A few weeks ago I shared a piece that some of you could relate to called: When Waiting Hurts, Hope Heals. My “waiting” right now is a desire for another baby, and as many of you know, waiting can be a piercing journey.
God’s word is especially encouraging to me in the uncertain moments of life. Over the past few weeks I have been reading stories of women in the Bible who knew a thing or two about waiting for a child. I was surprised to find so many stories of women who wrestled with infertility. Sometimes this topic is thought of as a modern day issue, when in actuality it’s something women and couples have been dealing with since the beginning. While there are several women in the Bible who faced this struggle, three women stood out to me the most. Their stories were comforting to me and maybe they will comfort you as well…
Sarah was a God fearing woman who was faithful to her husband Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. After many years of not being able to conceive, Sarah was understandably discouraged and doubted the covenant God made with her husband. So Abraham and Sarah decided to work things out in their own way. Sarah convinced Abraham to sleep with her faithful maidservant, Hagar, thinking that maybe they could bear a child through her. This was considered an acceptable practice in ancient Israel. Abraham and Hagar conceived a child— a son named Ishmael.
Even though Abraham and Sarah chose a route of their own, God remained faithful to His promise. Sometime after Ishmael’s birth, God once again spoke with Abraham, this time specifically telling him that Sarah would get pregnant with a son and she would become the mother of the nations. Sarah laughed when she heard this news because she was well beyond her child bearing years. But just as promised, she became pregnant at age 90 and gave birth to a son named Isaac.
Sarah’s story offers hope to anyone who might be struggling with doubt in the midst of waiting for a child. Sarah was a beautiful woman inside and out and she loved the Lord, but she was also human. She had a moment of doubting God’s faithfulness, but in the end she stood firm in her faith. God was gracious and blessed her and Abraham with their very own child. And their son wasn’t just any child—Isaac was a very significant child. God chose to continue His covenant through Isaac (and not Ishmael) and this was the bloodline through which Jesus would eventually be born from.
Hannah was another God fearing woman who desperately desired to be a mom. But like Sarah, she struggled with infertility. In ancient Israel, barrenness was a source of humiliation and shame, so this must have caused Hannah great distress. She was married to Elkanah, and he had a second wife who was able to bear children. This second wife taunted Hannah—making matters more agonizing then they already were.
Hannah exhibited an unwavering faith and reverence to the Lord in the midst of her turmoil. She could have turned her back on God and gotten angry, but she didn’t allow her grief to get the best of her. Instead, she brought her broken heart before the Lord and prayed fervently for many years.
After years of lifting up heartfelt cries to the Lord, God showered her with grace and with the answer she was hoping for. She became pregnant with a son named Samuel, who also wasn’t just any child, but a very significant child in history. Samuel grew up to become the last of Israel’s judges, the first of Israel’s major prophets, and he anointed the first two kings of Israel, King Saul and King David. Furthermore, Hannah bore several more children after Samuel.
Hannah’s story is a source of comfort to anyone who might be waiting for a first child or for more children. She went from barren to blessed, giving birth to 6 children total. Hannah was real with her feelings—she cried and she prayed, she cried and she prayed, she cried and she prayed…until one day God blessed with the gift of being pregnant. She faithfully waited upon the Lord for His timing; she committed herself to prayer; she remained loyal to God and to her husband—and eventually her heart’s desire was fulfilled.
Elizabeth had a strong faith in the Lord and she was married to Zechariah. Both Elizabeth and Zechariah were considered holy and righteous in the sight of God. Yet they found themselves childless in their old age. As mentioned earlier, barrenness was considered disgraceful in ancient times so this must have been very difficult for Elizabeth to endure.
One day the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth would become pregnant with a son. Zechariah found himself in a state of disbelief and became mute. This couple was well past child-bearing age, so how could this be? As foretold, Elizabeth became pregnant in her old age and gave birth to a son named John. Once again, John wasn’t just any child, but a child who grew up to play an incredibly significant role in history. He became John the Baptist, the prophet who foretold the coming of the Messiah.
Elizabeth’s story is one that reminds us that God can do miracles. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth remained faithful to God throughout their lives, and through God’s mighty power, they conceived a child in their old age. Elizabeth gave God the glory, and while Zechariah didn’t believe the good news at first, he too praised God once their son entered into the world.
Each woman’s story is a little different, but there are some striking similarities among these three women:
- They were each God fearing women who loved and served the Lord.
- They each remained loyal to their husbands.
- They each gave God the glory for the children that they bore.
- They each had firstborn sons who played significant roles in history.
- They each are remembered as strong women of faith in the present day.
These women understood the heartache and pain that comes from not being able to have a child. They endured the waiting and in the end, God exchanged their aching hearts for the desired gift of motherhood.
Each of these women bore children and became moms, but this isn’t the happy ending to everyone’s story. Some people end up with a houseful of children, and others cry themselves to sleep at night wondering why God is withholding children from them—and why this is…
I just don’t know.
What I do know is that only God Himself can see the big picture and our view is limited. In the midst of our waiting, God does not want us to beat up on ourselves thinking that He’s punishing us for something we must have done—that’s not the God I know.
Instead, God wants us to cling to Him and fix our eyes on Him—just like Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth did. He wants us to trust Him over our fears. He wants us to keep praying even when it hurts. He wants us to persevere even when we feel like giving up.
Only God knows the details of the future and only He knows how things will turn out, but one thing is certain…
When our HOPE is in the Great I Am, The Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End, The Father to the Fatherless, The Lamb Who was Slain, The Creator of the Universe, The Everlasting King, The Almighty God—then our waiting is never in vain.
He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. He intertwines our joys with our sorrows, our successes with our failures, and our disappointments with our triumphs. He creates good out of it ALL. He creates breathtaking beauty from dark ashes.
For those of us who have chosen to allow Jesus to reign in our hearts, we can be encouraged at all times—even in unknown seasons of waiting. We can rest assured that He will lead us to good things in His timing.
Sarah’s Story (Genesis Chapters 15-18, Genesis 21:1-20)
Hannah’s Story (1 Samuel Chapters 1 & 2)
Elizabeth’s Story (Luke Chapter 1)
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