Faithful In Disappointment
“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”
~ Luke 1:6-7 (NIV)
Friend to Friend
Elizabeth shuffled around her small house doing her daily chores. The house was silent except for the swishing broom and the occasional pebble tumbling across the floor.
For more than half a century she had swept floors, mended garments, woven blankets, fetched the water, ground the grain, and cooked meals for Zechariah. He loved God, and she loved him for it. But he was no housekeeper. Not at home anyway. His service was in the temple.
His father, as well as hers, had also served there. And from childhood she and Zechariah knew the Laws of Moses and the holy requirements of God. Not only was it their family duty, it was also their great privilege.
With reverence, they celebrated every feast. With thankfulness, they offered sacrifices. And with joy they worshiped in hearing the word and singing the great psalms of Asaph.
Their hearts were filled with worship, and their days were filled with service.
Twice a year Zechariah served in Jerusalem at the temple for an entire week. This week his division of priests would be on duty.
Sweeping the last of the pebbles out the front door, she glanced toward Zechariah. He sat hunched at the table, eyes closed, fingers laced, lips moving, but silent. Preparing for the grave responsibilities of the coming week. In just a few minutes they would part ways. He to the Jerusalem temple, and she to fetch the water with the other village women.
With the house so quiet, she could hear the women and their gaggle of children coming down the hill. While mothers were occupied with water jars on heads and hips, the children scampered freely in the road. The happy little brood, always scurrying and scattering, made her giggle. Oh, their energy!
As they neared, two little boys darted from behind their mother’s tunic and raced toward the edge of the terraced hill. The mother scolded and called them back, but before obeying, they each hurled a handful of rocks over the edge and listened to them bounce on the rocks below.
Elizabeth gasped at the danger and smiled at their wonder. Bouncing rocks. What a thrill for little ones. She breathed an exhausted sigh at the thought of chasing them away from every danger. Hills, water, fire, animals. At her age, she had no business holding out hope for a child. She was spent just watching them. How many years had she asked the Lord for a baby? Her entire life it seemed.
She glanced at Zechariah hoping the children’s jolly racket would not disrupt his prayers. But it was too late. He was up and ready to leave.
She kissed him goodbye and watched him amble toward the group of travelers headed to Jerusalem. She was glad he would have company. And help. Age was slowing them both down.
“God, remember him on his journey,” she prayed as she joined the other women. She turned again in time to see him hobbling to keep up. How many more times will he be able to make the journey? And Lord, who will care for me when he’s gone?
She surprised herself with her accusatory tone. She knew the Lord would provide as he had for their fathers in Egypt and the desert. He provided a son for Sarah, for Rachel, for Hannah. But not for her.
She tried to push the nagging thought aside. A son would have been a fine way to provide, she thought, and then immediately repented. He is in heaven and I am on earth. I must let my words be few (Eccl 5:2).
Hoisting her small water jar onto her hip she hummed a psalm she knew well:
Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
She greeted the group of women and their darling young ones and joined the lively procession. There was no use guessing how God would provide. She knew his answer would likely be surprising.
Dear Lord, Sometimes the wait is long. While I wait, please give me confidence in your great love and perfect plan. When waiting a day seems like a thousand years, help me remember that someday, a thousand years with You will seem like only a day.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Poor, dear Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were regular humans like you and me. Heartache and desire wrestled for prominence in their minds. But Zechariah and Elizabeth are proof that it is possible, by God’s grace, to remain faithful to God even when we feel disappointed with His plan.
What disappointments are you wrestling with today?
How has God shown Himself faithful in your life or the lives of those around you?
Pour your heart out to God. Tell Him your disappointments. Remember His faithfulness and praise Him for it.
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