Realizing we were expecting, I discovered new thoughts arising in me. I realized from a new perspective why the Psalmist says "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of children." I've always been taught that a blessed person has children. Only after realizing I may have a child of my own, I started to think of it in another way.
In no matter what world we live in, ancient or modern, we all acquire assets. And no matter if you are rich or poor, children become assets to a family. They help the family. The carry the family name. They become allies in the struggles of life. Blood is thicker than water, the old saying goes--and we know why. Even if we don't 'click' with our family the way we do with friends, we still gather with family around the Christmas tree. Children are our gathering.
In fact, in context of Psalm 127, which I quoted earlier, the writer uses war-like language to talk about children (do we ever hear that part on Mother's day?). A 'quiver' is a keeper of arrows, which are instruments of death. And these 'arrows,' also known as children, are described like this:
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth.If you can't build an army with money, you birth an army through the womb. This is another way of gaining our 'riches' on earth, a security and a heritage. And the writer says this is part of our heritage from the LORD.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Considering the context in the ancient world, the more children you had as a nation, the more national security you build. National security was a blessing from the LORD. The Jews were fixated on child-bearing (which is why they went to Baal, the fertility god, time and again when they thought Jehovah wasn't enough).
Other thoughts came to mind as well. When driving through Los Angeles recently, I saw teenage mothers, a group of them, all holding their babies, going into an ice cream shop.
Now, aside from the whole foolish fad of 'baby-as-accessory' that a lot of teens consider, I thought about the contribution these young women offered. Even if we project on them a sad scenario--high school drop out, untrained in a specialty to serve in a community, emotionally dysfunctional, short-sighted--God still grants upon them the noble task of mothering.
It is the grace of God that allows even the most lowly and the most foolhardy (and this is all of us, to some degree) to contribute to human life in profound ways. He lets fertility rain on the just and on the unjust.
Thoughout our discussions over the last couple of years about having children, Jonalyn and I read and heard countless reasons why we SHOULD have children, why it isn't a choice, why it is almost a demanded 'blessing' from the LORD. Never did we hear, until recently, that in the last days there will be woe upon those who have children (Matt 24:19). Never did we hear that the blessing may be nuanced.
Little did we hear that each human may have to decide before God what his or her contribution may be. A person may decide to have children and that may be their blessing. Another may work with children as mentor and that may be their blessing. Another may dedicate themselves to service to point people to the kingdom of God, and that may be their blessing.
But it is difficult to think that among the barren and among those who have a choice before them, that children are a 'requirement'--the default position--and that 'blessing' is a demand. Adam and Eve had that demand to fill the earth... but once the earth is filled, is the requirement as firm? And what about Paul's admonish that the single 'serve without distraction'? Can that same principle apply to couples who strive to work together without distraction? Or did marriage itself also require offspring? Is that part of the vows?
And we don't want to pretend that choices are merely a modern convention. 'Birth control' was available in the ancient world as well, when they studied their bodies and understood their rhythms.
It is true that suffering with pregnancy through miscarriage identifies me with many people, many who found nothing in common with me before. Yet this is also a blessing, a holy magnet to new community. And this is part of our heritage and our legacy, this suffering.
Children are a blessing from the LORD. What else would they be? Lets not forget where all our assets derive from! Let's not forget that our heritage is always from the LORD.
It would be disappointing if we say those who do not have children or choose not to have children are not blessed or outside the scope of Jehovah's work.