Rev. Sonja Dawson Executive Minister New Mount Calvary Baptist Church
“The Blessing of Barrenness
By Rev. Sonja Dawson, Executive Minister
New Mount Calvary Baptist Church
And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai…30But Sarai was barren; she had no child. Genesis 11:29-30
Isn’t it interesting that the first mention in the Bible of Sarai, the wife of Abraham whose name was later changed to Sarah, points to the fact that she was barren. The writer could have focused on the meaning of her name, “my princess or my lady,” or the fact that she was a beautiful woman, which was well known and highly regarded.
However, he doesn’t focus on these positive attributes, but immediately directs our attention to her physical limitation, a description that is used repeatedly to identify her and consequently to shape her very existence.
Barrenness is defined as sterility in a woman or the inability to have children. In that day, barrenness was more than a mere physical condition, but something that brought great public reproach and great shame. Such was the case with Sarah, who although blessed with a husband who truly loved her, and married her with full knowledge of her sterility, was burdened throughout her life with the fact that she could not give him a child. She was unaware and actually laughed at the notion, that God would ultimately grant her a miracle removing her barren condition and bringing glory to Him. (Genesis 18:12).
Like Sarah, I often wonder how many times we have been reluctant to believe that God could use the barrenness in our lives to bring glory to Him. Barrenness demonstrates itself in many forms: lack of financial prosperity, lack of children or grandchildren, lack of or loss of spouses, or any type of unfulfilled desire.
In all of these areas, we often question whether God can use our emptiness despite our public reproach? The answer is “Yes!” Hebrews 11:11 reads “Through faith, also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” The key was that Sarah relied on God’s strength, and not her own.
Does God always remove our barrenness? No, not always, just ask the Apostle Paul, who lamented over a deficiency he characterized as a “thorn in his flesh”. Through this experience the Lord spoke to him, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:6-10)
Ask the family of Brendan Foster, a young boy whose dying wish was to feed the hungry and although he was too sick to do it himself, his family and community mobilized to make his dream a reality. In June 2009, Union Rescue Mission named its cafeteria in Brendan Foster’s honor and his family’s loss has now become an opportunity for help for others.
It is through our barrenness that we receive the power of God to serve Him. It is through our barrenness that we receive the grace of God to live for Him, and it is through our barrenness that others see that our God is awesome, mighty, and able to fill every void.