They were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive.
Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, had struggled with the disappointment of being childless. They probably wondered why they had not been blessed to become parents. In those days, people often thought it was a curse to be childless, so Zechariah and Elizabeth may also have thought they had done something wrong and were being punished by God.
There is something about unexplained struggles that can lead us to question ourselves and even God. We can understand why we fail a class when we have cheated, or why we lose a job when we have always been late for work. But when we believe we have done our best, or at least have not done wrong, a lingering “Why?” can add confusion to our sadness.
When Zechariah met an angel in the temple one day, he did not hear why he and his wife had been disappointed. He was simply told that he and Elizabeth would have a son, who was to be called John.
The story of Jesus’ coming is not primarily a story about God giving people what they have always wanted. It’s about God’s plans to bring what everyone in the whole world needs. When God comes near, his presence sets things right.
Zechariah’s misery ended in an unexpected way as God prepared for the coming of the promised Messiah. God’s presence can bring surprising blessings to situations that may seem hopeless. In what situations has he come near to you?
Lord, thank you for coming to bring relief amid the hopelessness we don’t understand. Amen.
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