Heroes and Villains: Elizabeth
It's always interesting to me how different husband and wives can truly be. We can have moments where one demonstrates great faith where the other is lacking it. We can have moments where one shows great peace and confidence in God where the other only sees chaos and doubt. Sometimes with my own husband, we have moments where one demonstrates complete impatience where the other steps up with calm, peace, and complete patience.
In Elizabeth's story, we see a moment where she and her husband respond so differently. We have this beautiful moment where Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him "God has heard YOUR prayer for a son." I've never noticed that one small but significant word "your." God has heard YOUR prayer. It's so significant because Gabriel shows up to tell him that Zechariah's prayer has been answered, this is what's going to happen, and by the way, your son's name is to be John. Yet, Zechariah doubts. "How shall I know this?" He doubts that Gabriel's word is true and ultimately, he doubts that God has answered his prayer. HIS prayer.
Elizabeth seems to have a completely different response. She finds herself pregnant and attributes her blessing completely and wholeheartedly to God. Maybe Zechariah was able to communicate his encounter with Gabriel. Maybe he wasn't. But she didn't look at her pregnant self and think, "I can't possibly be pregnant! I'm too old!" No, she praises God for looking at her, bestowing His beautiful blessing, and for improving how her community saw her. She never doubts God's hand in her season of pregnancy. She never doubts that He made her barren womb capable of growing and sheltering her unborn miracle baby. She accepts the season and exhales praise to God!
Read Luke 1:5-66
Elizabeth was righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. She was living a life that God couldn't help but bless! This is such an important verse in the Bible because there was a belief that if you were barren, if you had a disability, if something bad was happening to your or your family, it MUST be because of sin. Elizabeth shows us that it's not always the case. She wasn't barren because of a sinful heart. She wasn't barren because God was angry with her. Maybe God had not allowed her to get pregnant up until this point because He had other plans in store for her. Her inability to have children hadn't hindered her resolve to walk blamelessly. It hadn't hindered her resolve to continue living righteously. When something isn't going the way we want it to, what is our response to God? Do we stop praising Him? Do we hold back because our heart's desire hasn't been realized yet? Elizabeth pressed on and didn't hold back from God!
Elizabeth knew her child came from the Lord. She was thankful that He "took away my reproach before the people." She gave praise where praise was due. She honored God with her complete joy. She praised Him for letting people see that she was deserving of the blessing of a child too.
Nothing is impossible with God. Not even a virgin birth. Not even a barren womb becoming fertile. Not even having a baby well after menopause. NOTHING is impossible with God. I love how this particular truth was revealed to Mary in a conversation between Mary and the angel. I love that line of "who was called barren." What do we hang onto? What rumor, what long-held identity, what circumstance do we hang onto, believing that God can't do anything about? Elizabeth could have held onto her "barren" identity, but she joyfully traded it in for the birth of her son. What are we willing to let go to see God work the impossible with?
She stood on God's promises AND chose to be obedient, no matter how people might try to sway her. Sometimes what God calls us to do in obedience to Him puts us in the realm of the crazy. To the physical world, we simply look foolish and silly. I remember this one time watching a girl just sitting in our church's parking lot. Why? Because God told her to wait because someone was going to give her the money she needed to go to camp. It was silly. Why would someone just hand anyone the exact amount of money she needed, especially if she hadn't asked for it? She looked silly in that parking lot, just sitting around and waiting. She fielded a lot of questions of "What are you doing?" Sure enough, she received the full amount of money she needed for camp!
I think of Elizabeth when it came to naming her son. She was choosing to give him a name that wasn't even a family name and her community thought she was crazy and mistaken. They dismiss her, it seems. Soon Zechariah backs up his wife and her son is called John. She must have looked a bit silly, insisting that his name was John. She must have felt a bit silly, but still, she wouldn't obey God half-way. She stood her ground. She stood on God's promises for her son. She obediently named him John. No one could sway her from obeying God fully!