While my husband was checking out at Sam’s this afternoon, I took a seat in the snack area nearby. And it was there that it captured me….a tiny, delicately sculpted foot with dimples and miniature toes….a perfect work of art. I always marvel at that fresh beauty of a baby’s little fingers and toes, appearing almost too perfect to be real…like a masterpiece of purest wax.
This tiny, kicking foot was kissed and cuddled by an adorable little girl of about four, no doubt sister to whom I later saw was a baby boy of a few months, peacefully nursing from his bottle. And, I didn’t cry. Those of you who know my story might have expected that.
But not this time. As I watched the husband and father of this trio gather his family together, I was lost in thought over the wondrous power they possessed.
Do they ever think about such things….these life- bearers entrusted with clothing in flesh the very children of God? I know that we, the infertile, the barren, probe this mystery in breathless and unending fascination, turning it round and round, in wondrous contemplation.
But what of us? Are we forgotten, somehow cursed by God, disgraced and covered in shame as once believed not so long ago…and surprisingly, somewhat in our own day.
I think not. I think not, on this day when we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist, son of Zechariah and the once hopelessly barren Elizabeth.
And… there were so many others. So many women with “closed wombs” whom the Lord permitted to suffer the agony and disgrace of barrenness before blessing them with many of His most chosen servants.
Who can forget Sarah, who “laughed” because she was so old, but gave birth to Isaac a year later? And what of the beautiful Rebecca, wife of Isaac, who had to wait 45 years before conceiving Jacob and Esau?
“Give me children or I shall die,” wailed Rachel, wife of Jacob. And the Lord heard her cries and she brought forth Joseph and Benjamin.
Why were the wives of these great men of God, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all afflicted with such long periods of barrenness, before the Lord blessed them with sons through whom He would in turn raise up His people, Israel?
And then there was Hannah, who is remembered for her tears as she cried before the Lord for a child, and was answered and brought forth the great prophet Samuel.
Another barren woman….another great man of God conceived.
There is mystery here. There is emptiness filled to overflowing. There is agony and shame brought to glory.
Elizabeth knew the glory, as her once barren womb was filled with the Holy Spirit rushing upon her child of whom Jesus later said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist.”
But what of us? What of those women who, unlike our sisters above, will never have fruitful wombs? Or those who have given birth, but who yearn for more children? Has God forgotten us?
God never changes. He is the same God Who heard the cries of Rachel and saw the tears of Hannah….and He has seen our tears, and heard our cries.
I do not pretend to know Why. But it is enough to know that He Hears.
God Who IS Life and is the Giver of all life must weep when He lays this particular Cross on His daughters, created to give life too. We must trust in His tenderness, His goodness, His Love.
We can be sure that there is nothing He will allow us to suffer that we won’t rejoice over one day… when we understand.
Meanwhile, let us pray for those struggling with infertility. Let us pray for the unborn. Let us pray for couples who stifle their life-giving gifts. Let us pray for those who have miscarried or lost children in other ways. Let us pray for those who suffer anguish over past abortions.
And let us rejoice with those who are fruitful, and praise God for every precious life, and for every tiny hand and foot and baby smile.
He expects no less of us…..we who are called to bear the mystery of our barrenness into the Glory of Eternal LIFE….where the mystery will be revealed at last… in His Presence!
LORD, I bow before Your Perfect Will. It is enough to know that Your Love could find no better path for me than the one I tread. I walk it willingly into Your Loving Embrace. Glory and Praise to You forever, Most Holy Trinity!
Some helpful resources for those suffering from infertility:
http://blessedarethebarren.wordpress.com/ (An inactive blog, but with some beautiful, insightful articles by a Christian blogger bearing the cross of infertility)