Elizabeth’s Child

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Here is a story told from Elizabeth’s perspective, the woman in the Bible who gave birth to John the Baptist. I hope you enjoy it and that it blesses you.

I stood in the doorway, watching Zechariah on his knees praying to God. My heart fluttered within my chest. He was a good man.

He prayed often for a child, but I thought for certain our days to give birth were over. I was barren, and that was that. I hated it. I wanted a child so badly. I had begged to God for eighteen years to give me a child, but he did not seem to hear my prayers. The people thought little of me because of my barrenness. They scorned me.

Where was God now?

I watched my husband, his hands folded, his chest uptight. Oh, how I wished to have a different life! I tightened up my fist. This was wrong. So wrong. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. What was life without a child? Without the pure, innocent smile of a babe to watch over, a toddler to see crawling, then standing at the right time, then finally walking to the joy and surprise of everyone.

What was life without caring for the generations ahead of you having someone to carry on your husband’s name!

It was nothing. It was torment. It was everything that it should never have been. We were such good people. We hardly ever failed to keep God’s commandments. It didn’t make any sense. We had every right to bear our own son or daughter.

I wanted to be free. But I was trapped in a dungeon of barrenness. What life was there for a woman without a child?

***

I folded the masa over on the pan, letting it cook and sizzle. The sweet aroma filled the room. I wondered when Zechariah would return. He had been gone for the three days. He wasn’t usually at the temple for this long.

I flipped over the masa again to cook the other side.

The door creaked open.

I turned. My husband stood before me with his shaven chin and stark brown hair. He set his bag of belongings down on the earthen floor.

“Oh, Zechariah,” I said softly. I walked towards him, my heart melting.

He wrapped his arms around me.

I withdrew from his embrace. “Dinner’s ready,” I said feebly.

He sat down near the table but said nothing.

I served him the soup and masa I had prepared for myself, thinking he wouldn’t be home tonight.

He nodded toward me, prayed silently, and then proceeded to eat his dinner. I watched him eat. He continued his meal in sheer tranquility.

“Zechariah,” I said, “won’t you speak to me?”

He looked up at me, but refused to open his mouth. Why was he being so quiet?

***

Two weeks passed, and still Zechariah refused to speak to me. There must be something terribly wrong. But I had done nothing but love him. We hardly argued or fought. What had I done? I recounted the days before he had left to go to the temple. I could not find any fault in how I had treated him. His actions made no sense to me. Had the Pharisees done something to him?

I swept the dirt across the threshold, holding firmly onto the wooden handle of the broom. I felt a nudge inside abdomen. Something filling my womb. I squealed and dropped the broom, letting it clatter on the floor. “Zechariah!”

I ran to the back room where Zechariah was praying silently on his knees as usual. “You won’t believe this!”

He turned slowly. At the sight of me, his eyes lit up.

I ran into his arms and embraced him. “My dear, we are having a child at long last.”

He smiled sheepishly.

I knew he meant it deep in his heart. He was happy for me. For us. We were going to have a child! The Lord was blessing us after all. He hadn’t overlooked our righteous deeds.

“Oh, Zechariah, we really are going to be all right. More than all right.” I put my hand on his cheek and gazed at his face. “The Lord has heard my prayer and is doing so much for me to make me honorable in the sight of all.”

I studied his deep green eyes, filled with happiness. Somehow, in that moment, I knew that he truly loved me and I had done him no wrong. I drew a sigh of contentment and relief.

He still said nothing.

“Zechariah, won’t you speak to me again?” I gazed into his eyes. “I’ve been so worried that—that you’ll never be able to speak again. I miss you. The real you.”

My husband held the back of my head. He looked hurt and sad.

I ached, longing to hear just one word from his lips. When would I get my Zechariah back?

***

Six months passed. Zechariah still did not speak to me. My womb had swelled into the size of a small round pot. I sat on a stool and knit together another tunic for Zechariah.  

“Lord God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob,” I prayed quietly. “I look forward to seeing this new babe’s smile and laugh. I wonder what color of eyes she’ll have.”

I was certain the child was a girl. I just had a feeling it was, and I was used to trusting my own intuition. It had to be a girl.

Someone knocked at the door. I rose to my feet. Who could it be? Zechariah wasn’t supposed to come home until later today.

