In his novel Harvard Yard, William Martin describes a prosperous 17th century Puritan who faces one of life’s greatest poverties: childlessness.

“John needed only to look out his window to see the Lord's bounty upon him. He could gaze across his vegetable garden and down to the Great Cove, to his ships – half a dozen by his wife's inheritance, half a dozen by his own intelligence. . . . But his piety and faith had not been great enough, because the richest of the Lord’s blessings – a house filled with happy noise – had not come to John Wedge. . . . He heard no childish bickering, no mothering voice rising to calm a dispute, and for those, he would have surrendered everything else.” 

Those words arrested me: ". . . and for those, he would have surrendered everything else."

A tremendous blessing

What Martin realizes through the character of John Wedge is that a home filled with children is a tremendous blessing. They are flesh-covered miracles of God’s gracious favour. Though parenting often seems like never-ending work, parents are, in reality, living the dream.

In the midst of the grind, we can forget the pain and longing of the barren couple that opens up for us entirely new horizons of insight and thanksgiving. When we lose so much sleep, and become blind to children as blessings, we see them as only burdens.

Adjusting our perspective

Where we see dirty diapers, a barren couple would see a living, breathing child, for whom they have the privilege to care.

Where our culture views parents who choose to stay home as "oppressed," a barren couple would see a home filled with their precious child’s presence and the opportunity to cherish it together.

Where we see financial obligation, a barren couple would see something finally worth spending their money on.

When we dread all those car trips back and forth to school, church and other activities, don’t forget: a barren woman would gladly drive 24 hours straight if only she had a child to transport.

May we never lose sight of our true callings as parents: to nurture, to love and to raise with discernment this child who, like you, was made in the image of God Himself.

Gary Thomas is the founder and director of the Center for Evangelical Spirituality, a writing and speaking ministry that integrates Scripture, church history and the Christian classics. He is the author of many books, including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Cherish, The Sacred Search and A Lifelong Love.

© 2008 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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