"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Psalm 127:3).

When you are facing mountains of laundry or dealing with childhood squabbles, it's hard to imagine the heartache of couples who long for children. Two of our dearest friends experienced such heartache. For ten years they tried without success to start their own family. Realizing that God had chosen a different path for their marriage, they decided to "adopt" our children and actively help us when homeschooling. Whenever they came to visit, my children would squeal with delighted anticipation and run to the door to greet them. Natural-born teachers at heart, they usually brought a new educational gift to entertain our children, or they would spend countless hours reading their favorite stories. Even though bitterness in not having children of their own could have ruled their hearts, they chose instead to share their lives with unselfish love.

The story of Hannah in 1 Samuel also tells of the heartache of a childless woman. Crying out in despair before the Lord in the temple, Hannah knew the anguish of being barren. As she prayed silently for a little one to fill her arms, Eli the priest mistook her prayers for a drunken stupor. Hannah bravely told him her story and asked for God's blessing on her life. Eli assured her that God had indeed heard her prayer and told her to go home. The following year, Hannah's prayer was answered and Samuel was born. For several years she experienced the privilege of mothering this young boy and fulfilled her vow to bring him to the temple to serve the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11).

Every child is a miracle and a precious gift from God. Whether our own or someone else's child, we have the unique opportunity to be an influence for God's good in the hearts and minds of little ones. Our dear friends discovered that fact many years later. After the lengthy and expensive process of adoption, God finally gave them their heart's desire. Together we cried tears of joy for two precious baby girls. God had answered their prayers, and we praised Him for His most wonderful blessing in life — children. "He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD" (Psalm 113:9).

Lord, how wonderful it is to be a parent! Thank You for the privilege of loving children and teaching them Your truths. Even when the days are long and hard, help me to always treasure this most precious blessing. In Jesus' name, Amen.