Patience in the Pause (Zacharias and Elizabeth)
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
READ Luke 1:5-45.
The hurt of holding on. The pain of the divine pause. The frustration with being faithful only to have God say, “not yet.” Have you been there? At a place where you feel like God has withheld the one thing you asked Him for?
Zacharias and Elisabeth were. Their entire lives were devoted to God and His church. They were both Levites, the lone tribe that was responsible for the temple worship and upkeep. For centuries, their families led the praise teams, prepared for liturgical services, planned the after worship activities to ensure the Israelites and the rest of the world knew the God they served. They were faithful servants. The gospel writer uses the highest form of compliments when describing their characters, “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). BOTH OF THEM WERE RIGHTEOUS AND BLAMELESS!!! What a couple! What a way to be described especially when they served a God that was silent.
This faithful, Godfearing, worship leading, now senior citizen couple could not conceive a child. It was the dream of every Israelite couple - to be able to have a child, who could carry on the family name, and perhaps birth the promised Messiah. For decades, God said no to that dream! Every pregnancy test came back negative. Every month Elizabeth was reminded that she was getting to the point where she would be beyond childbearing years. Yet, they continued to serve - blamelessly! Luke informs the reader that Zacharias was still leading worship to God in the temple. This particular day he was serving at a time when worshippers came to offer prayers. How ironic? He was interceding for others yet the desire of his heart was unheeded by the God he served.
We can learn from this elderly couple the true meaning of service and sacrifice. How do you respond when God says “no”… or worse yet, “not now”? What character traits arise when God allows you to serve others the very thing you are asking Him for? The beautiful thing about this text is that God not only blessed this couple with a baby boy, but He gave them the privilege of raising John the Baptist, the one that prepared the world for their Redeemer.
- Do you have something you are praying for, and right now, as far as you can tell, the answer from God is NO? How have you responded? Is there a better way to respond?
- What does it look like to be faithful even when your personal desires are not fulfilled? Does this response work only in your relationship with God, or can it also translate in your relationships with others?
- Hearing the word “No” can be hard to stomach for most. It is even harder to continue to move forward. However, just like a loving parent, sometimes God says no to build character to prepare us for something even more incredible.
- Bitterness, jealousy, and covetousness may result when we see someone get something we wanted. These fruits however, have no place in the kingdom of God. Pray to ask God to help you to stay focused on your calling even when your prayers are not answered in the way you desire.
Read Philippians 4:6-7. For many people, being anxious comes naturally, especially when what they are asking God for is important. Discuss with your spouse how you can rest in the promises of God in the face of uncertainty.