Oh really? How can you say that? Do you really believe it? In our world today, it seems that many have decided that God is not gracious. He is some far off God who doesn’t care about what happens to us. If He is so gracious and so merciful why doesn’t He do something? Why is He allowing me to go through this?
Have you ever felt this way? I have. In 2001, God called home my Daddy, my step-grandfather, my Uncle and I also lost my job. For over 10 years my husband and I prayed, begged for a child, while watching other couples walking away from their children. Why me? Why us? Did not God care about us? We were doing our best to live for Him, why was it so hard on us.
While, I may not know all the truths, I have seen many blessings come from those dark times. I look back now and I know that God was gracious to me. He was merciful. Hard times are going to come to us all. Never has God said that life would be easy. He never promised that. He did promise that He would be with us and carry us when we could not carry ourselves.
In his dark and lonely times, Zechariah never gave up His faith in God. But, I believe there were times He asked God why. Why had God withheld children from him and Elizabeth. In those days a barren couple were seen as poor, sinful and outcast. Yet, Zechariah was a priest. I can imagine that the locals kept the gossip and rumors circulating. Surely, Zechariah was being punished by God. Or, maybe it was Elizabeth. I can hear the whispering now as the ladies gathered at the watering hole. I can hear the “do you think” and the “I bet” as they tried to figure out why Elizabeth was barren.
How little did they know that it was all a part of God’s plan. Like so many times before and even now, God is working in our lives when we fail to see it. The dark days are just a mere tunnel we are going through before we bask in His glorious light. The hardships are just a shadow of the upcoming blessing.
When Zechariah entered the temple on that day, little did he know it was the day of the “Glorious Unfolding” of God’s grace and mercy. Never before had God spoken to a priest, it had always been a chosen Prophet, or a chosen man of God. Never to one who was born into the priesthood as Zechariah had been. Zechariah was merely doing as he had been taught to do.
He was honoring God even when it seemed God has chosen not to honor him.
Suddenly in the darkened room a glorious light appeared as the angel Gabriel came and stood before him on the right side of the altar. Just when Zechariah was offering the Offering of Incense, the offering of praise from one who’s sin had been atoned by the blood of the sacrifice, God’s plan began to be revealed.
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. (Luke 1:13)
John? John! Why John? Why not Zechariah the second? Or some other great name. John? Sounds like such a simple and ordinary name, but it was so much more than that because John, means God is gracious!
God is gracious.
Now we would scoff and laugh at that had it not been for the verses that followed:
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
After all these years of waiting, God was given Zechariah and Elizabeth what they had prayed for. What they had yearned and longed for–A son. Their faith, their perseverance, their obedience through the roughest and darkest days had not gone unnoticed by God.
Now God could have answered that prayer long before. He could have given them a child in their younger days. He could have blessed them with a houseful of children. Yet He waited. Why? Because He had a greater plan and a greater blessing in store for this righteous couple.
Had John come earlier, he would not have been a miracle. Had he been born while his parents were young, he would have been as any other child.
In the blessing of God’s timing, John was going to be so much more.
He would bring joy and gladness not only to Zechariah and Elizabeth, but to all people. He was a blessed and chosen son of God. Many would rejoice not only at his birth, but later on as John preached the coming of the Lord many would rejoice through repentance and baptism. The son they had longed for was going to be a great man of God like unto the great prophet Elijah. He was more than an ordinary son, he was God’s chosen one to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, the Messiah.
What a blessing among blessings. Every child is a gift of God, yet few are gifted of God. The answer to Zechariah’s prayer was going to be a blessing to all mankind. Just as they had longed for, they had mourned for, and they had begged for, the children of God had done also for the Promised One. And their son, their son, was going to be the forerunner of Emmanuel.
And so it is with you and I. Just when we have reached the end of our rope, just when it seems all hope is lost. Just when it seems a miracle is out of reach, God steps in with a “Glorious Unfolding” of His master plan for our lives. No matter where you are today, God has not forgotten you. Just as He had greater plans for Zechariah and Elizabeth, He has greater plans for you.
Your dark times are just the shadow of the blessings to come.
God is gracious!
Hold on my friend, God’s always on time. Your “Glorious Unfolding” is just around the bend.
Father, remind us of Your promises. Remind us that our darkest times are mere shadows of the blessings to come. Help us to remain faithful to You even when the world says You are not faithful to us. Remind us of Your mercy and Your grace. Remind us that You are not a far away God who is not touched by our tears. Help us to remember in those times we can not move for the pain, You are the One carrying us. Thank You for the shadows of the Blessings. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for Your unfailing love. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.