Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice. Phil. 4:4
As I stood in the bathroom, the dread of disappointment draped over me. More than a year earlier, I’d lost my second baby to miscarriage. Day after day, infertility ate away at me as I watched friends my age raising kids—their first, second, third…
But for me, after years of trying, once again, only a single pink line emerged on the stick. “Oh, Lord,” I cried, “No baby? Again?” A familiar knot formed in my throat, then tears as I engaged again in the mental struggle to trust God while waiting. I hugged my empty middle. “Please fill me, Lord.”
Poor Hannah understood this emptiness. Remember her story? Her husband took two wives. One’s hands were kept busy raising many babies. Hannah held none of her own. Even though her husband loved her and showered double portions on her, nothing could fill that hole in her heart, nothing but a baby.
Worse, the other wife mocked and belittled, igniting already painful wounds. “Year by year,” the Scripture says, Hannah endured.
And she wept.
Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad?” (1 Sam. 1:8, ESV)
Three times her husband Elkanah asks her why she’s sad. We know she longed for a child, just like I did when I suffered from infertility, but like we’ve seen before, there’s more to it. She pours out her heart to the Lord because she longs to be part of the covenant promise. She longs for God’s blessing, and knows babies are part of that blessing.
We’ve sure seen a lot of childless women so far—and more will come. Why? Why does the Holy Spirit repeat this theme over and over again in his word?
Deuteronomy 28 lists barrenness as part of the curse. One of the things the Lord is teaching us is that in Old Testament times an unfruitful womb pointed to the sinful state of mankind. It reminded aching humanity that the fall skewed our standing with God, and, for that to be made right, great obstacles must be overcome. Death must be overcome.
Dear friends, our fore-mothers’ empty wombs parallel our complete inability to bring forth acceptable fruit from our sinful state. Our lifeless souls can’t deliver righteousness to a holy God. Our hearts are as dead as Hannah’s womb.
Just as Hannah’s womb needed to be revived, we desperately need someone to perform CPR on our limp souls.
And what does God do with Hannah’s barren womb? Just like the other precious ladies we’ve seen, he brings forth life!
And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:19-20, ESV)
God remembered her. Do you see the picture God creates? Out of the curse, comes blessing. Out of darkness, light. Out of her womb’s grave, new life.
Hannah’s story is a resurrection story, as are so many in the Bible.
Another Barren Woman
There’s a barren woman in the Christmas story, too. Remember? Not Mary.
She’s so much like Hannah—dedicated to the Lord, worships in the temple with her husband, is unable to have children until the Lord remembers her.
And their sons! Do you remember Hannah’s boy? Samuel. Elizabeth’s lad grows up to be John the Baptist. Check out these parallels:
Both are chosen by God before their births.
Both hear God’s voice.
Both prepare the way for a great king.
Both call God’s people to repent.
Samuel anoints David. John baptizes Jesus.
Cool, yes? But take a look at this one. When the angel told Elizabeth’s husband about their upcoming pregnancy, he said this:
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. (Luke 1:14, ESV)
Hannah’s reaction to hearing she would bear a son?
Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Sam. 1:18, ESV)
After my long infertility, when my firstborn finally came, my church sisters put on the most amazing shower ever. We rejoiced with cake and punch and silly games. Imagine how Hannah and Elizabeth whooped it up!
But they weren’t just excited to finally cuddle sweet babies (although that in itself is pretty awesome). Even better, both Samuel and John the Baptist prepared the way for an even greater baby boy, the one snuggled in mother Mary’s arms.
And he would willingly enter the death’s womb for us, and then out of the barrenness of death, come forth alive. Now that’s a reason to smile!
How excited Hannah was when her baby came. She couldn’t stop smiling. Elizabeth too! In the midst of Christmas hustle-bustle, let’s not forget to rejoice in our dear baby Jesus. He finally came, he conquered sin and death, and he rose again. Stop in the midst of the chaos and joyfully ponder the incredible gift we have in Jesus—and rejoice!
Remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.
Let your light shine: What can you rejoice about today? I’d love to hear!