WEEK 2: HANG ON TO HOPE / DAY 11: Trust
By Pastor Courtney Hall (Wed. Dec. 8, 2021)
Advent teaches the precious lesson of preparing with patience in a time of waiting. Yet even among people who profoundly TRUST the Lord, long seasons of waiting can lead to harboring a heart of HURT, especially if we fear that it’s "too late" for our hope to come to pass. In Luke’s Gospel we meet two pairs of elderly men & women who had all been waiting in different ways for different things—but each had been waiting a long time. The Lord called these four faithful folks (Mary’s older cousin Elizabeth & her husband Zechariah, an aged man named Simeon, & the widow Anna) to HANG ON TO HOPE in their hearts, yet each one had different hardships to bear in the process of waiting. Over the coming days, we’ll consider each of their situations as we progress through this Advent devotional.
Today we focus on the Virgin Mary's cousin: Elizabeth had never been able to conceive. She & her husband Zechariah were childless (Luke 1:7). Now past her child bearing years, it was too late by human standards and in purely natural, biological terms (cf. Luke 1:18). Elizabeth also suffered the pain of unwarranted shame in her community over her barrenness (Luke 1:25b), for many people in that society commonly (though incorrectly) perceived such childlessness as evidence of God's judgment. Quite to the contrary, though, God had allowed Elizabeth’s emptiness for a time so that when the season came for the birth of her child John the Baptist--the one to herald the coming Christ (Luke 1:13-17*)--her pregnancy gave miraculous evidence of God’s faithfulness to reward those who wait upon Him patiently (Luke 1:25a; cf. Psalm 37:7, 34; Isaiah 40:1, 31; Micah 7:7). Elizabeth kept her TRUST in God, even when she hurt & even as she waited past the point of "too late"—but her trust & patience were ultimately rewarded, for John arrived "right on time."
If Elizabeth had birthed a child in the natural timeline of her years, as she had so long wished, that child would not have been able to fulfill this calling as the one to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah, and that child's birth would not have been a miracle that brought spiritual revival to the country (Luke 1:65-66) & prophetic promise to the world.* It may be that God has you waiting past the time of "too late" on a promise to you because He knows that the promise is about something even MORE than you've yet realized. So take heart & TRUST in the Lord. If the promise is from Him, He never forgets His words. Even when it seems the time has long since passed for the fulfillment, God can do the unexpected & even the IMPOSSIBLE (Luke 1:37)! Don’t give up! Keep your hope alive in Him, for He is alive in you when your faith is in His Word!
SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 1:24-25
"After these days Elizabeth...became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 'This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked [with favor] upon [me,] to take away my disgrace among the people.'"
*Compare also Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6; Mark 1:2-4; Matthew 3:1-3; 11:7-14; Luke 1:76-80; 3:2-6; John 1:23