We are obsessed with purpose these days. We seek purpose in everything we do to give our very lives meaning. It comforts us, even puffs us up.
We even seek purpose in the things that happen to us. Take barrenness. If we can determine some reason as to why God is making us barren, then our suffering suddenly has a meaning, an objective, maybe even merit. If there is a purpose to our barrenness, then we are somehow elevated from miserable victim to blessed martyr. We suddenly have a life worthy of the interest of Oprah, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren, and the prominence of this self-ascribed, higher purpose makes our wretched barrenness not sting so much.
But barrenness should sting. It is a result of Sin in the world, a devolution of the way God created things to be, and no amount of purpose changes that terrible truth.
The danger in trying to assign a particular purpose to our barrenness is that we are actually attempting to define the hidden will of God. We are trying to explain something that has not been explained to us in Holy Writ. We are trying to reveal that which has not been clearly revealed, and we should be wary of putting our hope, trust, and comfort in something that God has not made known to us in His Word. For, most likely, that self-assigned purpose will fail us in the face of the devil, Sin, and our flesh.
This is why it pains me so much when other people try assigning purpose to my own barren state:
“God made you barren so that you could write a book to help other people.”
“God made you barren so that you can be a better mother to all of the youth in your church.”
“God made you barren so that you will have more compassion for orphans and embryos.”
“God made you barren so that you will better appreciate having children when He gives them to you.”
Is any of this true? I certainly don’t know, because God has not revealed any of this to me in His Word, and, I suspect, neither has He revealed it to you.
Then, what true purpose is there in my barrenness? Outside of knowing that my womb is unfruitful because of Sin in the world and that God is allowing my womb to stay unfruitful, I don’t know from God’s Word why I am barren.
Here’s what I do know from God’s Word: Whatever purpose my barrenness serves, God is working it for the good of me and my neighbor; and, because God’s good grace is sufficient for me, I am free to serve the neighbors He has given me in abundance. Yes, that even includes the youth in my church, orphans, embryos, and you.
But, dear church, that is my vocation, not my purpose. Let’s not confuse the two.