“Don’t be afraid, your prayer has been heard.” Lk.1:12
Everyone was praying. Zechariah too, on duty burning incense. An angel appears bearing God’s reply. Zechariah is dumb-founded. Had he not expected a response? Had he given up believing? But the God who does more than we can even ask or think (and never forgets a prayer) had a surprise in store for him. Not only would there be a baby in his old age, but this would be a son, a special son-- filled with the Holy Spirit before he was even born, a son who would be ‘great before the Lord’ (Lk.1:15)
Zechariah had wanted a son and had prayed. How long had it been since he had stopped asking, stopped hoping, stopped planting the seed? But God had not forgotten the faith He’d planted in Zechariah’s heart.
And I wonder, what prayer have I prayed long ago with high hopes and young eagerness that has now dwindled in the face of unfulfillment. Or perhaps faded into cynical disillusionment. Things don’t ‘seem’ to be turning out as I’d dreamed. Time to check the dreams against the promises of God to my heart perhaps. What has He promised? Am I planting seeds of faith, praying with hope, looking eagerly for God’s intervention in my days?
Zechariah is left quite literally dumb-founded. Skeptical of the angel’s good news he is left unable to voice his doubt. “You will be silent, unable to speak because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”Lk.1:20 In silence he will wait to see God perform His purpose. He will have no say in the matter. But he does have a role to play—when his days in the temple are complete he will go home and celebrate with his wife. And in God’s time, God’s promise will be fulfilled. Despite Zechariah’s lapse of faith, God remains faithful. How reassuring. But perhaps for me it is not yet too late to call to remembrance the promises given, the prayers prayed in eager faith, and to echo a different reply, Mary’s reply.
When this same angel, Gabriel, came to Mary she asked for some clarification of how his words would come true but was commended for believing. She had the benefit of hearing Zechariah and Elizabeth’s miracle story of course and the reminder that with God ‘nothing will be impossible’. Then she simply responded: “Let it be to me according to your word.” That’s the kind of heart response I want to have.
Let’s share our miracle stories and remind each other that nothing is impossible for our God… then let’s unearth those old God-given hopes and prayers and waft them to heaven like sweet incense while we wait and celebrate what is yet to be. And we shall see what God will do, when the time is right.
“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Lk.1:45