The Life of Elizabeth Day 3 – Her Wonderful Surprise
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5, ESV)
Don’t you love a great surprise? Some people say they don’t like surprises, but for most of us, we find them so fun, especially in a plot twist that takes a remarkable turn, resulting in remarkable joy, and landing straight on the page of our story! Few plot twists could rival the one in Elizabeth’s story. She was graced with such a joyful surprise! And it came in a way she never would have expected, altering her story forever. But this part of her account can’t really be told apart from some focus on her husband, Zechariah. In fact, the happy news was first announced to him.
As Luke tells in the introductory verses of his Gospel, Zechariah was a priest, a descendant of Aaron and part of the priestly tribe of Levi. We learn from I Chronicles 24 that the priesthood, under King David, was divided into twenty-four groups. Each group was required to serve in the temple twice a year, for one week, the task of each priest decided by lot. On the day that Luke writes about, Zechariah was divinely chosen to burn the incense in the Holy Place. On account of such a rare honor, his heart would have been humbled before the Lord as he quietly and prayerfully prepared to present this offering of worship.
Once inside the Holy Place, his heart likely beating fast and his nerves on edge, you can only imagine the shock he must have felt at the sudden appearance of the angel Gabriel, right next to the altar! And this would only be the beginning of surprising news! The heavenly message with which the angel came was so unbelievable to him that he was rendered deaf and dumb for his doubting of its validity. What was the incredible message? In the words of the angel himself, “Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Luke 1:13).
How incredible! A son? Could it even be possible? Hadn’t the hope for a child been set aside long ago? Hadn’t they contented their hearts and submissively exchanged their will for God’s? All these years God had seemingly said no to their prayers, when, in fact, He had just been asking them to wait—for His timing, for His purposes to be worked out, for His plan to unfold. Apparently, God wasn’t finished writing their story; He had another exciting chapter to add.
On the day Zechariah finally made his way home, his week of service complete, there must have been such chaos and questions and excitement filling their little home as he would have struggled through motions and gestures to share the exciting account with Elizabeth. We aren’t given the details, but it must have been almost more than she could take in. However, as unexpected as the plot twist was to Elizabeth, it was never a surprise to God. Little did she know that He had been working out the longed-for answer to her prayer for many years, more years than she had even been praying for it.
Doesn’t this just bring you so much joy and hope? That the God with whom nothing is impossible might just be asking you and me to wait for that seemingly impossible answer to prayer? God was the divine Author of Elizabeth’s story, and He is the divine Author of ours, too. He gets to write the chapters as He chooses because He knows how He purposes it all to end. Elizabeth’s life story appeared to be complete, only to have God crack open the cover to add a few more lines.
Do you find yourself somewhere in Elizabeth’s story—perhaps at the part where you’ve set aside your prayers for lack of your desired answers? Can I offer you a little hope? Maybe your story has yet to have another chapter added to it. Maybe it’s only a matter of time before God cracks open the cover of your story, and my story, to add a few more details or a few more lines. Maybe we have a plot twist of our own just around the corner!
Yet for now, our prayer for our heart’s deepest desires must be lifted up alongside a prayer for contentment—the exchange of our will for His. No matter what our prayer is or where we are in our journey, might I remind us all that while there is breath in our lungs our stories are still being written. While we remain on this earth there remains hope. And while we can still form the words, there is a prayer to pray. Maybe, like Elizabeth, we are just being asked to wait. So let us wait well, having great faith. And brothers and sisters, while we are waiting, let us lift our hearts and voices in prayer and praise to the One with whom nothing is impossible!
For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37, ESV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13, ESV)