To be married for many years without the fruit of the womb is an experience no one desires. Such can be so distressing and traumatic particularly in cultural settings where a couple is expected to start having children within the first year of marriage. And as the years of waiting increase, pressure from friends and family continues to mount.
For a minister of God, it can be very disturbing especially when he prays for others and they receive the blessing but he continues childless. The fierce battle that goes on in the mind of such can only be imagined.
A Twenty-Three Year Wait
That was the experience of Pastor Soji Oni, a Nigerian church leader who had to wait for twenty-three years to receive the Lord’s blessing of the fruit of the womb. As senior ministers in the Redeemed Christian Church of God – one of the largest churches in the country, the pastor and his wife were not only highly placed, but had ministered to countless people in similar situation with results.
During my five-year stay in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, where the clergyman served as Provincial Pastor, I had attended meetings where such testimonies where shared by a number of couples. Strangely, they remained barren.
In spite of the emotional challenges and (sometimes) embarrassment their childlessness brought, they remained faithful to God in life and ministry. They had dedicated their life to the service of the Lord, even before they tied the knot and weren’t going to be deterred by the trial.
While they waited for a turnaround, they kept on in their zeal and commitment to the Lord and His work. Anyone who didn’t come close enough would never know they had such a frustrating challenge.
The Big Surprise
Indeed, “The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).
Unknown to Pastor Soji and his wife, God had a big, pleasant surprise. When no one was suspecting, the woman who was almost 50, suddenly became pregnant. And when the news of her delivery filtered out, there was jubilation everywhere. She had given birth to a set of triplets! No one saw that coming! Considering her age, her doctors were scared at the beginning. Eventually, she had an elective surgery and the outcome was three cute baby girls.
Why God Delays
All of that made the testimony of the miracle more sensational, remarkable and praise-compelling. Wherever the news got to, God was glorified. There was no doubt it was His handiwork and He alone took all the glory.
Of a truth, this is one thing He desires to achieve whenever he allows a protracted delay in our lives. When the miracle happens, many hearts are turned to him and He gets unreserved praise – much more than it would have been if the delay wasn’t there. For instance, would we be able to compare the impact of the testimony of childbirth after two years of marriage with that of twenty-three years?
Remember Lazarus? Jesus would have spared the people much emotional trouble had he gone to heal his ailing friend. Alas, he tarried till he was dead and buried. However, in bringing Lazarus back to life, he drew many people to the Father and directed praise to him. That was the first time someone would be raised to life after four days in the grave! Besides, a testimony of resurrection is more compelling than the healing of a sick man.
The same can be said of the man who was born blind, about whom Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3).
Do Not Despair
Truly, the Lord sees and hears the cries of our hearts. But sometimes, He chooses to respond late. When answers to our prayers tarry, God may just be orchestrating a pleasant surprise that leaves no one in doubt of His great power. With persistent faith and importunity in prayer, we partner with Him to make it a reality.
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