Christmas is about hope, but this Christmas tale starts with two stories of infertile couples that had lost hope.
The first is Zacharias, a high priest in Israel.
Luke 1:7 “And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.”
When the Angel Gabriel announces that Elisabeth will conceive and bear them a son, Zacharias does not believe him and asks the Angel to prove it to him by showing him a sign from Heaven.
Zacharias’ sorrow and ultimate resignation to a life without children must have been deep indeed because, as a teacher in Israel, he knew well the story of Abraham and Sarah and how God had promised them a son too.
Sarah was so beyond hoping for a child that when she overheard the angel promise Abraham that she would bear them a child she laughed within herself:
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
I am sure that her laugh was not of mirth, but a way to control the grief of one who had hoped for so long that she could no longer hope.
I am sure that Zacharias, as a devout high priest in Israel, believed that God blessed Father Abraham and Sarah with a son in their old age. What he did not believe is that God would bother to bless him and Elizabeth in the same way.
Seemingly to answer this, the story goes on to tell of the angel’s visit to Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of the Son of God. Mary does not doubt, perhaps because she had not yet faced years of heartache and sorrow, but instead just wonders, “How shall this be…?” to which the angel gives the exact same answer that was given to Abraham and Sarah thousands of years earlier.
Luke 1: 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Genesis 18: 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD?
Everyone that comes into my office wanting a child still has hope, usually despite years of disappointment. A minority of them, after a failed attempt, lose hope.
What can I do for them? In the end it is not up to me.
I have found that the key to hope in this life is to hang on through the darkness, and in the morning of a new day, think of something else to try.
Family is about love and caring – not biology. With that definition, nothing is impossible.