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From Barren to Birth

From barren to birth – this is one of God’s specialties.

Do you ever feel barren? Like your life is not really producing anything? That you aren’t really alive, just going through the motions? The problem isn’t new, nor is the solution.

Abraham, a leading figure in three major world religions, became the father of a great nation only because he had a son. That’s not normally surprising, except in this case, he and his wife Sarah were without offspring well beyond normal child-bearing years. (He was 100 and she was 90.) They both laughed when God told them to paint the nursery.

Yet, “the Lord was gracious to Sarah . . . the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him” (Genesis 21:1-2). And the Jewish nation was born.

Remember the mighty man Samson? He almost didn’t exist. His mother was “sterile and remained childless” (Judges 13:2). Childless, that is, until God replaced barrenness with birth.

And then there was Hannah of whom it was said, “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6). Her desperate prayers for a child were answered by the birth of Samuel who became a great prophet and for whom two books of the Bible are named.

More closely related to this season are the parents of John, Zechariah and Elizabeth who “had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years . . . But the angel said . . . Elizabeth became pregnant . . . she gave birth to a son” (Luke 1:7, 13, 24, 57).

And, then, of course, there is Mary who had no child, not because she was unable, but because she was unmarried and a virgin. Even here, God did the “impossible” and created life where that was none. It is what he does.

This Christmas, amid all the noise and busyness, pause to remember that the birth of Jesus is a reminder that no situation in life is so barren that God cannot birth new life into it – not even yours. I hope that thought helps you to have a very merry Christmas.

This is the irrational season

When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason

There'd have been no room for the child.

- Madeleine L'Engle


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