The Barren Womb
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John’” (Luke 1:11-13 NIV).
Zechariah was being informed by the angel Gabriel of his future son, John the Baptist. When Gabriel approached Zechariah he was burning incense in the temple. It was a special honor for a priest to be selected (by lot) to serve in this capacity. Zechariah was alone, or so he thought, in the temple when Gabriel appeared, so naturally one would be startled.
Gabriel told Zechariah that his prayer had been heard and he would soon be a father. The surprise element here is that Elizabeth had been barren and the scripture says both were “well along in years.” Being a priest, I’m sure Zechariah was familiar with Abraham and Sarah’s story and how he fathered Isaac at 100 years old and Sarah was 90.
Proverbs 30:16 (NIV) tells us that “the barren womb” is one of the “three things that are never satisfied.” In Elizabeth’s day, it was a sign of shame to be barren. When Elizabeth realized she was with child she said, “In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people" (Luke 1:25 NIV).
So how does one approach life when things seem hopeless? The best way is how Zechariah and Elizabeth did: “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly” (Luke 1:6 NIV).
Perhaps this message is particularly poignant and you feel like Zechariah or Elizabeth. If so, remember Sarah who gave birth to Isaac, Rachel who gave birth to Joseph and Hannah who gave birth to Samuel. All were barren for many years, but God provided. Always remember, God’s timing is perfect and in all these cases, great men were birthed! Do not fear, but “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12 NIV).
Lord, I pray anyone reading this and waiting on a child finds favor in Your eyes just like Elizabeth. We know You are the God of the impossible and the God of hope. Through You, all things are possible!
Prayer: Lord, I pray I can be joyful in hope in the barren areas of my life. I will seek living water so that I never thirst again. May I walk upright in Your sight and introduce others to the God of hope. In Jesus name, Amen.