If ever anyone needed hope, surely it’s … Well, sometimes I could say, surely it’s me. Perhaps you could too, but the great news is that Christians serve a God of hope, who can fill us with joy and peace when we trust Him (Romans 15:13).
About fifteen months before Jesus was born, a man (one of the priests) was on-duty as usual. In fact, the whole of life was pretty much going on as usual. His wife was past childbearing age, and he had long accepted that the joy of bringing up children wouldn’t be theirs. They both loved and served God wholeheartedly. He could well remember the fervent prayers they had uttered time and again, but with the advancing years came a heaviness that settled on his heart. As he saw new parents bring in their baby sons for the purification ritual, he would realise afresh that his and Elizabeth’s cries had been to no avail.
But God saw those baby sons too, as well as the pain of Zechariah’s loss, and He sent an angel to turn it on its head. “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,” the angel said.
His season of pain was over. The silence, the gnawing ache that had been there so long, and Zechariah couldn’t quite get it. Imagine him saying through gritted teeth those words he must have repeated to himself every time that old, familiar desire clawed at his heart. “I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.” Be reasonable. These are the facts. Get over it, but getting over it wasn’t in God’s plan for Zechariah. His patience had paid off. His prayer had been heard! Their cries hadn’t been to no avail. The God of hope had come into their world; flipped it over; given their lives a whole new and unexpected twist.
Nine months later, they and many others celebrated the birth of their baby son, later known as John the Baptist. Zechariah must have remembered the angel’s words about him and marvelled as he watched them come true. People did indeed rejoice because of his birth, and he would indeed go on to point people to Jesus and His future ministry. Holding baby John in his arms and praising God, Zechariah was able to acknowledge: “The rising sun will come to us from heaven … to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
The God of hope filled Zechariah and Elizabeth with joy and peace as they trusted Him. He wants to do the same for us today.
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My thanks to Bonnie Gray for her OneWordAdvent. If you decide to participate in the linkup like I did, please tell me here in the comments. I’d love to read your post.