Do you ever get discouraged trying to do the right thing? I was struck reading the first chapter of Luke the other day. Elizabeth and Zechariah were both very focused on living a good life. Verse 1:6 says they were “righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all the commandments”
What amazes me is that they had been through a huge disappointment. They had been unable to have children for many years. In those days, being childless was seen as a huge shame, sort of a curse from God for bad living. I can imagine their heartache. Hoping and praying for a child month after month, year after year. Living the best life they can, serving God with all their heart. They certainly deserved to be blessed with a child. And yet, they grow very old and God still hasn’t answered their prayers. That’s enough to discourage anyone, maybe even enough to make us want to totally give up on God. Here’s the part that amazes me – neither one of them gives up on life or on God. They keep going, serving God and listening to His commandments day after day for many years.
Then one day, an angel comes to Zechariah and says
“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-15).
God saw that they were really something when no one else did
John is born. Elizabeth and Zechariah are rewarded for many years of patiently serving God despite their hardships and shame. Honestly, I’m not as patient as they are. I get frustrated when things don’t make sense and it feels like God isn’t answering desperate prayers. In the end of this story, God made it clear that He did hear Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers. (Luke 1:13). He brought them great joy and gave them the honor of raising John the Baptist, the man who would lead many to God and prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming. The people around them may have looked at them as disgraced and cursed by God for many years. They waited so long – not because they were cursed but because God saw them as extremely valuable. He waited to give them a miracle and to give them the responsibility of parenting a child who would be a prophet and one of the greatest men who ever lived.
Keep going when it feels like the good you do isn’t being rewarded yet. Keep going when it feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. Keep going when people mock you and when you’re ashamed. Those people don’t really know you. But God does. You’re great in His eyes and it may be that you’re waiting so long because God has something really incredible planned for you.