She had probably attended the births of her nieces and nephews, had rejoiced with her sisters and cousins and friends at the births of their babies, had seen their babies at breast while her own breasts yearned the suckle of a child yet unconceived. I suspect she had gone home crying, once again pleading with the Lord for a baby of her own. I watched my sister go through this agony for years – baby showers for others, never for her own. Many of you know her pain.
Elizabeth and her husband had followed the Lord faithfully through the years. They were upright. Yet their prayers had not been answered. They must have wondered why. They undoubtedly thought that by this time their prayers would never be answered. Why? Because now, Elizabeth was old and barren. Her time of bearing children had passed. Medically, by the “world’s eyes,” childbirth was impossible.
Zechariah “was speechless,” we read. He was literally speechless when he came out of the temple where the angel Gabriel had just told him that He was going to be a father. He and Elizabeth – “barren” Elizabeth – in their old age would have a son.
You’ve heard the story before – particularly near Christmas time, as it is found in the first chapter of St. Luke, in which we continue to read the “Christmas story.” This portion about Elizabeth and Zechariah is not a story lost in time. It is not a story unrelated to me – or to you. This is my story. And I suspect it is yours, as well.
An unanswered prayer. Years of “Why?” Years of crying. Of pleading. Of thinking perhaps it is too late. Of being told by the world that it is impossible – that God doesn’t work that way today – that God has other plans. Of doubts put in your mind unintentionally by others. Of doubts put in your mind intentionally by an enemy who relishes and laughs at your pain and suffering.
Keep praying, my friend. Ask God to send Gabriel. Know that God loves you. And listen to Jesus whisper.
The angel, Gabriel, was standing at the right side of the altar of incense when he brought this news to Zechariah. Similarly, our prayers are kept in golden bowls of incense before God. They continue to rise up before God. Like praise. Like sacrifice. Our prayers are not lost in translation. They are not misplaced on their way to the throne. They are not ineffective. Instead, they are powerful! Powerful!
So we must continue to pray, as the Psalmist, asking the Lord to “come quickly to me . . . to hear my voice.” And offering the “lifting up of my hands . . . like the evening sacrifice.” Because your prayers matter to Him. And because if you are His child, God favors you. Elizabeth, with child, praised God, saying, “The Lord has done this for me. . . In these days he has shown his favor . . . ” God may not answer in the same manner, but I encourage you – He favors you, His beloved! I also encourage you – My sister birthed her baby, nursed her baby, and raised her beautiful daughter. He will answer your prayer, too. He desires to. You are His beloved.
In this season of advent, Jesus Whispers to me:
“Cry out for the mighty power of God to be displayed, Kathi. Never give up. Ask for the “favor” of the Lord. Ask the Father to send Gabriel.”
Keep praying, my friend. Ask God to send Gabriel. Lift your hands in praise. And listen to Jesus whisper. God loves to do the impossible.
(From Luke 1:5-25; Rev. 5:8, 8:4; Psalm 141:1,2)