“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labour;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1)
This is a verse from the Book of Isaiah, describing the barren wife who was denied the gift of children. Yet He gives hope, joy and peace to this barren woman that she will be surrounded by more children than a biological mother.
If you look at the life of Sister Samia, as her husband, Pastor Jabir, calls her, we will see the difficult and painful trial that led them to trust and obey God.
Sister Samia was married in 1973 in Egypt. It was her destiny not to become pregnant for ten years, although there was no obvious medical reason for this. She finally conceived in 1983. Her pregnancy was a difficult one, and the doctor ordered total bedrest. However, but she was determined to continue going to church. Inside the church (God’s house) she began to bleed and she suffered a miscarriage. Pastor Jabir was worried that she would lose her faith and did not know how to comfort her. To his surprise, Samia accepted her misfortune with peace of mind. She kept saying, “God promised me good news,” with no hint of doubt.
In our community it is a cruel fate for a woman to be barren. There is intense social pressure for every married woman to become pregnant. Samia felt the pressure as her friends and relatives kept asking her when she was going to have a baby. She felt she didn’t belong unless she became a mother.
In 1985 Samia and her husband moved to Melbourne. Her life there was happy. She continued going to church. She was characterised by a fondness for cooking and pastry-making, praying, singing church songs and reading the Bible. She rejoiced with those who rejoiced and wept with those who wept. She did not grumble about her childlessness, for her faith was firmly rooted and established in love.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
When I researched the meaning of this verse, I found that the “width” refers to doing a good job, and the “long” refers to continuing and persevering in the task. The “high” is when you wait for God’s blessing although you cannot see it.
In 1993 Samia became pregnant again, and once again she suffered a miscarriage. This time God emphasised that the promised blessing was the peace. Peace of mind is greater than wealth, glory or power. God would bless her more than before. “I asked God,” she said, “give me a child inside my womb, and take him if you want.”
She was called “Mama Samia” by many, even by older people, because of her love, generosity, nurture and concern for the youngsters of her parish. When the Holy Spirit enters these loyal hearts, He brings great power to serve others. Every week she cooked Sunday lunch for scores of people, and never cared if some of them were ungrateful. She just continued with the same humble service.
Every Mothers’ Day the brothers and sisters in the congregation gathered together to greet Mama Samia and thank her for her hospitality. She was never left to feel lonely. She was always surrounded by well-wishers of all ages who had become her spiritual sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.
How many mothers give birth to six or seven children, yet none of them is left to look after them in old age or even to ask after their health? True spirituality is not rituals and ceremonies but a life of obedience to God springing up from the heart. The measure of a real Christian is not how many hours he prays but how fully he accepts God’s commands. There are always blessings on the head of God’s obedient servant.