Those of us who have grown up in or been around church have probably all been asked at some point in our lives, “What’s your favorite Bible verse?” It’s a popular question, and my answer has changed many times over the years depending on what I was dealing with or learning at the time.
Though I would be happy to tell you which verse is my current favorite and why, this isn’t the topic weighing on my mind and heart today. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite.
I’ve never been asked what my least favorite verse in the Bible would be because there shouldn’t be anything we wouldn’t like, right? But I have one.
It’s not something that has ever really come up in conversation with a friend or loved one, but I’m going to be totally honest with you. There is a verse in the Bible I struggle with, one that I just don’t care for…one that I have even rolled my eyes and huffed at. It’s found in Psalm 127:3.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
I understand this verse can make newly expectant parents overflow with joy and can encourage tired parents in the throes of toddler or teenage years. I totally get that…but from where I’m sitting, sometimes I just don’t like it. *Please note that I am not condoning this attitude or response. I’m just trying to be honest.*
I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that it is attached to practically every pregnancy announcement for the above-mentioned reason…and pregnancy announcements are just hard. I’ve seen or heard 5 or 6 in the last few weeks, and there is a sting that accompanies each one.
This month marks 9 years since I saw my first negative pregnancy test. We had been married almost 3 months and I was having all kinds of symptoms that could be attributed to pregnancy…and I was so hopeful and excited. I know 3 months of marriage isn’t long, but we knew we may have difficulty having children, so we were ready. When you’re looking for two lines, I can’t explain the hurt that only one little line can bring. That was the first negative of too many to count.
After all these years, thankfully things are much better, but announcements still sting and I still have a hard time with this verse.
I think another reason I struggle with it is the use of the word “reward.” We attribute that to being something we have earned. We do something good, we get rewarded. We do something bad, we get punished. A logical train of thought tells us that if the fruit of the womb is a reward, then the lack therof must be a punishment.
I’m not going to lie. I have sat in church services and cried and cried as a preacher said that their families have been experiencing the approval and favor of God because He was giving them children. I’ve sat next to my husband and heard them say that God shows His approval of a couple’s marriage when He gives them children and His disapproval when He withholds them.
I guess since we haven’t had children and received this reward, we must have somehow angered God so He is punishing us by showing us His disfavor, right?
I understand that there are instances in Scripture where this can be seen, but it isn’t universal. Were Elisabeth and Zacharias being punished for sin or wickedness because they couldn’t have children? (Luke 1) What about the Shunamite woman and her husband who made a home for and loved the man of God? (2 Kings 4) What about Hannah? (1 Samuel 1) Was God expressing His disapproval of their marriages? Of course not.
On the other side of that coin, is God expressing approval of every couple to whom He gives children? Of course not! Just look at the world around us and it’s clear this is faulty logic.
There are many things I may question, but whether or not it was right for my husband and I to get married is not one of them. God made it very clear to me that this was the man He had made for me. …So why can’t we have children? What did we do wrong?
Maybe you’re struggling with some of these same things. Maybe you’re wrestling over different particulars but are still wondering what you’ve done to deserve punishment from the Lord. Let me remind you of some of my current favorite verses in the Bible:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
It’s easy for me to have a pity party and get bogged down in my own hurt and my sometimes blatant misunderstanding of God’s plan for my life and forget that He doesn’t think like I do. He doesn’t follow our logical train of thought. God doesn’t equate goodness with reward and evil with punishment the way we do. Our ways are very finite and fickle. That isn’t the way God does things. I may not understand, but that doesn’t make Him any less good or right.
We’re told in James that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. There is a distinction made between “good” and “perfect.” The word good encompasses the things we can look at and say are good and pleasant, things that add to our enjoyment of life. The word perfect is quite different. This includes things we would not want or choose for ourselves, but they are things we need nonetheless…things that may cause us pain but will be beneficial to us in the long run.
God has given me many good gifts in my life that I can easily be thankful for…but I should be equally grateful for those perfect gifts, like childlessness. It isn’t a punishment. It’s a perfect gift from the hand and heart of my Father.
The next time you find yourself struggling with lies from the enemy or even certain truths in the Bible, remember this: God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours, and no matter how the package may be wrapped, His gifts are always perfect. We can be grateful for them and trust Him to one day make every bitter thing sweet.❤️