Day 18

Silence and Rejoicing

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Luke 1:18-25, Psalm 113:1-9, Luke 7:18-28

BY Guest Writer

I remember a time when holding out hope felt like more than I could bear. During my first pregnancy, I loved my prenatal appointments because listening to my daughter’s heartbeat was the best sound I could ever imagine. So when I went in for my first visit with a new pregnancy, my heart was filled with anticipation. Would I hear that delicate rhythm of a tiny heartbeat again? After a long pause, my doctor gently told me there was no heartbeat. The silence was overwhelming.

The next time I went into that same office, I was pregnant for the third time, but my heart was so fragile, holding out hope felt like more than I could bear. The risk of believing that something good could happen that day felt so dangerous.

To Zechariah, the angel’s message was too good to be true. The hope of joy was too painful to let in. What Zechariah knew of God’s character, even as a priest, was not enough to convince him. Are we not tempted, like Zechariah, to reason whether God’s promises line up more with His character or our circumstances?

If God’s promise depends on His faithfulness alone, then Zechariah and Elizabeth are ushered into a dangerous hope and joy beyond their imagination. What is the difference between believing that God’s promise depends on us or on Him? The temptation of crippling fear or the thrill of hope, in the face of uncertainty.

Through the angel’s pronouncement of Zechariah’s muteness, God showed His mighty power at work in both him and Elizabeth. God offered him this gift of awe to ponder within. Our doubt cannot stop God from being good to us and will not thwart His perfect plans (Deuteronomy 32:4). That is the kind of God He is.

Even John the Baptist wondered if Jesus was “the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19). Jesus honored his question, reminding him to look at the fulfilled prophecies which pointed him to God’s character, rather than focusing on his circumstances, to determine the truth.

By contrast, Elizabeth received God’s gift with overflowing gratitude, declaring, “The Lord has done this for me” (Luke 1:25). She let the mystery of God’s message draw her deeper into trusting His character. “He gives the childless woman a household, making her the joyful mother of children” (Psalm 113:9). That is the kind of God He is.

This season, there may be days when we are like Elizabeth in our awareness of God’s favor. Other times we may doubt as Zechariah did, too overwhelmed by our circumstances to believe God’s promises. Nonetheless, our gracious God ultimately delivered joy to them both, and offers the same gift to us now: Jesus Christ, our Savior. In our silence and waiting, God is birthing eternal joy in us. That is the kind of God He is.

Brooke Kocher is a wife and mother of three. She is a Southern girl at heart and a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest.

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