Three Barren Women Who
Would Have Settled for Less
When we express our heart's desire to the Lord, we often
fail to pray according to the Lord's plan and intent for us.
His desire toward us is far greater than we can contemplate.
This is illustrated in Scripture through the lives of three
women; Elizabeth, the oath of God; Hannah, the grace of God;
and Sarah, a princess.
Elizabeth and Zachariah had no child, and being advanced
in years, the reproach of Elizabeth's barrenness lay heavy
upon them. But they were righteous, walking blamelessly in
all the ways of the Lord. In spite of their circumstances,
they were not cast down, but chose to trust.
After all earthly ability had long since faded from Elizabeth's
life and all lesser dreams had drained away, God intervened.
Her season and the Lord's timing met. The heavenly broke in
upon the natural, and an angel of the Lord declared, "Fear
not ... for thy prayer is heard; ...Elizabeth shall bear ...
a son ... and you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall
rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of
the Lord" Luke 1:13-15a. He who would come forth through
her would make ready a people for the Lord.
In their desire to lift this reproach of barrenness, they
might have settled for far less than that which God intended
both for them, and for His people, Israel.
In the life of Hannah we see a woman who was blessed and
greatly loved by her husband. Yet to all outward appearances,
Hannah, as a woman, was considered a failure because the Lord
had purposely shut her womb. This became a source of constant
torment and frustration. Her distress became a consuming passion
and she cried out to the Lord for fulfillment.
But the Lord's desire toward her exceeded her passionate
cry. In the midst of her torment and affliction, God was purging
her motives and enlarging her heart, bringing them into alignment
with those of the Eternal Lover of her soul. As Hannah prayed
and wept in bitterness of soul, her prayer became prophetic
and she vowed a vow. Her ardent desire became one with the
Lord's as she surrendered to Him the son who was born of this
Hannah sang in exaltation, "My heart rejoiceth in the
LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged
over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There
is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither
is there any rock like our God" I Samuel 2:1-2.
She had found the true source of her joy to be the Lord Himself,
rather than in what He is able to give. God did a work in
Hannah that not only affected her, but reached beyond her
to all God's people. She might have settled for far less,
but the Lord gave her far more than her highest dream.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham had also been barren. In her perplexity,
she devised her own plan. By using carnal means, she satisfied
her longing, not recognizing that God had far greater and
higher plan. But Sarah soon found her plan having the reverse
effect of what she expected. Bitterness replaced consolation.
When she realized her wrong, she quickly repented, told Abraham
she had wronged him, and asked for God's judgment.
In the midst of Sarah's desert-like barrenness, God enlarged
her capacity and changed her name, her very nature. He called
her Princess, revealing His tender mercy for her, and His
high calling upon her life.
"Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in
age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women"
Gen 18:11. This is always God's order. After Sarah had come
to the end of her own ability, she heard the word of the Lord
concerning her. And when she heard, she laughed at that which
was beyond her hope. After much vexation, after much testing
under the skillful hand of her Maker, her faith was perfected.
"Sarah received strength to conceive seed when she was
past age because she judged Him faithful who had promised"
Sarah had finally allowed the Lord to lift her beyond her
natural capacity into the realm of the supernatural. In the
boldness and strength imparted to her in this high realm of
relationship, Sarah declared that the son, born through the
conniving of her old nature, would not be heir with the son
of promise. That which results from the flesh can never coexist
with that which is truly spiritual.
Each of these three women would no doubt have settled for
something less than God's best. Settling for less may have
earned status in the eyes of man, but would have tragically
brought them out from under the mighty hand of God.
His plan for our lives is far beyond what we would ask or
think. The Lord desires fruit from our lives, far more than
we. His zeal for His temple, which temple we are, is greater
than our zeal will ever be. It is crucial to choose between
what is of man, and what is of God.
As we submit to Him in our present circumstances, we will
experience the wonder of His love, even as these three women
did. These barren ones experienced the joy of the Lord while
on this earth. Elizabeth proclaimed to Mary the birth of the
Messiah. Hannah sang "My mouth is enlarged over my enemies
because I rejoice in God my Savior". Sarah gave birth
to laughter, Isaac. The world is not worthy of these.
The Lord is looking for those to whom He can say in this
day, "Sing, O barren, thou that did not bear; break forth
into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with
child: for more are the children of the desolate ..."