Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Sometimes one word can convey a lifetime of disappointment. Like others in the first chapters of Luke, Zechariah and Elizabeth were devoted to God. They were descendants of Aaron. They were upright and blameless in the sight of the Lord. Zechariah was serving as a priest before God. They were everything a child of God is supposed to be. Then we read that word, But: “But they were childless.”
Unlike other people in these first chapters of Luke, Zechariah and Elizabeth were not described as waiting. When the angel Gabriel appeared and told him that he would be a father, Zechariah pointed out that he was “an old man” and that his wife was “well along in years.” It seemed their time for expectation was over.
It is not easy to remain expectant after a lifetime of disappointment. Some might suggest that it is better to lower our sights and modify our expectations. But Zechariah is not commended for resigning himself to his situation. The psalms say that God brings joy to the barren (Psalm 113:9), and the apostle Paul reminds us that Abraham, whose “body was as good as dead,” believed in God’s promise “against all hope” (Romans 4:18-19).
God promises hope to those whose hopes have dried up. And Zechariah reminds us that even those who have almost lost hope will sing for joy.
God of hope, fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Jesus, that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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