Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Barren" Women of the Bible Part 3 - Elisabeth

Part 3 of our Barren Women of the Bible series will focus on Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. She waited a long time to conceive a child, but I would say it was well worth the wait. John went on to pave the way for Jesus Christ's ministry. He forsake the easy life and became one of the most powerful prophets in Bible history.

Elisabeth's story is told in Luke 1. As with Sarah's story, Elisabeth's journey opens with information about her husband Zacharias who was a priest . He's described as blameless and righteous. I can't overemphasize the impact a man of God can have in the pregnancy journey! Remember Abraham? He was blessed as the father of nations because God knew he would train his children in God's word!

Anyway, Zacharias went to do his job in the temple when an angel suddenly appeared (Zacharias was freaked out of course!) and said: "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth." (Luke 1:13)

Let's stop there a moment. As a priest - a man of God - who had an angel suddenly appear and give him the news of a lifetime "your prayer is heard ... you'll have a son and shall have joy and gladness" ... once he got over the shock, I imagine a lot of praising and dancing would have been happening - on the spot. What he actually said was:

How do I know this is true? I'm old and so is my wife ...

Don't think Zacharias didn't know the story of Abraham and Sarah. But sometimes what is happening in this physical realm feels so real, so debilitating that we mistakenly believe our obstacle is too big for God. These examples show that even great men and women of faith wrestle with this, but we learn from our examples that if we hang in there with God instead of hanging on to our doubt and despair, we are rewarded. He is the same God!

Back to the story ...

The angel, Gabriel puffs out his chest and pretty much tells Zacharias ... do you know what I was doing before I came before you? I was WITH GOD ALMIGHTY and HE sent me to tell you this wonderful news. Because of your unbelief, you won't be able to speak a word until it all comes to pass. It'll happen in due time.

Let's get a better understanding of the feelings that spawned his disbelief. Can you imagine the humiliation and hopelessness this couple felt? Here, he was a high-status person in the community, they served God faithfully, and yet they seemed cursed by their inability to have children. At that time, children not only added social status, but they were the parents' social security and their living legacy. How often do you think this couple was reminded that children were a blessing of the Lord? To not have them was devastating, but all hope was not lost.

After he finished his temple duties (the people were wondering what in the world took so long!) he went home and soon after Elisabeth conceived. She said, "God looked on me and took away my reproach among men." (Luke 1:25)

Using Elisabeth as one of our many examples, we learn that maternal age does not hinder God. We're also reminded that our unbelief might have a consequence, but it does not necessarily void the promised blessing. God understands our weaknesses and it is during those times that His strength shines through.

So, no matter what the situation .... no matter how hopeless and bleak a future with children seems, no matter how much is riding on our ability to conceive and carry to term ...

"With God NOTHING shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37)

Questions to consider:

  • What might be hindering your ability to cling to the unfading truth that NOTHING is impossible for God (not even your seemingly complicated situation)?
  • What is keeping you from turning these things over to the Lord?
  • Do you believe that it is possible to be a righteous faith-filled person and still have a hard time conceiving and/or carrying to term?
  • Should you feel like the worse person on earth because you sometimes doubt God? What can you do to strengthen your faith in God?
  • Is the inability to have children simply a curse from God or could it have a higher purpose? Seek God's wisdom through prayer to uncover YOUR purpose.
Read more about Zacharias, Elisabeth, John's birth and how it all relates to Mary and Jesus in Luke 1. It is such an inspiring story!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Occasionally I will post a quote about mothers that puts a knot in my throat ... here's one from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

"Even He that died for us upon the cross, in the last hour, in the unutterable agony of death, was mindful of His mother, as if to teach us that this holy love should be our last worldly thought-the last point of earth from which the soul should take its flight for heaven."
I imagine each of my three angels and wonder if I were the last thing on their minds when they died. Maybe they couldn't articulate it as well as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but was it me - the energy from my love, from my mother-ness that ushered them from breath to whatever comes next? I wonder if it was like a passing of the baton between me and the Holy Spirit, who ultimately escorted my precious cargo to their final home.
When it is my time to leave this earthly vessel, and if my mother does not head Home before me, I wonder if my thoughts will be with her, as Jesus' were on his mother? Or maybe I'll think of my husband or children. I don't know ... but one thing I do know is this, it is my mission to ensure I live this life in a manner that will allow me to see my angels again in Heaven.
For eternity.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Barren" Women of the Bible Part 2 - Sarai/Sarah

Part 2 of our Barren Women of the Bible series will focus on Sarai whose name was changed to Sarah after God established His covenant with her husband, Abraham, and their descendants. Sarai/Sarah's story is found in Genesis, although chapters 16-21 focus on her infertility. Mentions of Sarah are made throughout the Bible.

