Dealing with the wait to have children and the disappointment of miscarriages happen throughout the year. It is a constant reminder every time a commercial for diapers comes on, whenever I hear a baby cry or even particular episodes of TV shows. As I get older, the cultural conversation of families becomes more and more frequent, whether I have kids or not.
Something that has been really encouraging to me is to read about the women of the Bible who dealt with similar things I am going through. It shows me how much God has a heart for women, considering the number of stories written especially about this struggle. I thought, as an encouragement, I would share these stories from my perspective and what I have learned from them.
First on this list is Sarah, Abraham’s wife. She was older, beyond child-bearing years (which I can’t help but think of the times people have told me that it’s harder for me to have children the older I get. I’m sure Sarah got a lot of that.). She laughed when it was prophesied, and then tried to control the situation by convincing Abraham that Hagar was the solution. As a fellow control freak, I understand my own voice wanting to silence the voice of God. Trusting him in the quiet moments of waiting can be quite deafening. Yet, still, even though she makes mistakes, God made her the mother of many nations. It gives me peace that God has got a purpose for me, and he’s not going to back down on his promise.
Second, we have Rachel. Now, Rachel was the favorite for Jacob. He worked for 14 years so he could marry her. He married her sister first, and when Leah started having children, and Rachel did not, can you imagine the pressure? I can only imagine the whispers and pain Rachel had to live through each day, wondering to herself what was wrong with her, what she could have done better, and what she was being punished for (because the same thoughts cross my mind). Then, when she did get pregnant, her second pregnancy was so difficult that it ended in her death. Of course, her first son ends up saving their entire family in a famine, through the guidance of God in his life. Her story gives me peace that whatever my family story will be, God will be there to guide that family.
A third is Hannah. Hannah is my favorite. She was a favorite of her husband Elkanah and didn’t get along so well with the other wife who was able to have children (which seems to be a running theme in these stories). Though we don’t hear that seemingly drunk-on-grief prayer in 1 Samuel, we do get to hear the promise and the praise. True to her word, she gives her firstborn son to the temple to be raised once he was weaned. The prayer of praise in 1 Samuel 2 is one of my favorite passages which comes after she leaves Samuel at the temple. She even goes on to have more children. Her story encourages me to put God first always, to trust in his plans and purpose for me, and to stay in continuous praise in my relationship with Him.
Finally, there is Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. There isn’t much about her struggle in the book of Luke, just that she and Zechariah were older, like Sarah and Abraham. When it was time to have the baby, all the neighbors and relatives came over. Everyone wanted to name him after a relative, just as tradition had dictated (how many traditions are pressured by society and family now? Hmmm). She insisted on John, and after the mute Zechariah wrote out the same, he began to speak, actually making everyone else quiet. I learn from Elizabeth, that even when my opportunity comes, I want to make sure that I hear the voice of God over the voice of society, to do what is best for my family and not just what is expected.
I hope that this encourages you whether you have children, want children, or don’t want children. These stories are not just about having babies. These are stories of women who were following the voice of God in their lives. Wherever you are in life, don’t give up! Whatever pains or pressure you are feeling, don’t be disheartened! Just like the wonderful women in these stories, God had a purpose and plan for me and for you.