Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Insights From Christmas Part 1

Tired Of Waiting

I was reading the Bible the other day, and a verse jumped out at me.

(Luk 1:13) But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

A pretty cool thought occurred to me, one that I once had while preaching this very passage. Look back at what the angel said. “Your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…”

Okay, that’s cool, but so what? Zach and Liz had asked God for a baby, God heard them and said, “Sure deal.”

So what? Stuff like this happens all the time.

Well…let’s think about it, and I will ask a question to stimulate your thought.

When do you think Zacharias had prayed this prayer that he was now being told was being answered with a ‘Yes’?

When was the last time Zach had asked for a son?

What prayer was God talking about?

Lets think about the context for a moment. In this culture, marriages occurred in early age, and children were considered a blessing. Birth control was unheard of. Children were a blessing. They were a retirement plan. They were a sign of God’s favor. They were social security. Every family wanted a bunch of them. Zach and Liz were probably married before she was 18 years old. The Bible emphasizes that they were righteous, and he was even a priest. They were a young couple, living for God and excited about what was going to happen in their lives. They could not wait till Zach Jr. and Little Liz appeared on the scene, soon to be followed by 7-8 other little kiddos. After all, everyone knew that children were the blessing of God and proof that you loved Him.

The first few months went by and Liz wasn’t pregnant. Then the months turned into a year, and the young couple probably began to pray. People were asking about a child, and constantly expecting her to be expecting.

The year became two. Now they were hurting. I have known many couples who discovered, after years of trying, that they were infertile. The pain cannot be understood by someone who has not experienced it. Add to this truth, that in this culture, the lack of children was a curse. In this society where children were known to be a blessing, an unfortunate by-product of this truth had come to pass. An open womb was a blessing, a closed womb was a sign of hidden sin. People began to talk.

By now, the couple had been married a few years, and every month there was a reminder of the silence of heaven. The stained truth that they still would not have a child. They were heartbroken. They fasted and prayed…nothing came in answer to their prayer other than another few days of sadness. They began to dread the end of the month, and felt their hope slowly becoming dread. Anger and disappointment, blame and questioning became the norm at least once a month.

The months had become years, and the years decades.

At what point do you think that they stopped asking for a child? After 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?

Now, Elizabeth has passed through menopause. We do not know exactly how old she was, but three times it is stressed that she was way too old to have kids. Not only that, but she was so old, that her pregnancy was used as the sign, the miracle that God gave to Mary to prove He could do anything!

I don’t know about you…but I probably would have stopped praying after year 2 or 3. I know for sure that after 10 years, after 120 failures or disappointments, I would have KNOWN that it was God’s will for me to not have kids.

And yet…what did the angel say? “Your prayer has been heard…”
I am giving Zach the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he prayed faithfully for 25 years. However, that means it was 25 years ago since his last prayer! He had not only quit praying, he had also given up hope and lost his faith….when the angel said the answer was a yes, Zach argued with him about it. Not only had God said “No” hundreds of times…now it was impossible to receive a “Yes”.

But what Zach did not know was that God had heard him….over 50 years ago God had heard him. Only God had a greater plan in mind. God wanted to give them a son, but not just any son. God was going to give them the greatest man to ever live apart from Christ, the fulfillment of prophecy, and use them as a divine sign of omnipotence.

God was going to use their story and record it for all eternity.

But all they felt was silence.

Are you tired of waiting? Have you been praying for something that you feel is indeed in the will of God, but it is not happening? Are you wanting to give up?

Zach can teach us that not only does God answer prayer…He exceeds our expectations and surpasses our hopes…IN HIS TIME.

This Christmas, how about renewing your faith, restoring your hope, and trusting in Him to meet your needs?

IN Jesus,


Joe Holman said...

had another thought as I was reading this. God couldn't say "Yes" to their first two decades of praying because Mary wasn't even born.