Sarai is a well-known woman in the Bible. She is often referred to as the mother of our faith because God's covenant was established with her and Abraham. Sarai was very beautiful. She was so alluring that when the couple travelled, Abraham would tell people she was his sister (technically, she was his half-sister) so that he wouldn't be killed over her. As a result, on separate occasions, two kings took her with the intent of adding her as one of their wives. Of course, those kingdoms were plagued and cursed until they let Miss Sarah head back to her hubby. Notably, all the women in one of those kingdoms could not conceive because Sarai had been taken by that king (Read about King Abimelech in Gen. 20).

Now it is important to note that the first prayer that went up regarding this couple's childlessness comes from Abraham (Gen. 15:2-6), not Sarah. Men - our husbands - have the power to get a prayer through that will bless us and future generations. We also know Abraham was a godly man willing to do the will of God, so that likely worked in his favor. Back to Sarah ...

The Bible says, the Lord closed Sarah's womb. We really do not know why God did this, but there was no reason to think it was a punishment. I imagine there were many years of suffering, grief, and frustration, which is why PERHAPS Sarah took matters into her own hands even after God promised Abraham a son.

Sarah asked Abraham to take her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, as a wife, so that she could bear a son for the couple. He agreed. After Hagar had a son, angels of the Lord came to Abraham's tent. They appeared to be just strangers passing by, but Abraham (not knowing they were angels) showed great hospitality. He begged them to stay and rest before continuing their journey, he killed the fattest calf he could find and asked Sarai to bake her special bread.

Soon enough, the angels/strangers prophesied that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. Sarah did an internal laugh of disbelief (she was inside the tent listening to their conversation). She probably thought, "yeah right. I'm in my 90's and I can't imagine having relations with my husband let alone carrying a baby to term!" Sarah quickly believed the prophesy when the Lord revealed her secret doubts to Abraham.

Okay, so Abraham gets the biggest news of his life ... he will have an heir ... his fortune won't go to his top servant after all! As a matter of fact, he'll have more offspring than he could ever even count! I'm sure Abe was excited, but he wasn't so into himself that he didn't stop to intercede for those living in a neighboring city that the angels/strangers were sent to destroy!

Interesting things about Abe and Sarah:

God didn't require Sarah nor Abraham to be perfect before they received His blessing. They still doubted, lied, and did some pretty dastardly things. Sarah had even kicked Hagar and Ishmael out of the family home once she became a mom. Let's not judge, but rather learn from this couple's lives.

So, although they behaved like humans (don't we all?) they were hospitable, loved the Lord and were obedient to God (Read about Abraham's ultimate test in Gen. 22). Further, God knew Abraham would raise his family to love and obey the Lord as well! (see verse below)

They were hospitable. Abraham's prayers got results. Abraham interceded for others. He had selfless qualities.

Key verses:

The following scriptures stood out for me, I've included my reasons why below.

When I felt discouraged about what the doctors were saying about me carrying a child to term, I thought of what God said of himself ... if he did it for her, why not, me?

"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. (Gen. 18:14)

I understand that being committed to raising godly children works in our favor!

The Lord spoke to Abraham saying, "For I know [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; and the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." (Gen. 18:19)

This passage fills me with such hope ... I can almost hear myself bubbling over with such joy as I celebrate the blessings God will give.

After Sarah had her son, Isaac, she said, "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." (Gen. 21:6)

Think about this:

  • Do you see what Abraham and Sarah had in common with the Shunammite woman we discussed in Part One?
  • Based on your reading of Sarah/Abraham's story, list reasons why you believe perfect faith is a requirement to receive the desires of your heart?
  • What are some things Sarah did that one would be wise not to imitate?
  • Why is your situation not as fixable as Sarah's? Do you believe that some things are just too hard for God?
  • What does the phrase "let go and let God" mean to you? How can you apply that to your situation?
  • Despite what you may have heard others say, do you believe that God can close a person's womb? Can it sometimes be for a reason unknown to man? Do you believe that which He has closed, He can open?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You are still a Mother

It is Mother's Day and maybe you don't feel like a mother. Maybe family and friends don't acknowledge your mother status, but I do. I know how it feels to have "angels" in Heaven, but no baby on earth. I remember the intense loneliness .... I remember the burden that Mother's Day brought. It seemed another reminder of what was missing in my life.

