25 Days of Christmas – Hope in the Face of Hopelessness – Elizabeth and Zechariah
This is the time of year that most of us think of as full of faith, love, peace, and hope. Yet for many of us, it only serves to remind us of loss; of loved ones, of dreams, of expectations. I remember holidays after my son passed away. There seemed to be a hole that just couldn’t be filled. His absence was strongly felt. The first Christmas after his death was extremely tough on me. I got pregnant right after his death, totally unplanned on my part. My twin girls came a month early so the Christmas that should have been Timmy’s first became my daughters’ first. It was both happy and exciting because of the girls, and sad because of Timmy’s absence.
It had been my prayer since as far back as I can remember, to have a little boy of my own. It took some time to find the right guy and I had begun to think I would never have that son. At 29 years old I finally had my prayer answered only to have him taken away eight weeks later. And now a year later, I get twin girls. Have I told you yet that I never wanted girls? Just sons. That was my dream. Three or four sons. But sometimes we lose patience when waiting for God’s plan to play out. Sometimes He has different plans for us. And sometimes, we don’t like those plans. But He always has a plan even if we don’t get it.
In the gospel of Luke 1:5-18, we meet a priest named Zechariah. He was noted as being a righteous man, a priest from the line of Aaron. His wife was also a righteous woman. They lived in the country and came to the temple twice a year for Zechariah to perform his priestly temple duties. He wasn’t an urban sort of priest. He wasn’t a mega-church sort of priest. Zechariah was a simple, humble, country priest. But he was a good man. His wife was old. They wanted a son more than anything, but alas, it hadn’t happened. They prayed religiously but as the years went on, the prayers for a child waned. If it was going to happen surely God would have answered it by now.
Never underestimate God. When things seem hopeless, that is the very time to hope. It was time for Zechariah to perform his temple duties. They put the name of all the priests of his group into a hat and choose lots as to who would enter the holy of holies and burn the incense. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Zechariah’s name was chosen and he proceeded to do his duties. And who should he meet inside the temple tents? None other than the angel Gabriel. And he pronounces that Zechariah and his wife will have a son!
This is not the end of the story but rather the beginning. There is a lot more and we will continue it tomorrow. For today I just want to leave you with this thought. When all seems hopeless, when your prayers haven’t been answered or they’ve been answered in a way you didn’t want, dare to hope anyway. God has a plan. It may still be painful. Zechariah and Elizabeth still have more pain to come. Two years after Timmy died I had another son. There was more pain to come into my life too, but with it there has also been hope. Today, hold on to hope. It is the message of Christmas. Jesus is our hope! See you tomorrow…