Read the introduction here, as well as part 1 and part two.
Most of the comments we get from strangers about our large family are either positive or simply reflect their confusion. We get a lot of, “You just don’t see families this big anymore.” Or “I can tell they are homeschooled too, right?”
But one really nasty comment sticks out in my mind. I have long forgiven the person who said it, but I bring it up here because of the fear that tacky comments like this invoke: “You’re just like a rabbit.” And no, it wasn’t said in jest.
It sticks out in my mind because when it was said to me, it touched a nerve. At the time I was weeks away from delivering my sixth child and had reached my tipping point child at number 5. (You know, the child that brings you to the large family point-of-no-return, makes you realize how little control you have and how dependent you are on God to mother so many children.) The rabbit comment scared me to death because…
What if it was true???
What if God gave me 20 children?
I was 33 at the time and about to have my 6th child, the third one in the last four years that we hadn't used birth control. What if all my children kept coming this quickly?
We assume that if we give up our family size to the Lord’s control, then pop! Out comes a baby every year. Yet what we see in scripture is very different. We don't know of anyone who used birth control in the Bible except for Onan and yet we see:
Sarah: one child
Rachael: two children
Rebekah: two children
Zebedee’s wife: two sons (she could have had more but most Bible teachers think she did not)
Noah: three children
And the list goes on...
Bible genealogies reveal that big families were the exception, not the rule. God opens and closes the womb. He must open it by His divine will before a child will result. Our simply deciding that He will be in control of our reproduction, does not mean He will give us twenty children. We presume on God's grace when we assume He will give us a child every year or two.
I have several friends who, like me, believe the Lord's Word to be true when He says that children are a blessing. Here are some varied and diverse experiences in how He opened and closed the womb in their situations:
- Friend #1: Hasn’t used birth control in 4 years, the Lord has blessed her with three babies, all three were lost to miscarriage.
- Friend #2: Hasn’t used birth control in 20 years. Has had three birth children, all several years apart.
- Friend #3: Hasn’t used birth control in 8 years. Has had 6 children.
- Friend #5: Hasn’t used birth control in 12 years. Has delivered three children, lost two to miscarriage.
- Friend #6: Hasn’t used birth control in 8 years. Has delivered 5 children, lost one to miscarriage and suffered the loss of one stillbirth.
- Friend #7: Has not used birth control in 15 years. Has delivered 5 children, lost 4 to miscarriage.
- Friend #8: Has not used birth control in 18 years, has delivered 9 children , lost two to miscarriage.
Attempting to maintain some control, we try to wrap our minds around all the potential scenarios and prepare ourselves for them. But the Lord has a unique plan for each of us that may include circumstances we would never dream up.
But what if you really are one of the rare couples that pop out a baby every year? Or what if you conceive twins once...or twice?
What If, What If, What If...
Giving birth to eight or ten children takes a lot of years. The Lord usually gives them to us one at a time--and it's a long process! Sometimes it takes so long that the oldest children grow up and leave before the youngest children are born. Throughout the years the children are growing in grace and so are the parents.
But what if you are in the trenches with a bunch of little ones and the Lord gives you another baby you're certain you won't be able to "handle"? Even just nine months can bring tremendous growth in maturity in some young children. Homelife is constantly changing because current children are always maturing and what looks like a desperate or scary situation at the discovery of a new pregnancy, may look completely different just a few months later.
Also, God doesn't give us the grace to raise 20 children while we only have one or two. He provides when we need it, not before. I'll give you a true confession here: Right now, at this very moment, I don't know how I would manage another child. But then I recall how I felt the exact same way before God gave me number 5, 6, 7 and 8. Each and every time He has given the grace I needed to mother another child as well as provide our daily bread.
In addition to all this, should we really fear being like the Duggars? Goodness, Michelle Duggar is one of the most joyful, loving mothers I've ever been blessed to observe and she has encouraged millions by her faithful testimony. I don't know about you, but I have witnessed many sour, bitter, hopeless women with two children and yet Mrs. Duggar exemplifies grace, peace and trust in the sovereignty of God. Yet somehow, mothers like her are the ones we want to avoid emulating?
We shouldn't fear breeding like rabbits. There is one who should fear us multiplying like bunnies--the enemy. He definitely should fear us breeding rapidly and for many years. We are raising up an army that, by God's mercy and the glorious truth of the gospel, will carry Truth into the next generation.
Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.