The inability to have children: misfortune or blessing?

In most of the cases presented in the Old Testament, as we have seen, it is a matter of fulfilling God’s plans regarding His people, despite the obstacles posed by the limitations of nature or the evil will of humans. Therefore, the evil represented by sterility is undoubtedly amplified and dramatized due to its consequences on the destiny of the Jewish people. The evil of sterility surpasses the level of the individual couple, threatening the future of an entire nation chosen by God. 

However, it is worth noting that in many of these cases, sterility is not portrayed as a negative fact but only in the initial phase. It constitutes a temporary state that needs to be overcome, with God demonstrating His omnipotence through it, revealing Himself as the One who can conquer the weakness and limitations of nature. For often, just as illness is meant to be miraculously healed, sterility seems to have no other purpose than to manifest the Grace of God, who can abolish it as if He allowed it for this very purpose, as seen, for example, in the story of Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, where it is mentioned twice that God made her barren (1 Kings 1:5-6). Furthermore, Hannah herself praises God for His omnipotence and mercy, through which “the barren woman gives birth to seven” (1 Kings 2:5). 

We can also observe that many of those born from initially barren women were destined for a special purpose, entrusted to them by God. Thus, sterility appears as a prelude and even as a condition for a higher fertility of a spiritual nature. Spiritual fertility is manifested in the personality and deeds of the child born in this manner, as well as in the lives of their parents, who are sanctified through the reception of this exceptional grace. The very anticipation of this grace (the birth of children), through the virtues it activates (especially faith, hope, patience, and love for God), becomes a path of sanctification. 

Excerpt from The Ethics of the Procreation in the Teachings of the Holy Fathers by Jean-Claude Larchet, published by Sophia Publishing. 

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