For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Galatians 4:27 (NIV).
Per my Concordia: “Paul applies Isaiah’s joyful promise to exiled Jerusalem (in her exile “barren” of children) to the ingathering of believers through the gospel, by which “Jerusalem’s” children have become many.” There. Easy to understand. Whatever.
In Paul’s time (and still in many places during ours), inability to conceive a child is a social stigma. Pop culture says that having kids is a choice. But the inability to have them is a terrible, extremely painful burden for people anywhere. Just before this verse, Paul recounts Hagar and Sarah, the mothers of two nations, one of which would carry God’s promise of a deliverer. Sarah had been barren for eight decades, and she wore the cultural disgrace of it during the days of her long life until God blessed her with a new, promise-kept life.
Strangely, all this came to mind yesterday, after my church confirmed four young women into membership. Our class of confirmands was all female, perhaps for the first time since the year one of my daughters was confirmed in our pastor’s first class at the church. Afterwards, when writing this post, it seemed fitting that Galatians 4:27 would appear as the verse for today. After all, these four young women are embarking on active membership in our church, having completed years of study in God’s word. They’re leaving barrenness behind, even if they aren’t fully aware of it.
Right now, only God knows if, in the years to come, any of them will have kids of their own to raise in faith. For now, they’re just great kids. Yesterday was a point where they confessed they believed in Jesus, in having His promise of eternal life; in joining something bigger than themselves while becoming young adults with individual thoughts, dreams, and beliefs. Their hearts are already not barren, already full of life. It’s a courageous thing for a teenager to stand and profess encouragement fellowship, and belief. Not everyone can bring themselves to do that. God already is using their words to give spiritual life to others, to grow faith in ways none of us can yet predict or know. But it’s happening all the same.
So, in this springtime, welcome to new believers everywhere, and congratulations to those taking the step into confessing faith in this Jesus, who gives life and keeps promises. It’s a big step in the journey from immaturity and barren unbelief into the life of adventure and fulfillment that He has in store for each of us.
For further reading: Isaiah 54:1, Galatians 4:28
Father, bless the new confirmands, and bless each person who will stand with You in faith.
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