How Shall this Be, Seeing I Know Not a Man? #CopingWithCOVID19
When Mary is told that she will give birth to a son, she responds logically with “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34) Fair question. Rather than chide her for a lack of faith, Gabriel takes her seriously and answers her question. Serious questions about how God will fulfill improbable promises deserve serious answers.
God has promised me children. Every day, this promise looks harder and harder for God to fulfill. I’m single. I’m in my late 30s. There’s a global pandemic going on that has required people to stay away from each other – I haven’t even had a date in over half a year. I exclaimed to my cat one day “You can’t get pregnant from six feet away!”
Even science is failing me. I’ve considered freezing my eggs to press the snooze button on the biological clock and buy time for my tragically tardy husband to materialize, but non-emergency medical procedures aren’t all that available now either.
We hear about the people who have died from COVID-19. Some people talk about those who will die from the secondary effects of the pandemic – suicides, domestic violence victims, people who die from other diseases that would have been preventable if they could have accessed care, those who will starve because of the economic devastation. But we don’t hear about the people who won’t be born because their parents have to stay at arm’s length.
I still have faith, and I still have hope, but it’s not easy. In a church where children are seen as markers of righteousness and divine favor (how many times have you heard over the pulpit variations on the phrase “I’m so glad God trusted me with these precious souls”?), this pandemic is making me appear unrighteous. I don’t believe it, but when it permeates the air, it’s hard to avoid wondering. I’m really not looking forward to the twice-annual “single and childless pulpit-shaming fest” at general conference in October. I didn’t choose to be single in the middle of a pandemic; it just happened.
Gabriel answered Mary’s question. God has not yet answered mine. How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?