It was my first miscarriage. We had been helping out at a summer camp and were hours away from home. I ended up losing our baby in a strange hospital without any friends or family (other than Bill). The wounds were raw. It took a long time for me to be able to look at anything to do with babies without my heart going to a dark place. How could I trust God? We were faithful followers of Jesus. How could this be part of God’s plan? It was not my dream.
THEY WERE BOTH VERY OLD
Maybe this is also what Zechariah and Elizabeth wondered: how could they trust God? When we are introduced to them in Luke 1:5-25: they were both very old. In other words, one foot in the grave. Over the years how many births of friends and neighbors had they repeatedly participated in celebrating? Zech and Elizabeth would then return to their own home where their cradle just gathered dust, season after season. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive. When was the day they finally gave their unused cradle to another family? Or did they chop it up for firewood? I think I may have done the latter. It is hard to let go of dreams.
GOD WAS HEARING EVERYONE ELSE’S PRAYERS
It may have seemed God was hearing everyone else’s prayers except the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Yet they chose to trust God and maintain a spiritual life that was: righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They were not only outwardly good, but decided to continue to follow God with all their hearts. In spiritual terms, this is the season where the battle is either won or lost. The victory is when genuine faith becomes a conscious decision to continue to cling to God, regardless of the circumstances. Zech and Elizabeth still clung to the goodness of God, whether or not their cradle was filled.
It is understandable that Zechariah had a problem comprehending the message from the angel. At his age, it’s a wonder he didn’t have a heart attack when the angel appeared to him with the message: God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. At the back of Zech’s mind, maybe he was saying, “Yeah, sure, it’s about time…”
THE TWILIGHT OF THEIR LIVES
In the twilight of their lives, Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to experience great joy and gladness. This long-awaited baby would be everything they had ever prayed for: filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. Their son John’s mission would be the ultimate answer to the prayer that any believing parents ask for their children. John would not only give them great joy and gladness, but he would also be a godly man, great in the eyes of God, and he would prepare the hearts of his fellow countrymen for the coming of the Messiah. What more could a parent ask for?
GOD HAD NEVER FORGOTTEN
God had never forgotten the prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He felt their grief all those years, especially when the prayers of others were answered. He heard their laments. Psalm 5:1-3: Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. It may have seemed that God’s timing was off regarding Zech and Elizabeth, but it fit perfectly into God’s perfect calendar for humanity. God was with them even during the darkest times. Our Father understands all about empty cradles. Are you waiting for the God Who can be trusted? He may not answer in the way you are expecting, but He is the God Who is good. How about giving Him your dreams?
For further encouragement, listen to the story of Loryn Smith