When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.” (Luke 1:23–25 NLT)
With few exceptions, the women we read about in the Scriptures were limited in their ability to achieve positions of authority outside the home. Often they were valued for their ability to birth and raise children more than for any other role they held in society. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” It would be natural for a woman in Elizabeth’s position to consider such passages and reflect that her lack of children was some sort of punishment; she certainly viewed it as an affliction that caused suffering and disgrace.
From our vantage point two thousand years after the fact, it is easy to say she was not barren as a punishment but so that God’s glory could shine all the brighter in John’s arrival. Yet even we can feel the palpable joy Elizabeth felt over her pregnancy. God used her disgrace and subsequent blessing to great effect, letting the Israelites know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—all of whom had wives that were barren until God opened their wombs—was on the move. When looking at the hardships in your own life, are you more prone to looking at the temporal view, only seeing things from a temporary, earthly perspective, or do you ask God to give you Spirit-filled eyes to see beyond your immediate circumstances?