Infertility and The Sovereignty of God Through the Bible

Psalm 139 displays God’s attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. It reminds us that God not only knows us in the most intimate way, but there is nowhere we can go that He’s not already there (Ps 139:1-12). It also reminds us that He is the creator of life, the writer of our days, and our story (Ps 139:13-16). Isaiah 46 testifies about the sovereignty of God, His power to accomplish all His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). Proverbs says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Pr 21:1). That is God’s attribute of omnipotence. Heath Lambert, in his book A Theology of Biblical Counseling says: “Omnipotence means that God is able to do anything consistent with His desires as God. […] Omnipotence would be reckless and horrifying without being informed by omniscience and omisapiece. [..] On the other hand, if God has knowledge and wisdom but lacks the power to do what He knows is best, His knowledge is worthless.”1 When we put these attributes together, we have a greater picture of who God is. We are reminded that God not only knows our situation, but also has the power to accomplish His will, and He is there with us through all things. That should be a great comfort for those dealing with infertility, and the Bible is not unfamiliar to it.

When we put these attributes together, we have a greater picture of who God is. We are reminded that God not only knows our situation, but also has the power to accomplish His will.

The first name that comes to my mind is Sarah. Genesis 15 shows God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (v.5). Time goes on and Sarah “had not borne him a child, but she had an Egyptian slave woman whose name was Hagar” (Gen 16:1). Sarah lacked trust in God, and offered Hagar to sleep with Abraham. Hagar became pregnant but that was not the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, and it ended up bringing them more problems than solutions. Later in Genesis 21 the Bible says that“the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised.”(v.1) God fulfilled His promise and Sara gave birth to Isaac. Abraham and Sarah‘s story reminds me that God is faithful to fulfill what He promises. He is not dependable on the circumstances, as Sarah was passed childbearing (Gen 18:11) and reluctant to believe she would be able to conceive in such an old age (Gen 18:12). It also reminds me that our time is not God’s time, for “one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet 3:8) (If you would like to read more about God’s timing, check out my article “Fighting the time of the clock”). And  lastly Sarah and Abraham’s story reminds me that as much as we think we can give God a little help, He does not need it. Everything is under His sovereign control.

“So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

Genesis 21:2

Abraham and Sarah had Isaac, the son of the promise (Gen 24). Isaac married Rebekah, who as the Bible records “was unable to have children”(Gen 25:21). We don’t have a lot of details as to why, we only know that Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, and the Lord answered him. I love this story because of Isaac‘s attitude to pray for his wife. What a beautiful demonstration of love towards her. And God answered him.

Rebekah gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:24-26). And without losing track of the main point, Jacob married Rachel, after working for 7 years for her. His love is described in Genesis 29:10 ”So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him like only a few days because of his love for her”. The Bible also says that Rachel was unable to have children, and unfortunately Jacob didn’t have the same attitude as his dad (Gen 30:2). But skipping all the drama contained in this story (believe me a lot happened there) in verse 22 says that God remembered her and opened her womb. Again God shows that He hears us and answers our prayers in His time.

We skip a few books later and find Hannah‘s story in 1 Samuel. The Bible says that she was loved by her husband but God had closed her womb, so she had no children (1 Sam 1:5). Every year their family would go to the city to worship and sacrifice to God, and every year Hannah would weep and pray to God for children. She then made a vow that if she got pregnant she would give the child back to the Lord. God remembered Hannah and opened her womb and she gave birth to Samuel. That beautiful verse came from her mouth: “For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my request which I asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:27). That is the part we usually remember, but she goes on to say “So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” She then paid her vow to the Lord when Samuel was three years old. The beautiful lesson of the story is not only God answering her prayer, but her faithfulness to Him and her heart on that. Hannah didn’t let the desire to have a child be bigger than her fear of the Lord. (Cherif has a great article about the motivations of our heart and the story of Hannah.)

Hannah didn’t let the desire to have a child be bigger than her fear of the Lord.

Lastly Elizabeth and Zacharias story is the perfect reminder that God fulfills His promises in the perfect time, and that His plans are much bigger than ours (Is 55:8-9). Elizabeth was known to be infertile (Luke 1:7), and she also became pregnant at an older age (v.24), just like Sarah. But not for coincidence, she would give birth to John the Baptist, the forerunner for Jesus the Messiah. 

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice over his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:13-17

How amazing God is! I hope we can rest in the assurance that our God is the same God of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth. He’s not only all knowing but also all powerful, and He’s the One and only Author of life.


1(Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 119)

Ana Luiza Lupinetti is passionate about helping and serving people. As a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife, she loves using her gifts and talents to help ministries succeed.