Infertility in the Bible

Infertility in the Bible

Image by Brett Redgate

It may surprise you, but the Bible has a LOT to say on the topic of infertility. What began as a curious observation in my youth, has now morphed into a fascination at how deeply the Lord cares for women going through the struggle of infertility.

Today, I would like to share with you some stories and passages that come straight from the Bible. I hope that the things I share with you today bring life to your soul. If you are currently in this battle, please take heart in knowing that you are not alone.

Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22; 18:1-15; 21:1-6)

Sarah, the wife of Abraham, gave birth to Isaac when she was 91 years old. We aren’t given details about her hopes of having children, but we do know that she laughed at the idea when God first told her she would have a son. She was too old. It was too impossible. But God had other ideas. He would use her and Abraham to create the line for His chosen people.

Abimelech’s Wife and Female Servants (Genesis 20)

Sarah shows up in a second infertility story. You see, Abraham told a little white lie that made King Abimelech believe that Sarah was actually Abraham’s sister. Abimelech took her for himself, but God revealed the truth to him in a dream before anything happened. God’s punishment for Abimelech, should he sin with Sarah, would be to keep his household from producing children. The king handled the situation honorably by returning Sarah to her husband. Abraham then prayed on behalf of Abimelech and his household was able to be fruitful once more.

I am moved by how these two stories interweave. Ultimately, God was looking out for His people. He was going to produce heirs in a situation that was impossible while simultaneously preventing heirs for those who would get in the way of His plan. He always has a plan.

Rebekah (Genesis 25:19-26)

Abraham’s son, Isaac, through whom a multitude of generations were promised, also had a wife who was unable to bear children. After her husband prayed on her behalf, Rebekah was able to give birth to twin boys. God had made a promise and nothing was going to stand in His way.

Rachel (Genesis 29:31-30:22)

In this story, there are two sisters married to Jacob; he was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham. See the trend? Anyway, Leah was unloved so God showed her love by allowing her to have children. The sisters were rivals and constantly trying to outdo one another. They made poor choices. But in the end, God felt for Rachel and listened to her prayers so that she could have a son. His name was Joseph. This was the same Joseph who would one day rescue God’s people by providing for them during a famine.

Hebrew Midwives (Exodus 1:15-21)

The Israelites moved to Egypt and eventually became slaves. The King of Egypt was fearful of their numbers and strength, so he ordered the Hebrew midwives (whose names were Shiphrah and Puah) to kill all the baby boys and let the baby girls live. But the midwives feared God more than they feared man, and did not follow the king’s orders. The Bible says, “because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.”

It is not clear whether these women struggled with infertility, but we do know that they were blessed with children in an impossible situation. Sometimes, I believe God loves to reveal His power and love for us by moving in ways that we never thought possible.

Manoah’s Wife (Judges 13)

There came a time when the Israelites were being oppressed by the Philistines. God was ready to bring a leader to rescue His people, so he sent an angel to appear to the wife of a man named Manoah. Manoah’s wife had been infertile, but the angel promised her a son. This son would be set apart by the way he lived and by the things he would do. The couple believed the angel and made a sacrifice to the Lord. Manoah’s wife soon gave birth to a baby boy named Samson. Samson would be used by God to lead the Israelites and defeat thousands of Philistines with a supernatural strength.

Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2:21)

Most of us have heard Hannah’s story. She was desperate for a baby and would seek the Lord year after year, pleading for a son. She vowed that should God grant her request, she would give her son back to Him. God allowed Hannah to give birth to Samuel and she kept her promise by sending him to live with Eli the priest when he was still a small boy. Samuel would grow up to be a great man of God, and Hannah would go on to have 5 more children. Three boys and two girls.

The Woman from Shunem (2 Kings 4:8-37)

Elisha the prophet went to the town of Shunem and stayed with a wealthy couple. They took great care of him by feeding him and building a special room for him to stay whenever he was in the area. Elisha wanted to bless them for their kindness, and after discovering they were unable to have children, he promised them a son in a year’s time. His promise came true.

Elizabeth (Luke 1)

I love how God works in unexpected ways. In preparation for His Son to enter the world, God blessed Zechariah and Elizabeth with a miracle pregnancy. They were a righteous couple, yet had never been able to have children. God chose this couple to give birth to John – the man who would teach the people that salvation was coming through Jesus.

I encourage you to read these stories for yourself, as many of them have extra details that I could not possibly provide in one post. They are a beautiful representation of how God can work in the lives of His people. I pray they bring you hope and a comfort to know that God sees your pain and He is listening.

“He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 113:9; NLT)

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2 thoughts on “Infertility in the Bible

  1. Pat Freeman says:

    Amanda, I thank God that He has laid this topic on your heart because I know the many couples that struggle with this situation. As you well know, I was only able to have one child and had a difficult pregnancy. When I was told that I needed to think about having a hysterectomy at age 29 with a two year old little boy, I had a very difficult decision to make. I would have loved to have had a little girl or even another little boy, but was so thankful for my one miracle son God gave Ron and I. You see, had I waited another year or two, I would not have been able to have children at all. God’s timing is perfect and yes He always has a plan. We dedicated him to God to use for HIS GLORY and look how God has used him! God allowed me to experience all my maternal needs with this one child and I how could I know that God would allow me to have two precious little grandgirls that I can buy dresses and dolls for to my heart’s desire! Praise God!

    Brenda, my youngest sister, had to have a hysterectomy at age 25 and was unable to have children, but has always had a heart for children. They gravitate to her and Jeff and she was a second mom to Eric and loved him like her own. We both suffered from extreme cases of endometriosis and at the time we were diagnosed could hardly pronounce it much less know the damaging effects to a young woman of child-bearing age. At that time, this was a newly discovered disease.

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