During our engagement, I learned that family planning was a part of every responsible married couple's life. Reproductive life was compared to the law of gravity – not every baby was considered a miracle and a blessing from God, but rather the natural consequence of marital relations and should be controlled with the same sense of precaution one would use to prevent falling off a roof. You wouldn't want to have 20 children!
“Foam and faith” was the catch phrase, so when we married we used spermicide foam for 75% protection, and faith for the rest. God could overrule and give us a baby anyway, but I wasn't getting married in order to become a mother. I just wanted to enjoy my husband and be a wife.
After seven months of marriage we got 'careless' and conceived our daughter. A year and a half later God blessed us with a son. Now that we had a boy and a girl, I did not want any more children. It was a dark time of depression in my memory. My husband was busy with friendships, ministry and 'men' activities and I hated being a woman stuck with two crying, fighting, demanding children. When our son was seven months old I weaned him and went onto birth control pills.
Due to a blood-clot scare, after a few months we asked the doctor for advice concerning other forms of birth control I didn't want to use any of them because they either caused spontaneous abortions, such as IUD's or were unreliable, or were too much trouble. I wanted a 100% reliable, 100% safe form of birth control. The doctor asked us some serious questions about future desires for children. We responded emphatically, No. So he recommended a permanent change – a vasectomy.
At that time we were pastoring a small congregation with a vision for overseas service at some point. The movement we were a part of allowed only three children for overseas applicants. It seemed as though our children were a hindrance to our ministry – every time we would try to counsel or pray with someone, one of the children would interrupt, get hurt, or into trouble of some kind. I couldn't spend time praying or studying the Bible as I used to love to do. And when we were aggravated with our children, we didn't feel or act very 'spiritual'. We felt we had all we could handle and just wanted to try to do a good job with the children we already had. A boy and a girl – what more could you want?
After consulting with godly friends and family, we concluded that this was a very wise idea, considering our financial circumstances and future plans. When we returned from the surgery at the clinic, I felt my husband had died for me that day. He seemed cheerful enough, and after two follow-up checks, we were assured that we would have no more babies. I felt such freedom from worrying about pregnancy and turned all of my attention towards raising the two children we had.
For fifteen years I did not regret our decision. Then one day my sister said something about limiting family size being part of a 'feminist conspiracy.' It was like scales fell off my eyes and I saw that what we had done was wrong. We repented for taking control of this area of our lives. We told God that if He wanted us to have more children, we were willing, thinking that perhaps now He wanted us to adopt or take in foster children. We never considered a 'reversal' at all.
The moment we repented, God did an amazing miracle. After missing two periods unexplainably, I went to the doctor for a checkup, and he tested for pregnancy. My husband and children were hoping it would be positive. I realized then that it was my own selfishness that had been responsible all along.
I found myself repenting on behalf of all believers for our unwillingness to travail. The word 'virtuous' from the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 comes from the root word “to travail in childbirth” and is translated as “army” or “mighty” almost everywhere else in the Bible. If women are unwilling to travail, there is no army. I saw in the spirit a line of army ranks with many people missing, children never allowed to be born.
When the nurse told me the result was positive, she asked, “Is that good news or bad?” This is the first question used by medical professionals to counsel women into abortions. An obstetrician insisted I go for genetic counseling and routine sonograms as well as amniocentesis through the pregnancy due to my age. They urged the immediacy of the genetic counseling, presumably so I could have an earlier abortion in case they found any problems.
For six weeks I prayed every day, “God please renew my mind, because I 'm still not thinking the way You think.” I saw myself as a clay vessel, in a room filled with other clay vessels. The only miraculous thing about these clay vessels was the ability to produce other clay vessels, but we were not willing.
During this pregnancy I began spotting and it looked like I would lose the baby. My initial attitude was, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” My sister and her husband interceded in prayer, and my spirit broke. I began to cry, 'God, I want this child.” God healed me, and the rest of the pregnancy was smooth sailing.
When our baby was born, I cried for two more weeks in repentance, “Lord, this is what we were trying to prevent?” After this baby, we received two more wonderful sons, all beautifully born at home and precious miracles.
Gid'n and Shirah's oldest children are Gilah (23), Israel (21) and after fifteen years God miraculously gave them three sons, Yosi (6), Jeremy (4) and Benjamin (1).