into eyes that looked at me and focused on my face, even as its little mouth sought sustenance from my very body!
How could God deny me this blessing? How could he withhold from me this gift, so often scorned and hated by women who aborted, abandoned, or abused the children God had given them? I wouldn’t harm a child! I would value and love and care for it, making sure it became God’s child through Baptism and instruction in his Word! Month after month I berated God, even as I took myself to task for my sin of discontent: “God has given you so many blessings, Karla! What makes you think you should have this one too?”
My husband, though equally dismayed and saddened by our troubles, was more trusting of God’s will and wisdom, reminding me that if God wanted us to have children he would give them to us. We contemplated medically-assisted pregnancy, but rejected it for reasons of cost and, more important, for the possibility that lives would be created outside of my body that would never be given the chance to grow and thrive. That clearly was something we could not agree to do.
Adoption, of course, was recommended by all, and eventually we began the process—only to move overseas when my husband accepted a call to a different ministry. That was the end of that!
Then the reality hit me. Eventually, even though I still, month by month, prayed for the nearly impossible, I was forced to accept that what I’d longed for was not to be. Instead of mother and father of a large family, grandparents of even more, it was to be just the two of us.
For many years, the usual talk of pregnancies—sometimes complaints that they came too close together, delivery woes, sleepless nights, the struggle to lose “baby fat,” whether to nurse or not, and on and on and on—was so hard to listen to. And the patronizing response when asked how many children I had and I said none: “Oh, there’s still time!” when I knew there wasn’t—how that galled me! How I struggled!
God’s perfect plan
But ours is a gracious, loving God! Little did I know—little did I trust—that he had a plan for our lives, a perfect plan: “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). His plan brought us countless unimagined adventures, people from many walks of life and many cultures, untold opportunities to build up believers with his Word and to open the eyes of the spiritually blind with the good news of Jesus. And, yes, it even brought scores of children to us, some right into our home in their time of need.
No, it’s not the same to minister to children or to provide a temporary home for some as it is to bring your own offspring into the world, but our experiences were a challenge and a blessing that I would not give back for anything! To think that we were able to share and exemplify, even if imperfectly, the undeserved love of God to young ones who were lost or spiritually at risk and to share Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life—this truly is something I treasure. We do not have the children and grandchildren that most of our family and friends do, but we do have the joy of knowing that God used and is using us to share his love with children who might not otherwise have learned of it. We now even see the fruits of God’s work through us in the lives of children who are now grown and entering into the ministry to pass on the good news to others!
Yes, children are a blessing from the Lord! But he does not promise to give each of us all of his blessings. That would be a bit greedy, wouldn’t it? Instead of focusing on what we do not have, we do well to follow Paul’s advice from the Holy Spirit: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Note that it is “in the Lord” that we find true joy, not in the things of this world, not even in our own children. Trust the Lord and his plan for your life. Rejoice in his perfect will and live each day to his glory, content in the knowledge that he is in control of your life both in this world and for eternity.
Karla Jaeger is a member at Christ, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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Author: Karla M. Jaeger
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016
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