Don't Be a Peninnah

Adam Navis

READ : Samuel 1:1-20 And her rival used to provoke her. (v. 6) Discussions about abortion, teenage pregnancy, miscarriage, embryonic stem-cell research, or undergoing fertility treatments can be touchy. Such issues touch on strong religious convictions about the purpose and sanctity of life. Sometimes people express strong opinions without full understanding. I call such people “Peninnahs” because they provoke those who are already hurting. I remember a time when my wife and I had to abandon an attempt at in-vitro …

What We're Owed

Adam Navis

READ : Genesis 20:1-18 For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech. (v. 18) I would pray every day that God would allow us to get pregnant. Every month that passed gave extra weight to my prayers. Unlike Abraham, who lied to Abimelech, I trusted God. I did not lean on myself. Or did I? I am troubled by the idea of God opening or closing a womb. But I take the Bible seriously and …

A Place to Be Yourself

Adam Navis

READ : Romans 12:9-21 Seek to show hospitality. (v. 13) My wife and I knew that we might have trouble having children. The extent of the problems would not be known until we actually tried. In 2006 we were ready to start our family. Each month became a cycle of hope and disappointment. Days felt like weeks. The anticipation would push every other thought out of our minds. It was as if our desire for children could somehow influence the …

The Depths of Pain

Adam Navis

READ : Proverbs 30 The grave, the barren womb, land . . . and fire . . . never says “Enough.” (v. 16 NIV) The pain of infertility is hard to understand for those who have not experienced it. Surely sad, but no worse than the pain of men and women who wish to have children but don't because they never marry. Yet the Bible understands the depth of the pain of barrenness. Proverbs equates death, fire, a parched earth, …

God Brings Life

Adam Navis

READ : Isaiah 54 Sing, O barren one, who did not bear. (v. 1) There are many good metaphors to understand God's action in human history. Here are a few: Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. God calling people out of darkness and into light. Being freed from the bondage of sin by Christ's selfless love. Here's one more picture to add to our understanding: God's blessing to us is like a barren woman who suddenly finds herself pregnant. To be …

A Gift Held Lightly

Adam Navis

READ : Genesis 29:31–30:13 Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb? (v. 2) In the Old Testament, when God blesses people he blesses them with children. The story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel exemplifies this. The Lord opens Leah's womb (v. 31) and she gives birth. This is a sign that God has “looked upon my affliction” (v. 32) and “heard that I am hated” (v. 33). Then when Rachel …