But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John. Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.” – Luke 1:13–17
When your timeline doesn’t align with God’s timeline, when you find yourself falling back asleep on your tear soaked pillow, when you are blindsided by another disappointment, then what?
Will we be found worrying or worshiping in our waiting?
Will our lives reflect the promises of God’s Word?
Through what has felt like an extremely long season of long suffering in my own life, I have at times felt hesitant about getting my hopes up again. Hesitant to believe that life will ever be as sweet and less traumatic as it once was. Hesitant to allow myself to believe that what I have walked through somehow won’t negatively affect my children and me for the rest of our lives. With that said, I know with all my heart that the Lord is good and faithful and is sovereign over all, but if I can be really honest with you right now, there have been times where I’ve been hesitant to allow myself to dream that life can and will be good again.
Put yourself in Zechariah’s shoes. He obviously prayed prayers that heaven heard because Gabriel, the angel who appeared in front of him, told him so. We know that he prayed for something good: he wanted a child.
But there he was, an old man without a child of his own, who began to believe that his time had long come and gone for that season of life. So much so that he even questioned the angel who appeared right before his very eyes.
What happened next was not only mind-blowing to me, but it gives me hope.
Zachariah was not only told that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to bear a son, but a son whose mission was to be a forerunner to Christ! A son who the world would know as John the Baptist.
No big deal, right?
I also love that the angel mentioned joy and gladness. I can only imagine the disappointment that Zachariah and Elizabeth felt as they approached their old age, without the child they had prayed for. But just the mention of joy and gladness reminds me that the Lord sees our tears and has plans to restore our joy again.
The Lord has a track record for providing for His children. We see this weaved throughout Genesis to Revelation. He did it then and He does it now. He doesn’t just give us the bare minimum, but an abundance of goodness, faithfulness and love. He redeems and He restores, in His own time.
The last ten years of my life have met me with more loss, sorrow, and disappointment than I have ever experienced in my lifetime. Death and divorce have threatened to take me out, but hope is what kept me holding on and fighting forward. I naturally have a glass-half-full outlook on life, but I haven’t come this far in my own strength or through my optimistic filter on life. The enemy would love to have me believe that it’s my positivity alone, but I would be greatly deceived to believe that.
Jesus is our strength and our hope.
Repeated grief, loss, and disappointments require more than willpower to get through. We are instructed to ask for strength. A supernatural strength that allows us to hold tight to hope. Even Jesus asked for strength as He was on His way to the cross. If Jesus asked the Father for strength, how could we ever think for a moment that we could make it through without asking for it ourselves?
In our waiting, He is working.
In our waiting, we can worship.
The joy of the Lord is our strength.
May we wait well and hide this truth in our hearts: an answer delayed is not a prayer denied.
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