Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah and 60 when his twins were born. So for 20 years, Rebekah was barren. Twenty long years of waiting. But that waiting was not without action. What did Isaac do? What was his work during those 20 years besides taking care of his flocks and herds? Prayer. Prayer that sprang from his faith. Remember when the people asked Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So Isaac prayed. And believed. And waited.
Some in today’s world might say, “What was the big deal that Isaac and Rebekah couldn’t have children? We have too many people in the world, anyway!” Or some say, “The world is dark and evil; why would I want to bring children into it?” I answer with the Psalms: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” And I answer with Jesus, “You are the light of the world.” Think about it, followers of Christ. If the world is a dark place, don’t we need to bring more light into it? That’s what children born into a home where they will be taught of the Lord can become: light in a dark place. Having children, if you are able, is an act of faith in a mighty God, and I would even say an act of obedience to a God who gives good gifts.
Isaac’s work of God was to believe, and because he believed, he prayed with and for his wife. How many times in Genesis 25 did Isaac ask in faith that God would let his wife Rebekah conceive? We are not told. But maybe he had heard from his father about the time when God told him to pray for the women in Abimilech’s house who had been made barren by the Lord. God heard Abraham’s prayer and the women in Abimilech’s house bore children. Abraham may have said to Isaac, “Son, I didn’t pray for your mom then. She was barren, and I should have prayed that God would heal her long before she was 91 and had you.” We don’t know how this happened, but Isaac knew that his only hope for children was the Lord. So he prayed with and for his wife. And if that prayer started when they got married, and he prayed every day, then he asked God more than 7,000 times to bless his wife with a child. The verb that is translated “prayed” in that passage is used by Moses multiple times in Exodus and is usually translated “plead.” Moses told the Pharaoh more than once that he would go and plead with the Lord to remove the plagues. There’s an emotional component here as well, as Isaac is pleading with God on behalf of Rebekah.
One of the most important works of being a husband is to pray, in faith, with and for your wife. And not to give up. Keep knocking on the door, keep asking, keep seeking. Isaac did that. Can you imagine the joy of this couple when “God granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived”? God did the same for the mothers of Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, and Samuel, among others. Four famous and very important men of God whose mothers were barren before God healed them. Where would the people of faith be without those men, and their fathers and mothers who prayed for their existence?
Let’s acknowledge and believe and teach others that EVERY child, every single one, is a gift from God.