I used to avoid church on MD. If I did go I would sit with clenched teeth hoping and praying they wouldn't ask all the mothers to stand. I almost felt like an imposter if I stood up, but a betrayer if I remained seated. I usually ran to the bathroom instead of choosing between the impossible.

So, ladies on this Mother's Day 2008, I pay tribute to you ...

the mother with no living children,

the woman who has fought for motherhood, but has been unable to conceive,

the mom who has a baby on her hip, one in her belly and one forever in her heart,

and the mom who has several in Heaven, while wondering about the survival of the one in the womb ...

This day is for you. You ARE a mother.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"Barren" Women of the Bible Part 1 - the Shunammite Woman

The Shunammite Woman
2 Kings 4:8-17

The Shunammite woman is described as a great woman who opened her home to the prophet Elisha. She did not know who he was, but saw him walking through town one day and invited him to eat at the family home. He would visit the area often and each time, she'd invite him to stay with her husband and she. One day she told her husband that she suspected this was a great and holy man of God and that they should take their hospitality a step further. She set up a room with a cot so that Elisha would be more comfortable during his visits.

So let's stop here and think about this great woman's character so far. She is hospitable and warm toward strangers, and she is wise enough to recognize someone who walks with God. She also shows reverence toward those who walk with God.

Because of her character Elisha decided to bless the Shunammite woman. He asked her what she wanted ... did she want him to put in a good word with the king or even the commander of the Army? What could he do to show his appreciation? She modestly answers,"thank you, but what I have is sufficient." Elisha then asks his servant what he could give this kindly woman. The servant says that the woman is married to an old man and the couple have no children.

Elisha then told the woman that at this same time next year, she'll be holding her son. She was shocked and said, "as a man of God PLEASE don't lie to me like that!" But the prophesy was true. Next year she was holding her little man.

So not only was the woman hospitable and wise, she was modest and content with what she had. She reverenced those deserving and she was not a self-seeking person. And when she did something for somebody, she went all out. But the story does not end here.

The child grew older, but one day he was out in the field with his father when he started screaming, "my head, my head!" Perhaps he had heat stroke or an aneurysm - we don't know. All we know is that the child was taken to his mother where he sat on her lap and died in her arms around noon. And what did the woman do?

She immediately laid him on Elisha's cot and hopped on a donkey trotting as fast as it would go to find the man of God. Elisha saw her coming and sent his servant to find out how she and her family were faring. Her response? "It is well." When she got to the prophet she fell at his feet with a bitter and vexed spirit. She pretty much said, "you came to me with this child ... I didn't ask you for him, so why did you give him, make me love him then let him die?" Needless to say Elisha was quick to work a miracle for this family.

Read verses 29 - 36 to find out exactly how Elisha brought the child back to life (it's quite interesting), but when he told the woman to get her son ... she fell at Elisha's feet, bowed to the ground in gratitude, grabbed her child and left with him.

Now think about the following:

  • I often hear people say that miracles were only to draw people to God, but this is a situation where a man of God awarded a miracle as a kind of thank you gift. Is it possible that there are holy people today who can authorize miracles? What biblical evidence supports your response? (Do some research, don't just rest on old assumptions!)

  • How would you react if someone prophesied that you would have a child despite your medical history? (If someone did prophesy and your baby did not survive, does that mean it's the end of the road for you? Find out what happens in these situations) What does your response say about your ability to believe in the unseen?

  • How did you react after your child died? How is it different from the Shunammite woman's example? The woman felt justified in asking the prophet "why" ... but she did not lose faith in his ability to do what was right in his sight. What has your approach been when talking to God? (i.e "My way or the highway" or "let Your will be done. I trust You.")

  • Do you think the Shunammite woman's character had anything to do with God opening her womb? How does your character match or contrast those of the Shunamite woman? What areas do you need to develop?

  • Thinking about the Shunammite woman's example is there something you can do today to invite a miracle into your life?

