1st November 2018

The Wait

“The angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.’”
Luke 1:13-14 (NRSVA)

I feel for Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. He is most famous for not believing the angel Gabriel’s announcement that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant. However, the words of the angel tell us that Zechariah was a man of prayer; he had an active faith. Somewhere in the past, Zechariah had asked God for the blessing of children, but his prayer remained unanswered. Luke tells us that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth “were getting on in years.” (Luke 1:7, see also Luke 1:18). To keep praying for children must have felt more like testing rather than trusting God, so he stopped.

I guess there comes a point when we all have to decide whether our prayer has become an act of testing God rather than trusting God. The temptation to test God is always there in the background. About 30 years after Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah, Satan tried to push Jesus into testing God. The Devil suggested that Jesus should throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple – to prove God’s love for Him. If God really loved Jesus, then He would send angels to catch Him. Our Lord rebuked Satan for such an idea; Jesus would have none of that subtle deception (Luke 4:9-12).

Who amongst us hasn’t had to wrestle with seemingly unanswered prayer? We all have suffered the disappointment of times when God appears to be silent; we all can connect to Zechariah’s plight. There are prayers that you and I have stopped asking over the years. We don’t know why God never answered them as we wished. Maybe with tears we ended those prayers.

When Gabriel turns up and declares that Zechariah’s prayer is answered – well, who can criticise his reluctance to believe? That surely was a bolt from the blue! God had made Zechariah wait. In waiting, Zechariah found himself intimately involved in God’s great story of redemption. Not only would Zechariah experience the joy of being a parent – his son John would be the one to prepare the way for Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

Yes! God is working to redeem all things. We are intimately involved in His redemptive actions today. Yet, we also wait. We do not see the fullness of God’s redemption today. Like the rest of humanity, we bear times of disappointment, pain and grief. When the answer is ‘wait’ this reminds us that we trust God. We give our frustrations and limitations to Him and wait.

God has promised that there is coming a day when all of our waiting will stop. The fullness of salvation will be revealed to all. On that day, as we sing together in praise of our great God, we will remember the words of Isaiah: “It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:8).

Prayer
Father, we all suffer from disappointments in life and wonder why you did not step in to bring a different ending. Yet, we know you are trustworthy. Through Jesus, you have planned the redemption of the entire universe. Help us in difficult times; times when we are tempted to test rather than trust in you. We thank you that your Spirit abides with us, always pointing us back to your faithfulness. We ask this in our High Priest’s holy name, Jesus Christ.
Amen

Study by Ian Woodley
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About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International (Gracecom for short).

Local Congregation:
Gracecom, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EDINBURGH
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: peter.mill@gracecom.church