By Bindu Adai-Mathew
To read Part I of Childless Mothers, click here.
So yesterday I encouraged you to find your worth, your value as a woman and as an individual in God, and to remember that you were created for Him above all other roles in your life. All that sounds wonderful, but when you’re struggling and deeply hurt, it all sounds like religious psycho-babble, doesn’t it? I get it. No, really I do. I waited. No, not for kids, but for marriage…and not just for marriage, but for my first relationship. Growing up in America and not having a boyfriend is an aberration…and believe me, I felt like an aberration. By the time I was in my mid-20s, the same parents who had forbidden me to date throughout high school and college were suddenly burdened by my single status. My dad looked at me like I had an expiration date stamped on my forehead. He made me feel as if I had failed him as a daughter and my only hope to be in his good graces again would be to be married. And ASAP! Soon enough I began to feel tormented at the sight of couples, who were only a reminder of my failure, both as a daughter and as a normal human being. They seemed to be everywhere. In grocery lines. At the movie theater. At the mall. At Starbucks. And don’t even get me started when I had to attend weddings with my parents. While my parents acted like they were attending a funeral, I would often feel like someone was pouring hydrogen peroxide onto an open wound I had. Over and over again.
So I get it. I know how it feels when you feel like everyone is passing you by…when you have to deal with the sympathetic, curious looks from not-so-tactful relatives who also have the ability to ask downright obnoxious questions. When you, too, are left with wondering where God is and if He cares, and sometimes in those desperate moments, whether He even really exists.
You’ve prayed. You’ve waited. Now what?
The answer is simple. Wait. I know, I know. You’ve BEEN waiting. But don’t wait with pessimism and whining. When, Lord, when? Why, Lord, why? Why meeeeeeeee, Lord, why meeeeeeeeeeee?
Wait with excitement! Wait with anticipation! The Bible promises that God will keep His promise to you. I can’t guarantee that God’s plan is for you to have a child. But if that is His will for your life, you can be rest assured that it WILL happen.
How do I know? Because Sarah, wife of Abraham, waited. A long time.
Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18: 11-14
And just as God promised, it did happen:
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
6And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.a All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” Genesis 21: 1-7
I think God waited to give Sarah and Abraham a son so there would be no doubt in either one of their minds that their child was nothing less than a fulfillment of God’s promise. He worked OUTSIDE her own biological timetable to make good on His promise to her. I think He did that to strengthen her faith, but now it also strengthens OUR faith. Because the same God who blessed Sarah is the same God who can bless you. Age is not a problem for our God.
While I am not saying you have to wait until you are 90-something years old to be a mom like Sarah did, don’t we all have those “If it doesn’t happen by X date/time, it’s over” deadlines erected in our heads? I recall turning 29 and thinking if I hadn’t met someone by now, then I would most likely still be single at 30, which was my personal “now or never” deadline. And sure enough, I turned 30 and remained single as ever. And wouldn’t you know it, three months later, I was introduced to the man who would become my husband.
So don’t give God a deadline. It doesn’t work. In fact, more often than not, it backfires. Badly. And when it doesn’t happen according to our timetable, we only get more discouraged and disappointed, thinking God has forsaken us.
As I mentioned yesterday, there were several women, in addition to Sarah, whom God blessed with children, even after they suffered from years of infertility:
- Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 25:21 that Isaac pleaded to the Lord for his wife who was barren. It was 20 years after their marriage that the Lord blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Jacob and Esau.
- Rachel, wife of Jacob. Jacob married sisters Rachel and Leah. Leah had six sons and a daughter, but the the scripture tell us that the Lord had closed Rachel’s womb. Rachel tried everything she could think of to have children. Once in anguish, she cried out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Jacob in anger replied, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” The Lord eventually did open her womb, and she bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
- Samson’s mother. The Scriptures do not tell us the name of Samson’s mother, but she was childless until an angel appeared to the wife of Manoah promising a male child, a Nazarite, who would judge the children of Israel (Judges 13).
- Hannah, wife to Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives. His favorite wife, Hannah, was barren. Peninnah, the other wife, taunted Hannah since she had no children. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, promising to give him back to the Lord’s work. God answered her prayer with the birth of Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. (1 Samuel 1).
- The Shunammite woman. 2 Kings 4:8-17 relates the account of the Shunammite woman, whom the Bible calls the great woman. She was great in faith, wisdom, and silence. She opened her home to the prophet Elisha and made him his own little private chamber, a favorite place of retreat for him. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality, but she made it clear that she was not seeking honor, recognition, or favors from him. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, told Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. Elisha’s promise that she would have a son when spring came around again was fulfilled.
- Elisabeth, cousin to Mary, mother of Jesus. The Bible also describes Elisabeth as well-stricken in years and barren. She and her husband Zachariah had long already given up hope of ever bearing a child, when an angel appeared to Zachariah promising a son. That son was John the Baptist, the forerunner and greatest prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (Luke 1).
God opened up all of the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances, the women were clearly beyond child bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. We may not understand the ways of God, but I want to encourage you to continue believing and hoping. The same God who performed those miracles long ago can also perform miracles in your life today. Believe!