I firmly believe that the stories in the Bible provide an example for how we should and shouldn't behave as believers. This woman provides an excellent example of warmth, grace, wisdom, poise and faith. When tragedy hit, she hurt (evidenced by falling at the prophet's feet with a bitter and vexed soul ... previously she only spoke to Elisha through his servant and she maintained a reverent distance from the man of God) and even questioned the fairness of it all. But she did not become ugly and hateful. She did not lose faith. Neither should we.

Feel free to share your thoughts, questions and responses in the comments section.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sense of Urgency

I feel a growing sense of urgency to get busy writing this blog again. I need to share with you the examples God provided to women just like me and you. Women who want children so bad, but motherhood is stolen through infertility, miscarriage, prematurity or infant death.

There are many women today just barely clinging to their faith after experiencing the death of a baby or due to the inability to conceive. We're not alone. There is a long list of godly women who waited years for a baby and I will spend the next several months exploring the following:

1. Who are these "barren" women of the Bible?
2. How long did it take to conceive?
3. What steps did they take to make it happen?
4. Was their inability to conceive punishment for something they did wrong?
5. How did women bare children for their husbands if they were "barren"?

I'll add to these topics as the Lord leads. I pray you'll find truth, but most importantly you'll be inspired and strengthened by the Word of God.


Monday, February 18, 2008

It Could Have Been Me

I've spent many a day, many a year mourning the loss of our babies. As I read the following story, I had a revelation ... it could have been me who died. I bled myself unconscious on at least two occasions, but God spared me. Not the baby.

Here's a story about a mom who tried protecting her baby, but didn't live to tell about it. When grieving, it is SO hard to find something to feel grateful about, but try this one on: it could have been you who died. Even if you can't say "thank you, God," I bet your husband can.

Miracle baby who survived tornado gets nickname

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seeing Through A Glass Darkly

Here is an article I found to be enlightening. You may or may not be able to understand or accept the message. It certainly takes humility, spiritual maturity and maybe some distance from your grief in order to internalize what is written here. Read it. Squirrel it away. Reflect on it. Share your thoughts.


Twenty-two years ago a wonderful, sweet, darling two-year-old boy, whom I loved, came down with a fever. Within 24 hours he was dead.

During the days after his death, while the family grieved, I kept his baby brother. I remember staring at my sweet Rebekah and feeling a sense of relief that it was not she who was taken.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” What I am about to say will be hard for many of you to understand, but as an older woman I feel compelled to speak.

Death is not the worst enemy. When I was a young mother, this truth was simply beyond comprehension. To lose a child was my worst fear. I avoided long bridges because I was afraid I could not save all my children if the car plunged into the water. I carefully chose cars by the ease of opening the safety buckles and doors—just in case. I studied medications, familiarizing myself with potential problems and learning how to use alternative medicines. My natural instinct to protect my children, regardless of the cost, was in full operation. God gave me that instinct.

Along the way, other children whom I knew died, and I continued to cling to my children, trying to guard their safety. Yet how frail my efforts would have been if death had come calling.

When you are young and raising a family, death seems to be the ultimate loss. The grief is a pain you can only know first hand. When we are young, we see through a glass darkly. As we grow older, life is not as big as we thought it was when it was all before us. Life in this flesh is quite temporary. I am not so old yet. Life is still precious. Death is still the enemy. I continue to cling to life, not only my own, but to that of those I love. Yet, my clinging has changed. Somewhere over the passing years I realized death was not the worst enemy. Grief over death stopped being the worst grief. I can now see just a tiny bit clearer through the dark glass.

Eternity is so eternal, so terribly final, so completely forever. Death is not final. By the grace of God, it is not without hope. There is something yet beyond. Temporarily saying goodbye, even to a child, is still temporary. There will be a glad tomorrow. At the parting of death it is our own loss we grieve, not the child’s, who has gone into the presence of God. But there is a loss into the darkness of eternity that is far more than the loss of temporary separation.

The older you get, the more you see the real enemy; you learn to recognize the real grief. It is not a temporary parting that brings apprehension, but knowledge of certain and eternal judgment awaiting your child. The pain of that rebellious child seeking a life of destruction is a thousand times more grievous than losing a baby. That mother I spoke of earlier, the one who lost her baby, suffered another, far greater loss years later. She lost her second son to the devil.

