A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 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 honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
Jesus’ mother Mary and his aunt Elizabeth had a unique relationship and understanding between them. Both became moms of very special children.
Mary was carrying the Son of God, who was coming to save the world — Jesus. Elizabeth was carrying the one who would prepare the way for Jesus — John the Baptist.
Elizabeth had waited a long time for a child. Luke 1:7 says she was very old and past the point of childbearing when she became pregnant with John. Her friends would have started having children in their teens. Elizabeth likely spent many years quite aware of how different her life was than her peers’ and feeling lonely while watching her friends raise children and become grandmothers. In her culture, childlessness was considered a curse.
I relate to some of Elizabeth’s experience. As the mother of a child with disabilities, I have spent many years praying for healing over my family. At times, I have envied the stories and timelines that other moms are living. Sometimes I have felt hurt or rejected.
God slowness to respond to Elizabeth’s prayers had great purpose. Her pregnancy began a few months ahead of Mary’s (Luke 1:24, 26-27). That ended up being perfect timing for Elizabeth to enjoy the privilege of bearing the prophet who would point people to Jesus.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.2 Peter 3:9
When Mary came to Elizabeth’s home for a visit in Luke 1:40, Elizabeth’s baby leapt in her womb. There was a joyful knowing — a Holy Spirit prompting — that there would be a very special relationship between those cousins. For a long time, no other woman knew what these two women knew.
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 honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?”Luke 1:42-43
Both women heard from God that Mary was going to give birth to the Messiah. This gave Elizabeth unique ability to empathize with Mary’s situation. In Mary’s visit with Elizabeth, she found opportunity to be comforted, validated and strengthened by a friend who understood her situation as nobody else could.
This situation and the difference in their ages, also put Elizabeth in position to be a mentor to Mary. Elizabeth lived through the sorrowful loss of her son, John. It is possible she was able to show Mary what enduring a son’s murder looked like.
As the mother or father of a unique child, how might you relate to Mary’s need for the reassurance and leadership of a friend?
Have you struggled with being patient while waiting for God to answer a certain prayer? Does Elizabeth’s experience encourage you that God’s purpose will prevail by your trusting in His ways and timing?
Have you trusted God to use your child’s unique life for His great and timely purposes?
Have you had the privilege of encouraging or mentoring another mom whose child has disabilities or complex health issues?
Christmas brings reminders that this world is full of threats, pain and other challenges. But the Savior brings the promise that ultimate victory is ahead! This is our reason for hope, joy and peace.
Jesus came as a baby then grew into the young man who purchased our ultimate victory. He will use each and every one of us – in relationships with on another — to multiply that mission.
Note: For deeper reflection on the lives of Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph and other key people in the Christmas account, you might enjoy Karen Kingsbury’s historical fiction book titled The Family of Jesus.
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families.