Facing infertility with a heart of praise.

When I was young I had a heart for the women of the Bible. I wanted to so desperately know their stories and relate to their hardships, victories, and strengths.

I would write in my journal, while studying God’s word, and for many years wrote a book of sorts that transformed their stories into modernized plays, poems, and practical bible studies. When books on women of the Bible started filling the bookstores I felt that what my 16 year old self had to share wasn’t good enough for others to hear so I tucked those stories away and now here in my late 20’s they are brewing up again, calling me heart and comforting my soul. Someday, maybe, I will share those with my daughters and others who need to hear but for now here is one I am discovering with a new perspective.

Join me will you?

Tonight the women of the Bible have lead me back into a great deal of wonder and application and the stories revolve around non other then my “Christmas ladies” Elizabeth and Mary. The story comes to life tonight between my chest, my heart, my pride, and quite frankly parts that hurt and like to be hidden.

If you don’t know Elisabeth here is your brief Bio.

  • Married to a very important jewish priest Zacherius
  • A Godly woman who honors Him fully
  • Barren until she is super old
  • Culture assumed a woman without child was likely sinful
  • Culture valued woman in their ability to bear children
  • Aunt to Mary the mother of Jesus

So here Elisabeth is well into her years and she is told by Gabriel that she is going to have a son named John (the John the Baptist) he is going to prepare the way for the Lord (baby Jesus) and that the story of her infertility is no longer her story. She rejoices, she is filled with joy, and her husband is doubtful. Part of me wonders if he was protective, you know like, “It’s okay we don’t have to have a baby, we’ve already wrestled with that, not now, why now? Seriously Lord?”  God allows Gabriel to close his mouth and Zacherius literally watches in amazement as his wife carries a baby in her upper 80 somethings.

I am sure we can all glean different golden nuggets from this point in the story but for me I love these ones.

  • God is fully glorified in Elisabeth’s pregnancy apart from Him everyone knew that this baby never would have been.
  • Zacherius doubts but Elisabeth believes. I find it amazing that as a priest Zacherius doubted yet his wife believed God was going to honor His promise to her. I imagine despite the many years of them asking the Lord, “Why not us? Why them? What is wrong with us- me?”  Elisabeth may have asked more. Deep in her soul she longed for a baby to hold and bitterness could have swept in but it didn’t. Her ability to rejoice leads me to believe she gave her pain over to God so fully that when it came to His blessing it already sat in the Lords hands- it was all up to Him and there was peace in learning that over the years.

So fast forward a bit and Mary hears her good news, the news that she is going to have the Savior of the World, Jesus, and it is going to be a miracle. She is maybe 15 years old and while she wonders at all of the things and willing accepts Gabriel’s message she definitely has some big hurdles to jump through. Before we learn much more about what Mary’s family thinks or where she is heading we know that she goes to visit her aunt Elisabeth for about 3 months.

Now I don’t know about you but I can’t imagine wanting to tell the very first person that I am pregnant to, to be my aunt,  the one who has been trying for years to have a baby and is now finally pregnant. But what makes me marvel is that Mary chose her the aunt with a story to tell. In my mind the only reason Mary would choose her was because Elisabeth was so loving and kind. Mary knew she would be able to share what the Lord was doing in her life and Elisabeth would rejoice in Mary’s privilege.

I am sure we can all glean different golden nuggets from this point in the story but for me I love these ones.

  • Yes Mary is Amaze-balls and we all know it. She willing takes on the risk of being stoned to death, losing her husband, her family, her reputation, the fear of raising Christ and not being enough, being super young, unmarried, and facing Joseph the man she loved and was yet to wed.
  • Elisabeth my backseat lady though really wows me. She could have felt jealous-  ” I faithfully waited for years and honored you God and all I get to have is John not baby Jesus.” She could have felt embarrassed to have Mary come and live with her- “What would people think?!?!” She could have felt angry, cheated, annoyed by the insensitivity of Mary coming.

Elisabeth could have felt so many heart aching emotions from the years of loss but you know what she feels- she feels joy. Jump from the ground, 80 year old spry joy, because she know the Lord has a plan and she’s just happy to be apart of it all. No matter her role, no matter her loss, no matter others opinions- she felt joy that was not circumstantial.

I see Elisabeth and I admonish her character. I desire to have her joy amidst infertility and adversity. I want to rejoice with fellow women pregnant again, women adopting, women trying, women losing, women doing testing. I want to be like Elisabeth and celebrate other women in their journey- no matter the way it could look on the outside.

I am praying in this season of my life that I would be so in tune with God and so turned over with my fears and loses that I know the blessings fully rest in His hands anyways.

Can you relate to Elizabeth? Have you felt loss and can now rejoice? Are you in the midst of pain?  How are you handing your heartache over to God? Will you join me in joy that abounds despite circumstances?

Very Merrily,

Ashleigh Harris

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