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Faithful Failures?

Luke 1:5-7
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well on in years. (NIV)

lf God is on your side, why is life littered by unwanted challenges and broken dreams? Luke is introducing us to Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth - a godly, devout, faithful couple who obeyed the Jewish rules. They were both descended from Aaron so Zechariah was a priest who served in the temple, and any male children would, automatically, have become priests. But there was not even one child. This was also a personal spiritual problem because, in the Old Testament, fertility was a mark of God's blessing. No child, and in some way, God must be displeased. So this couple tried as hard as possible to be as good as they could.

They did not seem to have faith that Elizabeth might be like Abraham's wife, Sarah, who was also well past the menopause when God gave her a child. They just plodded on with their religious routine but with that constant underlying sadness of disappointed hope: probably also with that unwanted feeling of being not good enough for God. They were faithful, but failures in their own eyes. The story will turn out very differently as we shall see, but for now; the stage is set with 'hopelessness' written all over it.

It is easy to see God triumphing over circumstances, when they have been miraculously resolved; or to understand His purpose of painful years in preparation, after His masterpiece is revealed. But during the trials, the battering from people outside or the weariness of internal doubts, the future can look like a fog. Yet that is where many of us live, spiritually speaking. God has not allowed us the luxury of knowing how today's confusion will be resolved, or when the perfect solution will arrive to disarm the fear of impending disaster. In the following verses we shall see how God led Zechariah and Elizabeth through a roller-coaster experience to a glorious outcome, rather like Paul's comment in Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." That is the way God works. So even if you cannot see it, or dare not even imagine it, God is powerfully at work. His plans are always greater than ours, and His power is more than enough to achieve what He plans. Ask God to help you to trust Him in the crisis you face today, or in the lingering sadness that has dulled you for many years.

Prayer 
Dear Lord. I cannot understand all of the way You have led me, including its hardships and painful mysteries. But help me to believe that You can fulfil all that You choose to do through me and for me. Help me to grow in confidence that Your Will shall be done, and that it will be good for me as well as for the glory of Your eternal Kingdom. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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