Infertility during Advent? The worst.
Take a whole season about waiting for a baby to arrive, and then plop a desperate, hormonal, weepy not-yet-mother-to-be right in the middle. Ugly.
I spent two Advents praying for a baby. Trying not to cry in the pew at church. Trying not to envy friends’ Christmas cards. Trying not to wonder if next year we’d finally hold our own baby under the twinkling tree.
So I still ache every Advent with these readings, the ones about barren couples hoping for children. Even though Scripture’s infertility stories resonate differently now that I have babies of my own, I still understand their longing, how they pave the way for the Child who will change everything.
But these aren’t simply stories to support our hope when babies are beyond our reach. If this truth is God’s Word, it is a story for all of us. It is our story.
We all bring some longing to Advent every year. Please, God, I want. I want my grandma to get better. I want my friend to be healed. I want my husband to find a job. I want peace of mind in this troubling decision. I want to find You in my life. I want, I want, I want.
Today’s twinned stories of angelic announcements are stories of shared longing. Two couples waiting for children. Two husbands hoping. Two wives dreaming. You can almost hear the ache behind their words, the long nights they must have spent wrestling with infertility in a culture that prized progeny above all else.
But even in their pain, they were not alone. They were longing together.
In Advent we long together. As a family, gathered round our calendars at home. As a community, gathered round our wreaths at church. We mark the weeks. We wait and pray.
Even when our aching feels alone, even when our longing feels desperate, even when we fool ourselves into thinking that everyone else must be full of light and love while our corner of the world feels dark and cold—we are still longing as Christians within community. This is the gift and promise of what it means to be church: that we are always part of the Body of Christ.
We think we know what we are longing for this Advent. But the One who was God-Among-Us, didn’t He change all our expectations with Incarnation?
He will do so again this year.
Do not be afraid.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.