Barren

There are times when we feel like everything we do is for nothing. It is all falling apart right before our eyes. Everyone else seems to be blessed more than we are. Nothing seems to be going right.

Isaiah 53 is a prophetic chapter that clearly describes Jesus the suffering servant. Right in the middle of that chapter (v. 10), it says “he will see his offspring.” Jesus will see His children. Three verses later, Isaiah 54:1 says, “Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband" (NIV).

To be barren in biblical times was the essence of failure, to be a symbol of being cursed by God with no future. Children give us a tangible sense of seeing a future. We all want to believe that our lives have a purpose that will go on. When that is not happening, we feel barren.

If there is anybody who could have looked at His natural circumstances and felt barren, it was Jesus. Isaiah 53 prophecies about the time of His death, the very time when the disciples scattered and left Him to handle the cross by Himself. This Isaiah 53 passage lets us see that in the middle of His suffering, He saw “His children.”

Obviously, He was not seeing with natural eyes. Physically, He had no children. His disciples, who were His “replacement children” had scattered. In the natural, every bit of His suffering was in vain. That is what makes pain especially painful. A loss of hope. Jesus didn’t lose hope. He saw His “offspring.”

One of my favorite stories when I am down is the history of Christianity in China. When Mao took over, it is believed that he slaughtered as many as half a million believers. During those days, the families of those believers had to be overrun with grief. Surely, they struggled with the question, “Where is God in this?”

China had been the center of a major effort of Christian mission work for many years with little or no fruit. After Mao’s slaughter of Christians, it is believed that there were as few as 250,000 believers left alive. Twenty years later, reports began to leak out of a phenomenal underground church revival. Many put the number of believers as high as 50 million by 1970. If so, that would put the number of people saved at 100 times the number of those who had been killed for their faith.

Jesus saw His seed—His offspring. The barren woman will have more children than she who bares children. Sometimes, those who get what they want in the natural stop. They are done. There is no pressing on to fulfill their purpose in Christ. Sometimes those who are seemingly barren press on. They don’t let the suffering stop them. And the outcomes are 100 times what they might have been.

Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (NKJV). When those believers were dying in China, I believe that they paid the price for the coming revival. Their deaths were not in vain. Several times in the Bible when a key person is about to arrive, there is a period of barrenness that precedes the coming of that person. The pain of the barrenness increases the prayer over the situation, which increases the blessing in the end.

“Sing O barren woman … because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband!” Jesus looked on His seed and in verse 53:11 was “satisfied.” Jesus knew what His suffering would produce—children, very many children. And He was satisfied. When it looks hopeless in the natural, many times God is at work. He is using our prayers and our sacrifices to start a work that is beyond what we could ever imagine.

Can you see your seed? Don’t stop with what you can see in the natural. Jesus saw His children and was satisfied. Rejoice in what God is doing … even in the seemingly barren and hopeless times!

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