"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace."
Today's Reading: Luke 1:67-80 (NIV)
“I’ve gotten used to it. Asking for what my heart desperately wants and knowing it can never be.
What good would it do to keep asking? These old bones have grown brittle. Our once fertile land is a barren womb. Again, I ask, and again, nothing.
I remember when You used to speak like thunder, but that memory fades with every unanswered prayer. I wonder if trusting in You is just enduring the years while the darkness presses in and I sink into the shadows of an endless, silent night.
Then, sudden as the sunrise I am the one silenced. Mercy upon tender mercy You have given to me.
You leave no prayer unanswered, no promise undone. Your faithfulness turns silence into song.
My doubts retreat, and my heart fills with hope. The long darkness surrenders to the dawning of light.”
With earbuds in, I tapped my phone and pushed play to begin listening to the latest Advent download from Fellowship Worship – “Can You Hear the Sound?”
The words in the previous three paragraphs are from a reading titled “Zechariah’s Confession.”
Zechariah was a priest. He was a righteous man. He was old. For years, he and Elizabeth have prayed for a child. For years, the pregnancy tests showed negative. Years turn into decades, and prayers of expectancy dissolve into quiet resolution that it was not meant to be.
Have you ever prayed for something for a long time? With no apparent answer, you resign yourself to stop praying and get back to work and get on with life. But what if “that” prayer might still be answered? Nah, you’ve gotten over it, to continue hoping is too painful. Such is Zechariah’s context when the angel Gabriel comes to him and announces he and Elizabeth are going to have a baby! He can’t believe it. Gabriel’s response to the unbelief is to mute Zechariah. What initially looks like punishment is a gift. Zechariah is given nine months to quietly think about God’s faithfulness and goodness in a deeper way. He is given margin to process, and in silence develop a vocabulary of praise that emerges from a heart that ponders. The weariness of Zechariah’s belief did not limit God, nor anger Him. God transformed Zechariah’s doubt into the proving ground of His grace and power.
Elizabeth gives birth; it is a boy! On the eighth day following, it is time to circumcise him and give him a name. The plan was to name him after his father. Elizabeth makes it known his name will be John.
Those gathered turn to Zechariah for affirmation. Still mute, he writes on a tablet, “His name is John.”
Suddenly an eruption of audible praise flows from lips silenced for months. Zechariah sings a song of thanksgiving and redemption known as "The Benedictus." It is a song of praise and hope, mercy, and peace. It is a song of answered prayer.
As you pray “that” prayer once again, place your confidence in God’s capacity to make Himself known, not in your ability to make it work out. Don’t fear His answer or His timing, because He loves you as He loved Zechariah. As you wait, receive this time as a gift, getting to know God in deeper ways. As you wait, allow Him to transform your doubt into the proving ground of grace and power. As you wait, download “Can You Hear the Sound,”
and let Fellowship Worship equip you with a vocabulary of praise that emerges from hearts that ponder.