Luke 1:5-7 reads, “5 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. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”
While the story of Jesus’ birth actually begins at the creation of the world, fast forward with me to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Zechariah was 1 of 7000 priests in Israel. The job of the priest was to serve the temple twice a year, and by casting of lots, on this particular day, Zechariah was chosen to do the job. Only the priests were allowed in the inner chamber of the temple, the Holy Place, to burn incense on behalf of the people in Jerusalem.
For years, Zechariah had prayed for a child; however, his wife Elizabeth remained barren. After Elizabeth reach an age beyond childbearing years, Zechariah must have been desperately discouraged.
How long have you prayed for something you desire? Something that is terribly important for you? Maybe it is a child, yet month-after-month, there isn’t one. Maybe it is a spouse, yet you can’t seem to meet the right one. Maybe it is for healing, yet visit-after-visit to the doctor reveals your miracle hasn’t come. Maybe it is for the salvation of a loved one, yet day-after-day you watch and nothing. Have your prayers seemingly fallen on deaf ears?
As Zechariah entered the Holy Place to light the incense, the angel of the Lord appeared before 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 give him the name John.’”
Can you imagine his delight? His surprise? And yet, when Zechariah hears the news, he actually argues with the angel. “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Some of you might read his words and think, “What a nut! This angel is standing right in front of him! How could he doubt?” But some of us understand. There are times in our lives when we desperately long for something. We hope for it; pray for it; believe for it; and the disappointment, the heartache, the anguish overpowers our heart to the point that we just can’t allow ourselves to hurt again. We can’t allow ourselves to believe.
Zechariah is no different from you and me. It really didn’t matter if the angel was standing right in front of him. His human nature forced him to protect his heart from the pain of possible rejection and disappointment yet again. I’ve been there. Some of you have as well.
Doubt, fear, anxiety, and disappointment can be crippling. God wants us to know, His plan is better. He wants us to believe our answer is on the way!
Today, take your desires to Him. Believe in His ability to deliver you in His way, His time, and with His plan.