Theme of the Week: Advent
Bible Verse: Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:5-22
Zechariah was one of the good guys. A priest who served God in the temple. A man who traced his priestly ancestry back to Aaron. A faithful and patient servant who, along with all of Israel, continued to hope that God would hear their prayers and come to their rescue.
When the angel met Zechariah as he burned incense in the temple it had been 400 years since the Lord had spoken. 400-years of war, bloodshed, persistent oppression, pain, and unanswered cries of, “How long, oh Lord, must we wait?”
With his presence and his words, the angel answered that question. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you and you are to call him John” (Luke 1:13). Not only would Zechariah have a son. The words of the angel made it clear, this boy will be the forerunner of Messiah (see vv. 14-17).
The silence was over! We were not abandoned! Rescue is coming! And God has chosen Zechariah and his family to be a part of it!
This is what makes Zechariah’s response so curious, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18) Why would Zechariah respond in such a way? Because the proverb was just as true then as it is now, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Zechariah and all Israel had waited so long that skepticism had taken root. They had begun to forget the power of God.
Advent is supposed to be a season of hope but for some of us it is a season of despair.
We despair at the sight of the empty seat where the wayward child should be seated.
We despair that grandpa isn’t here to read the Christmas story this year.
We despair because the job loss has turned the usual mountain of presents under the tree into a mole hill.
We despair in the waiting, but Jesus brings hope because He is the most urgent answer to our every prayer.
Prayer: Lord, when hope gives way to despair give us eyes to see You. When time seems to have run out on what we’ve been praying for help us to hope in Your goodness. You are God, and for that we are thankful.
Reflection: What situations and circumstances cause despair to displace hope? Can you remember a time when the realities of life seemed to crowd out hope? How did God meet you in that space?
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