Looking back, she now admits it was her own selfish grief and bitterness. It stole her joy, leaving her without a smile to nurture her living son. I heard her say 14 years after the death of her son, “It would have been easier to have also lost this one to death as a baby than to see what has become of him now.”

I remember when I carried my first child in my womb; I had waited for 3 years, and when I finally got pregnant I was the happiest person I had ever known. One day, as I practiced childbirth relaxation, God spoke to me. I believe He told me to give the child I was carrying to Him. I began to cry and beg God not to take the baby, all afternoon I wrestled with my own feelings and what I believed God wanted of me. Finally, in great grief I surrendered the child to God. As the days passed, I was totally thrilled and amazed that nothing happened. When the baby was born strong and healthy, I knew God had something bigger than what I had feared.

Still, I saw through a glass darkly. Life and death were the only two “biggies” in my life.

Thereafter, as each child was conceived, I eagerly gave it to God. Throughout their childhood I had instincts just like every other mother. I would protect my children at any cost. Instinct, although an overwhelming feeling, is just instinct. Even mother animals will die protecting their young. Oh, mother, if we as young mothers could just get a vision of something greater than instinct for our children, and begin to feel just as urgently for their souls, how different it would make us. Things that appear as tragedies are not so tragic. If as young mothers we could have eternity in our eyes. Older mothers, God-fearing mothers see more clearly. Whether it is age or spiritual maturity, I don’t know—maybe both—but it is not for their lives we fear; it for their souls. We are still stirred to pray for their safety and health, but our consuming prayer is that they overcome all the snares and diversions this evil world can offer. Where once a mother begged God's protection for her child, she now begs Divine intervention at any cost (including life or limb). No, death is not your greatest enemy. Death brings a temporary sadness, a time of great loneliness, but in Christ there is always hope. Your greatest enemies are those vying for your child's soul.

People often ask me how I could ever let my daughter Rebekah go to the mountains of Papua New Guinea. What they don't understand is that I let Rebekah go years before when she was still in my womb. Yes, I have fears, but there is great hope. There is great joy. There is wonderful peace in knowing this is only temporary. I shall see her in a few months, or maybe in a few years, but most assuredly I will be with her again. There is no grief, there is no pain, there is only a glad tomorrow. Yes, I cry when she leaves, and I wander from room to room for a few weeks. When there is word she will return I clean and clean, and buy her clothes and talk and cry some more.

But, mother, what would it be like if she were to disappear from home, leaving in anger and rebellion? If I knew she left with a man I didn't like or respect. Weeks pass and there is no word, there is no hope. Grief? That is real grief. You think because they are grown you cease to feel?

Death is such a simple thing compared to this grief. You lose a child to death, and everyone understands your sorrow and shares your pain. But lose a child to Satan's grip and you are an island alone, buffeted on every side with such turmoil, such pain, sleepless nights, exhausted prayer, and hopelessness. Grief? Only the older mother understands eternal grief. Only the older mother can look in the face of a young mother and say, train your children to obey, raise them to love God, be real in the home, so much depends on it.

When you are a young mother raising a family, it is so easy to care about your own feelings, your own hurts, your little fuss with your husband. Oh, but Mother, there is coming a day when your own feelings, hurts, and fusses will seem so immaterial, so silly. It is that atmosphere emanating from your relationship to your husband, your attitude and responses that help decide your baby's future in eternity. It is not your child training techniques; it is who you are today. It is how you respond to life's ups and downs and to life's grief and joy. It is how you honor your husband, thus how you honor God.

We go through life so protective of our children’s bodies. Let us as mothers early look to the protection of their souls. The enemy is not death. The enemy is not outside, lurking to get in; the enemy is a mother’s heart dedicated to a mother’s feelings. It is our own selfishness, our own anger, our own bitterness, and our own disappointments. The enemy is Mother, doing what is right in her own eyes instead of obeying God. God, grant us the wisdom to get beyond instinct to the wisdom of true love. God, grant us hearts to see, to feel, and to live with eternity in our eyes.

“The aged women likewise, that…they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children (Titus 2: 3-4).”

Article written by Debi Pearl, copyright by No Greater Joy, 1000 Pearl Road, Pleasantville, TN 37033. Subscribe to their free magazine or read articles about child training, relationships and more at