I want to tell you a story from a few years back, during a time when I was waiting for God’s miracle to happen in my life. I was believing in God’s promise to give my husband and I children even though I was struggling to get pregnant. (You can watch our testimony on YouTube.)
During all that time, God put a very close friend next to me, my great friend and sister-in- law, Geraldine. She was the first to learn we had started trying for a baby, and she was the one who was always there, ready to listen to me and share in the ups and downs of the wait. We laughed together and imagined what this baby would be like. We celebrated every word from God about this future baby. We cried together when the waiting seemed unbearable, when it seemed like everyone else but me was celebrating and hosting baby showers, and when a PCOS diagnosis arrived. We would pray together and she would often remind me of God’s promises to me and strengthen me in the Lord. She was and still is my faithful, godly friend, always there and ready for whatever I needed.
One afternoon she came over to my house for a cup of coffee as she would often do, but this time she came in with a little gift and she seemed a little nervous. As we sat down she started saying how precious our friendship was to her, how she felt God had joined us together for that time, and that she was praying that I would not be mad at her for what she was about to tell me. She was pregnant! The news felt like a slap in my face.
While Geraldine was still talking, I had a split-second conversation with the Holy Spirit in my heart. “What? God, is this a joke on me? I’ve been asking you for a baby for so long and she gets a baby first? Not fair on me.” I felt the Holy Spirit say to me: “She is not stealing anything from you. That is not your baby; it is hers. What I promised you still stands and my time is not your time. Now, will you celebrate with her?”
Geraldine had brought me a baby grow to bless me and declare that I would become pregnant soon. I decided then to die to my pride and to what I thought or felt was fair, and live through the word, joy and strength of the Holy Spirit. So we both blessed each other and hugged as we cried with joy for this new baby, in hope for my baby and also a little sadness that I was still waiting. In this precious moment, we truly experienced and lived out what Romans 12:15-16 says: “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”
Then Geraldine said something that has not only proven to be prophetic and actually happen, but has really taught me something about God. She said, “We will be just like Mary and Elizabeth…”
Firstly, let me tell you a little about these women and how the Holy Spirit has spoken to me time and time again through their relationship. You will find their full story in Luke 1. Mary and Elizabeth were relatives. Mary was young and engaged to be married. Elizabeth was an older lady who had never been able to have children. In Mary’s story, she was visited by the angel Gabriel who gave her the news that she would become pregnant with the saviour of the world, Jesus. The angel also told her that her cousin Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant! So Mary went to visit her cousin. When she arrived at Elizabeth’s house, Mary greeted her cousin and Elizabeth and her baby were filed with the Holy Spirit. Watch what happens next: “Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? (…) You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” (Luke 1:42-45)
Now, allow me to share a little of my imagination with you. Considering the culture of the time, we might imagine that Elizabeth’s attitude towards Mary would have been to emphasise their age difference, and for Elizabeth as Mary’s elder relative, to teach her about pregnancy and the responsibilities of being a mother. Equally, I could imagine Elizabeth despising Mary for upstaging her moment of long-awaited joy, or for the shame of Mary’s pre-marital pregnancy, or for receiving a child she had never asked, prayer or cried out to God for after years of infertility. And didn’t Mary realise just how important Elizabeth’s child was going to be? “He would be great in the eyes of the Lord!” (Luke 1:15) And for those of you who know the story, Elizabeth’s child would become known as John the Baptist.
But she did none of these things. Instead, she and her unborn baby were filled with the Holy Spirit and she blessed Mary. She blessed Mary’s child. She focused on Jesus being revealed in Mary’s life. She honoured Mary and praised her for believing in God. No matter how great the promise God had over her son or how long she had waited for a miracle, she blessed Mary instead of bragging about herself. And more importantly she focused on Jesus and God’s ultimate plan and promise to save humanity.
In this story, I can see aspects of myself in Mary, but I have learned so much from Elizabeth and how to step out as she did, to be happy for another when they have received without asking that for which you longed for. This amazing woman demonstrates this kind of love: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” (Romans 12:9-10 – ESV)
Finally, I told you that what Geraldine said was prophetic. And it was. We truly did become like Mary and Elizabeth, because when Geraldine was 6 months pregnant, I conceived! Not only was God true to his promise, but after all the waiting, we got to carry our children together, just as Geraldine prophesied. And now we have the joy of being mothers together, to two daughters each!
So, my encouragement to you is that God is absolutely faithful to the promises that he makes to you. So while you wait and rest on this truth, be filled continuously with the Holy Spirit so that you may honour and bless others around you, and through that Jesus will have all the glory. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21)