Paradoxical Parenthood—Life Application for December 18, 2016

December 11, 2016 No Comments »
Paradoxical Parenthood—Life Application for December 18, 2016

By David Faust

faustYear after year they tried to have a baby, but with zero results. They smiled and offered congratulations when other couples announced a pregnancy, but in private they felt discouraged because they were unable to conceive.

Their faith was strong though. In fact, their day-to-day routine revolved around the Lord and his work. The things they could control, they brought into good order under the will of God. But infertility was something they couldn’t control, and as the childless years turned into decades, the elusive goal of parenthood grew dimmer.

Big Plans

They wondered, Why does it seem so easy for other couples to have a baby? Why does God grant this blessing to those with far less to offer than we do—to the immature and the faithless—or even to couples who don’t want children in the first place?

It was difficult to push the dream out of their minds. Their hair began to gray. Friends their age became grand-parents and acquaintances unwittingly made insensitive comments like, “So are your children grown up now?”

They thought about women in the Old Testament who experienced surprising pregnancies. Sarah had Isaac; Hannah had Samuel. God answered their prayers; why wasn’t he listening now? They remembered David’s words in the Psalms about how babies are woven together in their mothers’ wombs. God does it every day. Why wouldn’t he do it for them?

Then one day the husband went to work, and an angel appeared to him and announced, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John” (Luke 1:13).

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s little family was in the middle of something big. On a grand scale God was unfolding his eternal plan. Their baby would be the harbinger of a new day, the voice crying in the wilderness calling God’s people to repentance and baptism, pointing them to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Little Delights

While God unfolded his purpose for the world, on a smaller scale he was doing something tender and gracious for Elizabeth and her husband. Gabriel told Zechariah that their son would be “a joy and delight” to them (v. 14). The same baby who came to fulfill God’s eternal plan would bring laughter to his parents as they bounced him on their knee and sang him to sleep at night.

What about all of the couples who never get to experience those little delights? What about the ones who want a baby just as badly and pray just as hard, but no angel ever shows up and no pregnancy ever occurs? What about the parents whose children struggle and suffer through life? What sorrows did Zechariah and Elizabeth experience as their son preached in the desert, walking a rocky road because of God’s call in his life? Did they live long enough to see Herod imprison and behead their son?

Such questions have no easy answers. Parenthood opens the door to exquisite blessings—and paradoxically, to unspeakable pain. It compels us to rely on God even when his ways surpass our understanding. At first Zechariah found Heaven’s promises hard to believe, but after months of silent reflection he learned to trust the Father who hears and cares, who gives and takes away.

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Dec. 12


Exodus 40:12-25

Aaron and Sons, a Perpetual Priesthood

Dec. 13


Exodus 30:1-10

Tending the Altar of Incense

Dec. 14


Acts 1:21-26

Chosen by Lot to Serve

Dec. 15


Luke 1:5-7

Zechariah and Elizabeth Are Childless

Dec. 16


Luke 1:57-66

His Name Is John

Dec. 17


John 1:19-23

Testimony of John the Baptist

Dec. 18


Luke 1:8-20

Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

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