Surprise! We're not in as much control as we'd like to believe!
|Many in this day and age are pretty gung-ho about pregnancy and the rights of women to bear or not to bear a child. What many tend to forget is that, despite all our efforts in family planning, we are not in control of our fertility.
We discover this little tidbit for the first time in Genesis 18:1-15, where Yahweh comes to Abraham and Sarah and tells them they will have a son. In verse 11 we're told that, ...it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Knowing this, Sarah, who is alone in her tent, laughs and says to herself, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
Yet, Yahweh tells Abraham (and Sarah overhears) in verse 14, “Is any thing to hard for Yahweh? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” We see this promise fulfilled in Genesis 21:1-2, when Yahweh “...visited Sarah as He had said, and Yahweh did unto Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bare Abraham a son in his old age...”
Now let's backtrack a little. Before Yahweh returns as promised and Sarah conceives, Abraham and Sarah take a little journey toward “the south country”. Here, beautiful old Sarah is taken by King Abimelech to be his wife. In punishment for this, we find in verse 18 that, “...Yahweh had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.” It's not until the king gives Sarah back to Abraham (along with a gift of sheep, oxen, menservants and womenservants) and Abraham prays to God, that Abimelech's household were able to conceive again. Again, we see that God has control over who conceives and who doesn't.
Later, we get into the drama between Leah and Rachel and how, when Yahweh saw that Leah was unloved (by Jacob), he opened her womb; but Rachel (who was the favorite wife) was barren (Genesis 29:31). At one point Rachel, envious of her sister's fertility, confronts her husband. She demands Jacob give her children “...or else I die.” Jacob becomes angry and snaps, “...Am I in the place of God, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1-2).
It could be argued that Rachel had health issues that prevented her from having children. We might speculate that perhaps she had Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and that is why she couldn't conceive. It could be she had one of these issues and God healed it some 7-10 years later. Or perhaps God was just trying to send a message. At any rate, God eventually “remembers” Rachel and her desire to have a child. “And God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son...” (Genesis 30:22-23)
These aren't the only times we read about God opening or shutting a womb. Genesis 25:21 shares Isaac praying on behalf of his barren wife, Rebekah. Yahweh then allows Rebekah to conceive. Then there's 1 Samuel 1:5-6 where we are introduced Hannah. We quickly learn that Yahweh had “shut up her womb” only to later, after much prayer, open it for her.
Time and time again we see God's hand on women's wombs. We may argue for reproductive freedom and demand the right to prevent or create life but in the end, we have zero control. In the end we will find that there is only One who decides who will “be brought to life” (Deuteronomy 32:39) and that is Yahweh, the Creator of all.