Most of us have heard of “Sleepless in Seattle.” But do you know about “Speechless in Judea?” There’s a lesson here that is a reminder that none of us are too old to return to “spiritual boot camp.” Yes, it can be hard on someone “spiritually mature,” especially for one who has exhibited a life of obedience to God and right living. Perhaps we can avoid some of the strain if we learn from the example this person of note learned in an unusual 9 month lesson.
You may be familiar with the story from Luke 1 of how Zechariah and Elizabeth came to be parents of a baby boy named John. History affords him the nickname of John the Baptist because he was quite a gnarly prophet who boldly called people to repentance and baptized a bunch of them (including his cousin Jesus). Enough about John. The real lesson in this story is about his Dad, Zechariah.
All of us at times might feel that heaven has grown silent. Our prayers hit the ceiling . . . if we keep praying at all. We are tempted to give up hope or may even do so. Our prayer has not been answered. What we believe to be a reasonable prayer object has not been realized. This was the case with the righteous priest Zechariah and his wife. They had prayed for years for a son and were childless. For a woman at this time, it was considered a disgrace, a reproach not to be blessed with children. People would speculate as to why God has withheld this blessing from them. Are they as righteous and obedient as they appear? Do they “deserve” children?
Zechariah and Elizabeth had grown old. Way old. Beyond any reasonable child producing years. Their prayer for a child was long ago silenced. But God had heard their prayer. God had not forgotten their cry. God, in His wisdom and exquisite planning, had orchestrated the birth of a son for them to intersect with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, and John was ordained to prepare the way for the soon but short ministry of the Christ. (Timing is everything, right?) However, when God’s messenger, Gabriel, announced to Zechariah, “your prayer has been heard” and that he would indeed have a son and his mission would be as a powerful prophet, Zechariah’s response was human but disappointing. He doubted. Perhaps many of us would. He said to the angel, “How can this be?” Whoops! For this his ability to speak was put in “time out” for the duration of the pregnancy. We are told to “live by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7), but like Zechariah, we often default to considering present circumstances and fail to look to God with whom “all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)
Maintaining a steadfast faith in view of visible, contrary circumstances is indeed a challenge. Sometimes believing God is too. But we do not know His thoughts and His ways are not always clear to us. He is God. As in the case of Zechariah and Elizabeth and with the intersection of John and Jesus, God’s wisdom and plans were working at greater things which surpass our limited scope of comprehension and prayer. No doubt in his silence of 9 months, Zechariah was greatly enriched and experienced incredible joy.
We are to pray and not quit. Pray with faith in God regardless of what we see. Yes, we may appear crazy doing so. Our faith often puts us in awkward positions. “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live!” (1 Th. 5:16-18 The Message) Think About It.