He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9, ESV
Our verse today completes the beautiful picture of this tender, compassionate God, powerful in his mercy in his willingness to stoop down to meet the needs of his people, still “living in darkness”, (Matthew 4:16) to recognise and remedy their suffering, and bless those disadvantaged as he, “raises the poor from the dust ... lifts the needy from their misery… and honours the childless wife” by “(making) her happy by giving her children”. (Psalm 113:7,9, GNT)
What indescribable joy and hope the miracle of conception brings to the woman who discovers she’s going to be a mother; who will soon hold the unique little person created within her womb in her arms. Instinctively she knows the rich worth her baby will bring to her life, and the fulfilment of motherhood. But for the woman unable to conceive, that hope isn’t satisfied, and she lives her life with a yearning for that joy. Babies are part of God’s plan for creating life, but longing for a baby doesn’t guarantee the ability to conceive one, regardless of who we are; God holds the key.
As we focus on being in step with God this Advent, the miracle of his grace becomes apparent as Zechariah and Elizabeth’s barren life emerges.
Not only did the childless Elizabeth miss out on the joy and fulfilment of having a baby, it sometimes alienated her from those who did. In the Hebrew culture barrenness brought shame, as it was seen as a result of a woman’s hidden offence, failing, or sin. Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth had “lived good lives in God’s sight and obeyed the Lord’s laws and commands”.(Luke1:6) Elizabeth, the barren wife of a priest, would have experienced her share of humiliation and sorrow.
But God intervened and changed this that first Advent. In timing that only he could devise, God answered their prayers and blessed Elizabeth and Zechariah with their long awaited baby – in their old age – showing them his purpose for their long wait. Their baby would be no ordinary child. Gabriel had told Zechariah: “From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and he will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go ahead of the Lord, strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah.” (Luke 1:15-17)
Implicitly trusting God is vital to faith and something we can learn at any age. What God did for Elizabeth far surpassed her immediate perception: “Now at last the Lord has helped me,” she said. “He has taken away my public disgrace!” (Luke 1:25, GNT) Little did Elizabeth realise then that the plan that God had for John, as the forerunner to the Messiah, would also address the spiritual barrenness of the people of Israel and, in time, the rest of the world.
God still addresses any barrenness in our lives today when we believe in his grace and trust him to meet our need.
Prayer: Lord, we celebrate your amazing grace to us; please help us to trust you for fruitfulness in our lives. Amen