Happy 2022! I want to begin this year by encouraging you regarding your desire for marriage, knowing it is God’s will to help you find a suitable spouse. Having recently completed the Advent and Christmas season of the Church, the scripture readings reminded me of how the story of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, correlates to the struggle of prolonged singleness. In fact, Elizabeth was one of the Saints I prayed to as a single woman because I knew her struggle was relatable to my own.
I am sure you are familiar with the story of Elizabeth. She was married to a priest, Zechariah. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah when he was in the temple performing his priestly duties. Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. Zechariah did not believe this message; therefore, he lost his voice until the time John the Baptist was born and presented at the temple for the prescribed circumcision. When Zechariah concurred that the child’s name would be John, just as the Angel Gabriel foretold, he could speak again. (Luke 1:5-20; 57-66)
Zechariah struggled to believe the good news that the Angel Gabriel greeted him with because his wife, Elizabeth, had been barren her entire life and she was advanced in years. In other words, she was beyond childbearing age. Zechariah believed God could do a mighty work so long as it fit within the natural order. This news did not. How does a post-menopausal woman bear a child without the assistance of fertility doctors and treatments? Even when using NaPro TECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology) sanctioned by the Church, none of this existed until the recent past. Elizabeth, as well as others, had to rely on good old-fashioned miracles from God.
Elizabeth’s faith journey can encourage those of you who are experiencing prolonged singleness. I know because her testimony inspired me. Whether it is the desire to become a wife or a mother, the absence of a desired spouse or baby can be sorrowful. Let us look at what Elizabeth can tell us.
When Zechariah had completed his work at the temple, he went home and had relations with Elizabeth. “After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, ‘So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.” (Luke 1:24-25) I am sure that Elizabeth wondered why God did not answer her prayers for a baby as the years passed by. I thought the same thing myself as my twenties and thirties elapsed and I could not find a husband.
There is a time that does arrive when God sees fit to answer our prayers. For Elizabeth, the reason for the delayed pregnancy may be twofold. First, she was to mother the forerunner of the messiah foretold by the prophets. Her baby needed to be born at a certain time.
“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me” (Malachi 3:1)
“It was him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: ‘A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” (Matthew 3:3))
Also, Elizabeth’s late-life pregnancy served as a sign to the Mother of God that nothing is impossible for God, even a miraculous conception:
“But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’ And the angel said to her in reply, ‘The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1”34-37) (Emphasis added)
If God can bring about the incarnation (the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ with the Blessed Virgin Mary) and bring about the miraculous conception of his prophet, St. John the Baptist (though his mother suffered lifelong infertility and was now beyond the age of childbearing), then God can help you get married. This is because nothing is impossible for him. Absolutely nothing.
After Elizabeth gave birth to Saint John the Baptist, news spread to her neighbors and relatives. The report of her giving birth gave glory to God and demonstrated that he had been compassionate and kind to Elizabeth. “Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.” (Luke 1:58)
The appropriate response to a mighty work that God does for us is to share it with others and to praise God for having accomplished it. Also, the wonders that God does for us act as encouragement to other people.
“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the wonderful things you have done. I will sing with joy because of you. I will sing praise to you, Almighty God.” (Psalm 9:1-2)
“I will shout for joy as I play for you; with my whole being I will sing because you have saved me.” (Psalm 71:23)
In the age we live in, I dare say that having a baby is almost easier than getting married. Sex outside of marriage is commonplace, wherein society tends to discourage marriage and commitment. In addition, there are variables which have limited the opportunities for marriage as the dating landscape has changed. Medical technology has made it possible for conception apart from the marital bond and act. But this is not God’s way.
For those of you who are committed to doing God’s will and living by his precepts, the scriptures offer encouragement. “Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to the LORD; trust him and he will act.” (Psalm 37:4-5). And remember, Elizabeth is someone you can look to for inspiration as you seek to do God’s will, trusting him for help as nothing is impossible for God.
Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2022