I creaked open the door.

A young girl appeared with her straight brown hair glowing in the sunlight. “Elizabeth!”

I was speechless, uncertain of what to say to this girl who had become an infidel within a few days. I had heard the rumors circling that Mary and Joseph had been intimate and that my dear niece standing before me was pregnant with a child. But something rose up inside me. Love for Mary and the child within her.

My own womb bulged. The baby leaped inside me with joy.

I shook with wonder, as realization spread through. It seemed that the child within me knew exactly who Mary’s babe was. The rumors were wrong. Mary was absolutely right.

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” I exclaimed, throwing my arms around her. “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Mary laughed joyously. I could tell she was relieved.

“My dear Elizabeth,” she exclaimed, “why are you so kind to me? I am so honored by your greeting. He truly is the Messiah.”

I couldn’t wait to tell Zechariah. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary hugged me tightly. “Finally someone understands. Truly your child is special as well, that he would recognize my infant as the Savior he really is.”

I beamed. God had given Zechariah and I so much favor. This little girl within me knew exactly who the Messiah was.

Mary looked so lovely, her face aglow and her long brown hair cascaded around her shoulders. “You are going to be a great mother,” I said. And I meant it.

The day of giving birth came to pass. I labored for hours. When the time came, the baby came out and the servants washed the infant.

One exclaimed, “It’s a boy!”

I gasped in pain. “A boy!” I drew in deep breaths and tried to relax myself. “I’m having a boy?”

The servants nodded.

I rejoiced and gave praise to God. “Thank you, my Lord and King!”

The servants cleaned up the babe, wrapped him in cloth, and placed him in my arms.

“Where is my dear Zechariah?” I asked them.

A servant ran to get him. Soon my husband appeared. The servants ushered him towards me. He rushed towards me and knelt beside my bedside.

“What shall we name him?” I asked.

He looked at me wearily. His eyes were tired. I could tell he had been worrying about me in the other room.

He mouthed a word. This was how we had been communicating the past few days. His lips formed the word: John.

I loved the name. It fit perfectly. The meaning was “God is gracious” and God had certainly been beyond gracious to us by providing a son for Zechariah and me.

At long last.

***

Soon family and friends had heard of the great news of what God had done for us. They congratulated us. Eight days passed. It was now time for the circumcision ceremony.

Friends and relatives gathered around the child and me. I held the babe close to me.

The topic of conversation: what to name the child. They suggested all sorts of names to name the child after various family members.

“We should name him Zechariah, after his father,” my mother said.

I grimaced. I hated it when she tried to impose herself onto my life. “That’s not—I don’t want to—” I stammered out the words but my relatives kept interrupting me with their own conjectures of what to name the child.

Finally, my nephew turned to me and asked, “What would you like to name your child?”

“Thank you for asking,” I said graciously. “We’ve decided to name him John.”

My nephew narrowed his brows. “But no one in your family is named this name.”

Then they asked Zechariah his opinion on what to name the child. He gestured to them “God is gracious” but most were too confused by his hand motions. He gestured for a writing tablet. On it he wrote, “His name is John!”

My relatives gasped.

“I’m overjoyed to be his father!”

I recognized the low tenor voice at once. Zechariah was back! I looked up at my dear husband. He began talking animatedly about how excited he was to be this boy’s father.

I stood up from the wooden stool. He smiled at me and came towards me. “Elizabeth,” he said. He reached out his hands for the babe, and I let him hold the small child. “We are parents now, my dear.”

***

Soon the word spread about the wonderful news of the dear child being born to us mere servants of God.

“Elizabeth,” he said to me. “I am so grateful for you, dear wife. I am so sorry that I could not speak to you for so many months.”

His eyes told it all. He had been longing to speak to me, but had not the ability to do so.

“Our great God inhibited me from speaking during these past months. I doubted him when he told me our son John would prepare for the arrival of the Messiah.”

Prepare for the arrival? My eyes widened and my lips parted. “No wonder!” I cried. “Our son leapt in my womb when Mary came to visit.”

He smiled, remembering no doubt, the day I had told him this.

My son wasn’t only a gift to us, but a gift to the whole world. He had an important part to play: to prepare others for the Savior to come and save us from suffering. I couldn’t wait to meet him. Our lives had been changed forever.

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