This December we are going to examine the characters of Christmas. We’ll look into the lives of the people who were part of the Christmas story.
Let’s start with Elizabeth and her tale of waiting. Elizabeth begins the story of Christmas with a miraculous birth of her own.
Luke describes Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Both of them carefully obeyed God’s laws for worship and daily life. But they had a great sadness—Elizabeth was barren. Plus, Luke tells us that she and Zechariah were both advanced in years. Years ago when I was struggling to get pregnant, people tried to comfort me by saying, “Don’t worry. You’re young. You’ll get pregnant soon.” No one was saying those words to Elizabeth any more. Elizabeth waited and waited and waited and still was not blessed with a child. All hope of ever having a child had long faded. It had now become, humanly speaking, an impossibility.
Then one day, Zechariah is surprised by the visit of the angel Gabriel who tells him that God has heard his prayers and that they will soon have a son!
Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. (Luke 1:13-15)
And if that isn’t enough to knock over Zechariah with a feather, Gabriel goes on to tell the old priest that his son will be the one to prepare the people for the Savior!
This story is so encouraging to me! Elizabeth waited and waited for a baby.
We all wait. Wait for news about the new job. Wait for healing. Wait for the restoration of a relationship. And we hate it. Wait is a four-letter-word that we want to avoid.
But when I look at the stories in the Bible I see that God often made His people wait. It seems to me that often He didn’t work out the answer to the problem right away because the delay made the answer that much more miraculous. The birth of Isaac was that much more remarkable because he was born to ninety-year-old Sarah. Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt was even more amazing after spending years in prison. The Israelites possession of the Promised Land was more astounding after being enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, than if Jacob’s descendants had slowly taken over the region.
And now God drew attention to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby through a long delay.Because Elizabeth gave birth when she was “well advanced in years,” it seemed obvious that this child was going to be special.
Not only would the baby John be a significant addition to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s family, he would be important to the whole nation of Israel—because He would prepare the people for the coming of the Savior.
God was doing something bigger than answering a prayer for a baby. He was answering the prayer for a Savior. If John was going to prepare hearts for the arrival of the Savior it meant Messiah was coming soon!
So whatever you are waiting for look for God’s hand in it. He may be working out something even bigger than you can imagine!
Next step: What are you waiting for? Write it down on a piece of paper and then write out a prayer asking God to help you be patient as He works out His will. Ask Him to help you see the bigger thing He is working on through the delay.