10th November 2021, London
Let’s be honest, sometimes God takes us through tough seasons. For me, it felt like the majority of 2021 was a waiting and pruning season tied together with a beautiful big bow. Don’t get me wrong, God has explained to me many times why waiting and pruning are important; In my piece titled ‘The cake beneath the icing’ He explained this so clearly. However, you have to remember I am still human- we all are, which means it’s natural to get frustrated and become increasingly impatient as we wait for the manifestation of God’s promises.
But despite all this, last year I noticed God repeatedly bringing to my attention to a particular word in scripture.
He drew my focus to these verses in the Bible:
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
Luke 1:64 NIV
Coming up to them at that very moment she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:38 NIV
In Luke 1:64, the verse is referring to a man called Zechariah (remember him from our last blog post: ‘Share, but be mindful’)? I once read an article that stated the book Luke contained 30,000 words and within this, the word ‘righteous’ is only mentioned 4 times. To be more specific, it’s mentioned only 2 times when referring to people- Jesus and Zechariah. This highlights how devoted to God he must have been.
Anyway, he was also the husband of Elizabeth and for many many years he would go to the temple, worship and wait on the LORD. He would ask God to remember his wife for they were childless. God saw both the husband and wife as righteous, and yet their answers seemed to remain unanswered. I know many of us in our waiting season are probably questioning why we are waiting particularly when we consistently honor God… just know that even the most holy and blameless of people in the Bible still waited.
On one faithful day, Zechariah was chosen to enter the Holy of Holies, which is in the innermost part of the temple. He encountered an Angel who told him his wife would conceive. He should be jumping for joy right?
Unfortunately he did the exact opposite and questioned the promise out of disbelief. As a result God silenced him and said he would not speak until his promises had been fulfilled! Now anyone who reads this story would be like HA! GOD WHY? It is already bad enough that the man was childless for so many years and now he must walk around as a silent priest? I can’t imagine what Elizabeth said when he got home for dinner.
However, the Word of the LORD of course comes to pass and Elizabeth gives birth to their son- John the Baptist. And not only that, she gives birth to the prophet destined to prepare the way for Jesus Christ – the greatest honor a prophet can ever have! Side note: this points at why God was comfortable playing ‘bad cop.’
Though Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted John earlier, God was happy to give them their child at a much later date. This was because He had a grander plan in mind for the child. He didn’t want John to just be the child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, He wanted him to be the messenger for the Son of God.
This is just like God. We have our plan and timelines, but He has His which is usually more grand. As we wait, we imagine God only has a small gift for us at the end, but God usually has something much bigger than we think.
Let’s just pause there.
Let’s say God takes you through a waiting season where you wait on Him for years with no end in sight. After quite some time, God finally tells you that your promise is coming and then you question this. In doing so, you buy yourself additional time of waiting and pruning. Plus, God takes away your ability to speak. After a period of 9 months, He has mercy on you and He loosens your lips. Then immediately your lips are loosened and you praise him.
Can you say confidently with your heart that you would actually praise Him after such a rollercoaster of a ride?
I know I would find this extremely difficult. Naturally my mind would be thinking “God why did you make me go through this long journey” “Why did you silence me?” In contrast, Zechariah was a man who truly knew how to honor his Father. He put away all the things that had happened in the past and praised God IMMEDIATELY. I remember reading this and feeling God saying to me – ‘I need you to do that.’ ‘When it comes I want you to be like Zechariah.’
My response was “AH???? God?” “But you know your baby now, I can’t do this!”
But you know what, I’m praying God makes me like Zechariah and teaches me how to worship Him immediately without stewing on what happened in the past. He has His own reasons for the path He chooses to take me down, and because I trust Him I can rest on the fact that he’s moulding me into a phenomenal woman. I can rest in the truth that no time waiting is wasted with God.
Similarly, in Luke 2:38, we see the response of Anna the Prophetess who had waited on God for over 70 years. She was a widow who fasted and prayed diligently as she patiently waited for the coming of the Messiah. In this verse, the author describes her demeanour as she encounters the Messiah for the first time. She doesn’t start grumbling and saying “where have thou been” or “it’s a baby I’ve been waiting for?” or “I’ve been here for 70 years!” The first thing she did upon setting her eyes on the promise of God was rejoice and worship. Incredible! Again, as I studied the scriptures I felt God asking me – can you do that? Can you be like Anna?
These questions are very deep! When I read both Zechariah and Anna’s responses I found myself speechless. How could they have done that? They were so gracious and no matter what they had been through, their first response was to honor God and glorify Him for all that He did. I want to be like them – perhaps even better. Would you want this too? I don’t believe this is something
anyone can do alone – one would require the grace and strength of God as well as His wisdom and understanding whilst navigating such seasons.
Dear daddy, would you please teach us how to praise you in all situations? We want to make you proud!
I end by saying don’t stew on how long it took to get His promises. Let us learn to thank God for what He’s doing and for the fact that His promise came to pass. Let’s dwell on His goodness and celebrate His great power. It’s not easy but it’s very important.