When I read these verses, my jaw tensed in irritation. The story about the miracle of an older woman getting pregnant long after she thought possible will resonate with the 21st -century women who benefit from today’s fertility technology. And yet, this line—blessed is she who believed (v. 45)—made me close my computer and wonder whether I’d have anything devotional to write. In a literal sense, the passage suggests that the simple act of believing in God’s ability to do something will make it so. It sounds like a lie, and not a very convincing one. It’s also a cruel message to any believer who finds her bank account depleted after the fourth failed round of IVF.
But what if there is a less literal way to read these verses? Could it be that putting your faith in God may not give you the baby you longed for, but may show you how to create life in a different way?
Before I married, the Episcopal priest who did our pre-marital counseling asked if we would choose to get married if we knew we couldn’t have children. He thought it was important that the answer was “Yes.” For a marriage to survive, he said, it had to be an end unto itself.
Marriage can be life-giving even when it doesn’t result in children. Married couples generate life in the community they create around them—in acts as simple as inviting friends to dinner or mentoring younger couples. I’ve seen examples of this, like my high school English teacher and his wife who were the first couple to show me a living example of a happy marriage. Or my cousin and her husband, whose openness about the pedestrian disagreements in marriage—like whether you wipe the counter with a paper towel or a dishcloth—helped me see how hard it can be to build a new family with the baggage we bring from our families of origin. Their insights make it easier to manage my own marriage and see the many ways God works to create life in us.
How does faith lead me to a fulfilling life?
God, show me how to create my life with you. Amen.