What are you waiting for today?
As I write this post this morning, I am waiting on my daughter to arrive at the airport. Earlier, I waited on her text that told me she made it to the airport at 5am (relief!!). There are other things I am waiting on in my life that are not answered so quickly and easily. Prayers I have prayed for years. Prayers for family members to come to know Jesus. Prayers of healing for myself and others. Prayers for my children to walk with the Lord. There are times I get tired of praying these prayers, but the Bible has shown me over and over that God hears our prayers.
Today in Luke 1:1-25 we see that God hears the prayers of Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Luke, the author of the entire book of Luke, begins in chapter 1 verse 5 introducing us to Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple old enough to have quit expecting children.
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.
They probably wondered why God had not blessed them with children, why their faithfulness to God was unnoticed and unrewarded. In their culture, childlessness was regarded as a curse for sin of some kind. In verse 25, Elizabeth calls it her “disgrace.”
As devout Jews, Zechariah and Elizabeth had long prayed and hoped for a child and certainly it seemed that God would never answer their prayers. And then, one day God began to speak to Zechariah while he was on duty in the temple. The angel spoke the unexpected and much waited words to him. After such a long period of waiting, Elizabeth was pregnant. Their hopes, longings and prayers were finally coming to fruition.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
What do we do while waiting for our prayers to be answered? Do we become impatient and try to fulfill our longings on our own? Do we give up and quit praying? Or do we, as Zechariah and Elizabeth did, wait on God to respond to our prayers and longing? How do we live while we wait?
Zechariah and Elizabeth teach us a very valuable lesson. Even though they were frustrated with God’s delay in their desire to have a child, they did not give up on God or stop living out their lives in service and in faith. Zechariah was an Israelite priest and was on duty in the temple when he learned that Elizabeth was pregnant.
God did not act immediately as they wanted and God did not grant their life’s expectations and hopes on their timetable. But, they had not given up on God. They remained active in their work as God’s followers.
Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth might have thought that God had given up on them and forgotten about their pleas, prayers and hopes. God was faithful to them just as God would be faithful to the Israelites and their prayer for a Messiah in the coming of Jesus. It was a beautiful reminder to them and to us that we can be assured that even when we have to wait for our hopes, dreams and prayers to come true, we can be sure that this does not mean that God is not active and at work in our lives.
Do we remain active and faithful to God in the midst of our waiting? Waiting for God to answer our heartfelt prayers? I love how the Bible is so good at reminding us through these stories that God is faithful and steadfast in caring for us, even if it is not on our timetable. Including today, we have 4 days to wait till Christmas, the day we celebrate the promise of and fulfillment of the Messiah. May we spend time reading the promises of god and reflecting on His Word.