The Christmas season brings to mind the Scripture that details Mary and Joseph's search for a room in Bethlehem to shelter them from the night. Though they knocked on many doors, they only received the reply that there was no room for them. Finally, they found a place that made room for the expectant couple. It recalls to me the birth of my own children and makes me ask myself, do we have room for one more?
There was a time when my husband and I thought we would have a specific number of children, a kin to objects you plan to acquire in life. "How many children do you think you will have," is a question often asked of couples. God has changed our hearts not to see our family as a specific number, but of questioning ourselves if there is room for one more. It leads us to be open to what God may have for us. Now, we take it year by year, child by child, just having our hearts open to another child.
One reason for this was seeing children as a gift, a blessing from God. You can search all of Scripture and not find any evidence that children are a curse, though the demand of day-to-day reality easily leads people to think differently. In fact, children, in the generic term, are always referred to as a blessing in the Bible. The idea that children are an inconvenient drain is completely a worldly notion. While being a lot of work, children are also very valuable. The work they require is really an opportunity to serve and grow in God. Now, that does not mean you have to have 16 children to be deemed truly righteous. It simply means, that whether you have 2 or 20, you are blessed to have children. It also means as a church family, we are blessed to have children in our congregation.
Parents are not the only ones who need to view children as a blessing. While the parents are called to disciple their children*, the church plays many important roles in bringing up the next generation too. One way is by seeing children as a gift to our congregation, celebrating each addition of a new child to our fold with joy. The attitude of the Church on this matter will determine the direction of its members. It is amazing what a little encouragement can do. The cards and presents we received after the birth of our 3rd child gave me tangible evidence that he was a blessing to be celebrated, not a misfortune as the world may think. So, when we meet a family of 6, instead of being shock and feeling pity for them, we can comment on their great blessing.
If the Church does not see the addition of children as a "good thing," then believers will see a family of more than 1.8 children as a misfortune. Making room for one more will not even be on the radar of options. Encouraging adoption will be difficult, or it will be seen as charity at best. Picking up on our negative response, the next generation's perfect family size will shrink and they will not know to delight in children.
Personally, getting a Biblical attitude adjustment towards seeing my children as a gift has made one of the biggest differences in me being able to delight in my own children. By delight, I mean that I truly enjoy spending time with my children, not because I ought to or because they are "good," but because God has changed my heart. So, yes, we have room for one more. There is a lot more to be said on the subject, but the point is that children are a gift from the Lord.
*You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 136:13-16
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10