I mentioned last week that I am going to be writing a brief series on the wonder of Christmas. The Gospel accounts of Christ's birth never cease to amaze me. Every year I find myself overwhelmed by all that God reveals to us through these short verses in the Bible.
One such story that moves me is the one of Zechariah and Elizabeth. During our period of infertility (brief by their standards!) this story ministered to me in so many ways. In that time period, to be barren was a cultural death sentence. To be unable to bring a child into the world meant you were viewed as cursed. Yet, they remained faithful. Luke 1:6 tells us:
"And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord."
I can only imagine what years of infertility would do to a person and their trust in God. It can go two ways, can't it? You can either renounce God for his perceived failure to give you what you've asked for, or you can trust him for his good plan for your life. Zechariah and Elizabeth did the latter. And God remembered them.
And isn't that just like God--to wait until the man-made attempts at anything are completely out of the question? There was no physical way possible for Elizabeth to conceive, and yet she did. God keeps his promises.
So what does it look like to wait well this Advent season, and every season? Luke goes on to say that Zechariah continued to serve in his role as priest (vs. 8). And he continued to pray. In all of his years of longing and waiting for God to open his wife's womb, in his old age he remained faithful. Faithfulness is measured by the daily obedience's. It is seen over the long haul, when hope seems gone and circumstances are overwhelming. Faithfulness is seen in trusting in the One who keeps us faithful to the end. That is what Zechariah and Elizabeth did. Every year, when God seemed to be forgetting them yet again, they continued to trust him.
But they didn't just trust him for their personal lives. They trusted him for the salvation of their own people as well. I don't think it is a coincidence that the waiting of Zechariah and Elizabeth for a child is placed within the greater story of the people of Israel waiting on their Messiah. They weren't just waiting for a baby. They were waiting for God to fulfill his promises to them through the long-awaited Christ. Their righteousness before God was evidenced by their faithfulness in waiting for both of these things when many around them would (and had) long given up.
We can learn a lot from them about waiting well. Whether we are waiting for God to answer a personal prayer or a collective prayer for his return, we are all waiting for something. Do we give up when it feels like it's never going to be realized in our lifetime? Or do we continue to entrust ourselves to the God who hears and answers every prayer in his time?
May we all learn to wait well this Advent season and in the years to come.