Most Christ followers believe an automatic blessing awaits mothers- and fathers-to-be, no matter the circumstances under which their newborns are brought into the world. But the Bible does not say that the actions of expectant parents can displease God, yet the arrival of their newborn guarantees the Almighty’s blessing.
In fact, it teaches us the opposite – that God does not reward parents-to-be whose actions run contrary to His divine will.
So it was with Abraham and Sarah. God promised the couple they would be the father and mother of nations. But Sarah lost faith when she thought herself beyond child-bearing age and urged husband Abraham to use her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar as a surrogate womb.
So Hagar bore Abraham a son named Ishmael, who would become the progenitor of the Arab peoples. Fourteen years later an angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him God’s appointed time had come for him and Sarah to have a child of their own. And God fulfilled His promise with the birth of Isaac.
Ishmael resented his younger half-brother Isaac, as Sarah and Hagar mutually despised each other. Thus was Abraham forced to drive out Hagar and Ishmael from among his people.
Then there was David and Bathsheba, who brought forth a child out of adultery and the killing of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite. God was displeased with David, and though David pleaded with God to spare his newborn son’s life, the Lord struck down the child.
Were Abraham and Sarah blessed by Ishmael’s birth? Absolutely not. Because it was not God’s will. And while God forgave Abraham and Sarah their lack of faith, while He kept His promise that Abraham and Sarah would be the father and mother of nations, the descendants of Ishmael are to this day sworn enemies of Isaac’s descendants, the Jewish people.
Were David and Bathsheba blessed by their unnamed son’s birth? Hardly. For while God forgave the couple, while He anointed their son Solomon to succeed his father to the throne, God also decreed that the sword would never depart from David’s house.
And so it was that David’s rebellious son Absalom sought to overthrow his father and take his kingdom. When rebellious Absalom was killed, his father David wept bitterly.
That brings me back to the mother and father of four who are expecting the arrival of their fifth child next March. These young family members of mine think themselves blessed simply because they have a child on the way. But it just might be that God withholds his blessing because the couple has done things their way and not His way.
Indeed, I am reminded of a sermon by the pastor of megachurch in Northern California where my wife and I were once members. “God’s will,” the pastor said, “without God’s timing is not God’s will.”
The mother- and father-to-be have lived in poverty since they wed four and a half years ago, each bringing a four-year-old, out-of-wedlock child to the marriage. The husband currently has a $30,000-a-year job. His wife hasn’t worked in two years, and barely six months total during their four and a half years of marriage.
Yet, that didn’t stop them from having a third child three years ago and a fourth child just last year, both births of which were paid for not by the couple, but by welfare. And now they have a fifth child on the way who also will be a welfare baby.
I believe it was neither God’s will nor God’s timing for this mother- and father-to-be to bring three children into the world in addition to the two they already brought to their the marriage. And I don’t think God is going to reward this couple – to bless this couple – for the questionable choices they have made that condemn their children to poor life chances.
Does that mean the husband and wife’s four-going-on-five children should not have been brought into the world? Does it mean the children are cursed because of their parents’ bad choices? Does it mean the children will not rise about the situation into which they were born?
No, no and no.
Once conceived, no matter the circumstances, a pre-born child has a God-given right to life. And though born out of their parents’ unwise choices, God has mercy on the children. And, finally, though children be born in poverty, be raised on welfare, those of us who are Christ followers will be a blessing to the children because they did not choose their parents.