It was almost a dozen Christmases ago now when I decided to search Scripture for the stories of infertility. There are many references to barrenness throughout the Bible, but there are seven specific women identified as infertile, and as I took time to read and reflect on each of them, I found some fascinating things. Specifically that the story of Christmas is filled with women who could not bear children.
So today, just before Christmas, I want to share this story with each of you–and especially with those who are waiting for Christmas with empty arms. Especially to those who, like me, have spent years and years wondering and asking and carrying sorrow.
When I started this study, I secretly wanted to find a pattern. Something that identified whether or not God would hear my prayers for a miracle, and I did find a pattern—just not the kind I was expecting.
I found a pattern of God seeing and hearing and responding to His people. And I also saw God being concerned with a much bigger plan than any of the individual women could have possibly known at the time.
With Sarah, the birth of Isaac mattered because this was the beginning of the line to Jesus. The coming of the Christ wasn’t random and wasn’t by mankind’s willpower. It was set into motion centuries before Jesus arrived and it started and ended with a miracle.
With Rebekah, another miracle pushed the lineage of Christ forward. Through Jacob would come the twelve tribes of Israel, and specifically, the tribe of Judah from which Jesus would be born.
Rachel’s sons would not be in the lineage of Christ, but Joseph would save his entire family from starvation when a famine swept through the land and his faith in God would bring hope to nations.
During one of the darkest seasons in Israel’s history, Manoah’s wife would give birth to a miracle, and Samson, despite his rebellion against God’s instructions, would still be used to save Israel from those trying to destroy the nation.
In the story of Hannah, we find the birth of Samuel, who interrupts the corruption in the priesthood and brings a season of renewal and hope to the Israelite people—an action that establishes the nation and provides a platform for God to reveal Himself, not only to the Jewish people but also to the nations around them.
The Shunammite woman, who is never named and gives birth to a son who is also never named, was part of a revelation story about the power of God. Elisha’s experiences with this woman and her son demonstrate the Lord’s willingness to step into the narrative and offer hope even in the face of death. This sets the stage for a much bigger revelation and a much bigger resurrection.
And, of course, Elizabeth, whose son John is the announcer of the coming Christ. The miracle of his birth reminds us that God left nothing to chance.
The heroic redemption of all people wasn’t just stumbled upon. Rather, was part of a plan. From miracle to miracle, to
hope, to redemption—God pieced together this story from beginning to end.
So what does this say about each of us?
First, God sees us. Even if we never receive a miracle baby, the story of these miracle babies is proof that we are seen, because their purpose wasn’t just for that time and that place, but rather for all people in all places—including each of us, today.
Second, miracle babies are part of a much bigger narrative than just the story of the mother who gives birth.
In other words, it’s not just about me and the fulfillment of my desires. These stories, combined with the overarching story in Scripture, tell me something essential about the character of God: He doesn’t forget.
He doesn’t forget what He’s doing.
He doesn’t forget us.
His plan from the very beginning has been to share life with us and He hasn’t forgotten.
So my desire to have and raise a family? He’s not going to forget that either. Whether the short term answer is yes or no, the long term answer is yes to redemption, yes to family, yes to being seen and known and loved.
Fact is, the Christmas story wouldn’t exist without the long years of waiting by women just like you and me.
Women whose arms were aching, whose prayers were endless, whose hearts felt desperate and hungry to carry life and family.
So as you curl up by the Christmas tree, or sit at church or with extended family, or walk the halls of your house alone–know this truth: your story is not just seen by God, it’s represented in the story of Jesus. He chose to carry the feelings and emotions you have into the greatest revelation of His presence that the world has ever seen.
He sees and He knows.
Merry Christmas, dear ones.