“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I [Jesus] have overcome the world.” John 16:33b
Just last night, we watched the movie Coat of Many Colors, depicting the childhood of Dolly Parton. Now, I am not a Dolly Parton fan, but I was moved and inspired by this film. The only thing I found disagreeable was the way little Dolly talked back to her parents, sometimes. (Another thing to be cautious about if you watch this with your family is a short scene near the end that includes brief kissing by the parents while in bed, with the wife in her nightgown, and the husband shirtless. I didn’t think it offensive, though.) However, on the whole, the message of the movie seemed to me to be right on.
As their family encounters trials of various sorts, the mother’s faith in Jesus is what helps to sustain them. Though economically poor, they are rich in love and in joy. However, at one point, even her faith is tested when she has a miscarriage, and they are forced to bury the little baby boy that they had been waiting so excitedly for. He would have been their ninth child. The mother’s father, in a moment of grief, exclaims that his daughter has been having baby after baby for years, and maybe her body just can’t take any more of this; what kind of husband would do that to his wife?
However, by the end of the movie, this same man is able to encourage the distraught husband by telling him (my paraphrase), “Life IS hard. But without God, it is impossible.” Even as he is concerned for the health and well-being of his daughter, he is able to acknowledge that trials are A PART of life, and that we shouldn’t run away from them, but must face them. He is able to accept his daughter’s husband, and accept that God’s plan may be for them to have more children, and that that’s okay; he knows that they will be able to get through whatever else comes their way with God’s help. Even though the husband realizes that perhaps his wife will have three or four more children (or more), he also knows that as husband and wife, it is vital for them to have an intimate physical relationship. He decides to accept the fact that “Life is hard,” and plunge ahead, placing his faith, too, in Christ.
I loved this film, and cried at various points throughout, especially because it reflects some of what my husband and I are going through, too. Not that we’ve ever lost a child; I know that others have, and I grieve for them, but I certainly hope that that never happens to us, though it might. At this point, we are experiencing what it is to be somewhat poor economically (by our rich, American standards), but abundant in love and in joy. Our faith in Jesus sustains us.
You know, a little while ago, a woman told me the story of a lady she once knew who had given birth to ten or eleven children. By the time she got that far, she found herself pregnant with twins, and as a result of the stress (and probably poor nutrition, too), she not only lost all her teeth, but also had a nervous breakdown, as well.
I was so sad to hear this. And yet, it didn’t change my mind about leaving conception in God’s hands. Life is hard. The Christian life is hard. As Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation”! But, because Jesus has overcome the world, we have hope. Life without Jesus is impossible, but life with Jesus, though hard, can have times of victory, leading eventually to the ultimate reward of heaven.
Nothing we go through in this life is without recompense in the life to come, if we are truly Jesus’ followers. No hardship, no pain, no suffering will be without it’s corresponding help, comfort, and healing from God’s hand. We must not try to escape life’s hardships, but must accept that they are part of life, and train our eyes on the One Who is capable of helping us bear them.
Another woman once told me that she didn’t think it necessary to have as many children, in a marriage, as God would allow if it creates hardship for the family. According to her, if God “offers us the rescue boat” of birth control (or natural family planning, which is just another form of birth control), we shouldn’t keep struggling in the turbulent waters, but accept the boat, and just get in. I strongly disagree. Birth control wasn’t given to us by God; it does NOT come from God, and is NEVER commanded by Him, and is NEVER suggested by Him as an option for us, in the Bible–so, who does it come from then? Hmmm.
Throughout the whole Bible, God constantly reaffirms that life is from Him. He gives conception, and He withholds conception. We think we’re in control, but this is only how it appears to us from our limited perspective as human beings. God loves children, and He loves babies, and He loves fetuses still in the womb, and He loves the prospect of creating new life not yet conceived. God calls children a blessing and a reward from Him (Psalm 127:3-5). God isn’t afraid of all the what-ifs, like we are. No, for every child He brings into the world, He has a plan, and He is fully capable is bringing it to pass.
One of these days, I plan to publish my research from the Bible about what it has to say about childbearing and family planning. For now, I want to bring you back to the book of Genesis, the book that sets the foundation for the rest of the Bible, and the rest of history.
In Genesis 1:28 we read,
Then God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
We sometimes call this the “Dominion Mandate.” And, as Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. points out in his article published on the Institute for Creation Research website, “God’s Dominion Mandate and the Nations Today,”
God’s primeval dominion mandate (Genesis 1:26-28) has never been withdrawn, and thus is still in effect. It was given originally to Adam and Eve, then confirmed and expanded to Noah (Genesis 9:6-7) after the great Flood.
It is, therefore, appropriate to raise the question as to how well the dominion mandate is being implemented by the present nations. A basic component in the mandate (Genesis 2:24) was the establishment of monogamous life-long marriage as the basis for producing the population needed to accomplish the other components of the mandate.
I completely agree. (Please read the rest of the article–it’s really good). Though Dr. Morris does not focus on the “be fruitful and multiply” component, but instead expands the “have dominion” part, I think his point regarding the modern validity of God’s first command applies perfectly to this discussion. All of God’s first command to the first couple, starting with “be fruitful and multiply” and including “subdue the earth and have dominion” is a cohesive unit. We must not think that we can separate the subduing part from the being fruitful part (having children). Part of having dominion IS having children. Our children, if raised properly, help us change the world (starting with our small sphere of influence), and continue our legacy after we are gone.
Have you ever thought it logical to “just hop in the rescue boat,” when the going gets tough in regards to governing ourselves? Have you ever thought it reasonable to just give up when it comes to politics and social justice, food production and animal control, because we experience drawbacks? Most people would press forward when facing trials in these areas, because they recognize the absolute importance of maintaining order, establishing safety for all citizens, and caring for their basic needs. The need to succeed drives us to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Farmers know that they can’t give up after dry spells and pests threaten to destroy their crops; no, they press forward. Politicians know they can’t give up after new laws they have proposed are rejected; no, they press forward. Police don’t give up chasing criminals after those same criminals shoot at them, and even injure them; no, their duty is to press forward.
So, why do WE give up so easily when it comes to having children?
We need to acknowledge, that yes, life IS hard. But only is it impossible if we don’t have Jesus. And we need to keep pressing onward.