Short Meds in Getting Ready in Covid-Advent: 4. Childless
Lk 1:7 “But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive.”
If you think life is sometimes tough, you’ve never put yourself in the shoes of the childless in a culture where children were important. You find yourself the butt of nasty comments – “Must be something wrong with them if they can’t have kids,” or “God must be punishing them.” Zechariah and Elizabeth are in good company because the scriptures record of the father of the faith, “Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.” (Gen 11:30) But that is no comfort. If you yearn to have children and friends all around you are having children, words do not comfort. Only God can comfort (2 Cor 3:4, 7:6). Elkanah sought to comfort Hannah (1 Sam 1:5,8) but it still didn’t stop her anguishing and pouring out her anguish to God (v.10) and it was only when Eli pronounced a blessing over her was her heart lifted.
There are some difficult verses in this area: of Hannah, “because the Lord had closed her womb,” (1 Sam 1:5,6) but of Sarai, she “was childless because she was not able to conceive,” (Gen 11:30) and of Rebekah – “she was childless” (Gen 25:21) and now, “Elizabeth was not able to conceive.” (Lk 1:7) so mostly these are just bald statements of fact in a fallen world where things go wrong. But what about Hannah? Well if we take the viewpoint of the sovereignty of God, that ultimately the Lord either makes things happen or very often simply allows things to happen, at the very least, the Lord allows things to go wrong in this fallen world, it is part of the package of brokenness. IF God did purposely stop Hannah conceiving, seen in the light of all that follows, it must have been to engineer Samuel being raised in the Tabernacle, to become the first prophet-ruler. Still tough on Hannah in the waiting days. But sinful lives? No it’s nothing like that, it’s just the fact that life in this fallen world sometimes sucks and we’re denying escapists if we think otherwise.
But now this couple are about to stand out because their hurt is going to experience a miracle. They are chosen by God (though they don’t know it yet) to raise the Messiah’s Forerunner. “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning,” (Psa 30:5) wrote the psalmist, and that will become true for them. God is going to take the brokenness of this fallen world (broken by the effects of Sin) and He’s going to work into it to bring joy and a prophet whose role will be to prepare Israel to receive His Son. Dare we believe that God will work into the present brokenness to bring joy, life and transformation to us and to His world?