The Beautiful Story of an Unplanned Pregnancy and a Barren Woman
A few weeks ago I stumbled into the kitchen with half opened eyes to make a cup of coffee. As I stared blankly at my Keurig as it poured my liquid gold, I heard the Lord whisper to me to read Luke 1. Immediately, I thought, “Really God? You want me to read the story of Jesus’ birth a few weeks before Christmas? Isn’t that a bit cliche…?” (Thankfully, I think the Lord knew my response was because I didn’t have any of that liquid gold in my system yet, and not because I truly thought He was cliche…) Once the fragrance of coffee filled my kitchen I took my “This girl loves Christmas” mug, pushed aside my initial thought that reading Luke 1 this time of year was cliche, and plopped on my couch to read it.
But something unexpected happened. As I read through the chapter my heart began to break.
It broke for an old woman who had been barren for years. I read her story with tear filled eyes, putting myself in her shoes. Oh, the things that must have been said behind Elizabeth’s back living in a society where offspring was a sign of favor from God. I bet as she walked the streets of Judea people whispered as they looked at her barren womb, wondering what sins she had committed to have God withhold His blessing on her life. I cried as I imagined her pain, knowing that she was righteous, but not seeing the fruits of her righteousness; the one thing that would prove to all those whispers that she was righteous. That she was favored by God. A baby. I imagined the pain of seeing others believe lies about you that you can’t justify.
Then my heart broke for a young woman, only about fourteen, who was judged by a society who held purity at a high regard. I can imagine the whispers that went on about her. How she must have laid with Joseph prematurely, or worse, a man she wasn’t engaged to. I can imagine the older women of Galilee wondering now that she was impure and immoral what righteous man would want her? Tears dripped from my eyes as I imagined her trek across town from Judea back to Galilee where she would have been seen pregnant and unmarried. The sharp glances she must have received. The words shouted at her. Every word and whisper another blow to her heart. All while she knew that the reason they were judging her was the proof of her favor in God’s eyes, not her sin.
Then I bit my nails as Mary went to visit Elizabeth. I immediately thought of how painful it would have been for Elizabeth, so very old, to see Mary, so very young, carrying the Messiah. I imagined how hurt Elizabeth would have been to know that Mary got a ‘better’ blessing than her after all these years of waiting and being righteous. But oh, was I wrong.
As I continued reading I saw how beautifully God brought an unplanned pregnant women and a barren women together.
How perfect God’s timing is!
He didn’t come to Mary with the news that she’d carry the Messiah until He’d allowed Elizabeth to get pregnant and begin to show. You see scientifically if Elizabeth was “very old” like Luke 1:7 says then she wouldn’t have any sign that she was pregnant because she would have already gone through menopause. The only way she would have known she was truly pregnant was by the growth of her belly. The physical growth of her promise. How amazing that God waited until Elizabeth saw her promise to send Mary!
Then I was amazed at Elizabeth’s genuine joy for Mary. You see Elizabeth could have been jealous because Mary, only around fourteen, got to carry the Messiah, while I’m sure Elizabeth had waited longer than Mary had been alive to conceive. How many times have you seen others get what you have prayed for quicker and “better’ than you and allowed it to make you bitter? I know I’m guilty of this, but I read this story and got no hint of that in Elizabeth. Instead she rejoices and begins to prophesy over Mary. You see Elizabeth realized that just because Mary was entrusted to carry Jesus, it didn’t mean that she had less of a blessing growing inside her. Instead she realized that both had babies growing inside them that would shake the entire world!
I also thought about how Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months. If Elizabeth prophesied so much to Mary in just three minutes how much more was said in three months. I imagined the tears of pure joy shed, the words of encouragement when doubt began to rise up, the hugs that healed the wounds that words spoken against them had caused. I imagined Mary encouraging Elizabeth as she feared giving birth in her old age. Then I imagined Elizabeth rubbing Mary’s growing belly, four months along as they said goodbye to one another. I wonder if Mary remembered those words spoken by Elizabeth as she trekked back to Galilee as others began to notice that she was growing a belly without a husband beside her. I wonder if those words spoken by a very old barren woman to a young unplanned pregnant woman gave Mary even more confidence to believe the truths of God’s promise for her when looks and lies of others surrounded her.
I closed my bible and realized, yes, Luke 1 is about the birth of Jesus, but it is also about two women who were ostracized by a society who claimed to know God, but judged the one carrying Him. It is about two righteous woman who both had unplanned things happen, but were brought together at just the right time.
I want to challenge you these next few days to be like Elizabeth. To find someone who is getting the blessing you desire and see it as what it is, a blessing from God to them, rather than a withheld blessing from you. I challenge you to pray for them and ask God to give you an encouragement for them. See how your hard heart begins to melt in seeing His goodness for them in that area. Just because they got the blessing sooner or ‘better’ than you doesn’t mean you don’t have an amazing one coming!
And I want to also challenge you to be like Mary. Un-wavered by the thoughts of other. Unafraid to say a big fat “YES” when God calls you to do the unthinkable. To have the courage to believe that when God speaks a promise it is yes and amen, no matter how crazy or unconventional it may be. But mostly I challenge you to allow others to speak into your life. Let older, wiser people who have been there speak to your situation and just receive.
Because you never know if in doing these things you will get to be apart of as beautiful a story as Mary and Elizabeth; two women who on the outside had nothing in common, but were brought together with their belief of a miracle working God to produce two men who would shake the nations.