Wife of Zechariah.
In the culture of the day, barrenness was not exactly esteemed. The thick Jewish traditions that surrounded Elizabeth and Zechariah must have been some of the hardest parts of their lives. Customs, festivals and holidays all involved celebrating with family. Yet they had no children. Year after year, they attended the temple and gathered with family. Yet they had no offspring to pass on their faith. The privilege of giving away your name and inheritance was also a rich part of the history of the Jewish culture. Yet, they had no one to give it to.
Was this heartache all a part of God’s plans?
Oh, the privilege we have to be on this side of history! We know the rest of the story. Elizabeth and Zechariah (in their old age) gave birth to John, the one who would baptize Jesus for the beginning of His public ministry.
Do you wonder how that “hard thing” could ever be used by the Lord?
Luke 1:58 states, “And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her and they rejoiced with her.”
From this one verse we learn several things about Elizabeth.
- She was known by her neighbors and relatives. The relatives, of course, would know her. But her neighbors? Does this actually imply that she shared her “life” with those whom lived right next door? How many neighbors walked the road with her when she struggled with not having children?
- Elizabeth gave praise to God and everyone knew it. The news spread quickly. The Lord had shown great mercy to her. Elizabeth walked with God. Not only in the good times, but also in the hard times. Through all of life’s struggles and heartaches she still was a woman of faith. The trials pushed her towards the Lord. She kept her eyes heavenward even though she didn’t understand.
- Her neighbors rejoiced with her. The news was supernatural. Elizabeth had a baby and she was old! Time for a party. Time to come together. She and Zechariah called for the neighbors to come and give praise to God.
Let’s consider these thoughts for ourselves.
- Are we known by our neighbors? Do they know we struggle? Of course we do not need to divulge all of our lives to everyone around us. But do we allow our neighbors to walk next to us in hard things? Do you share “life” with those who live right next door? Are you a “safe person” for your neighbors to confide in?
- Do we give praise to the Lord in the good and hard things? Are we known to walk with our God in the struggles and heartaches? Are we known as people of faith? Would our neighbors even care?
- If there is something to celebrate in our hard messes, would we want our neighbors to come? Would we want them to join with us in giving praise to the Lord?
Go ahead and read all of Luke 1. Don’t read it like it’s part of the Christmas story. Read it and look for references to being a part of a caring community focused on drawing others to look to Jesus. My guess is, like me, you will see that God’s plans include that we share life with those right around us.
How about your neighborhood? Are you known by your neighbors? Are they known by you? Go ahead … start a neighborhood Bible study and allow God's plans to include your messes. We have all the simple tips and tools you need to get started, and we would love to pray for you, too! Contact us and let us know!
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Joan Parsons, lover of McDonald’s cokes, is happiest when her home is filled with her husband and four children. She reports that her two college age boys come home whenever she offers to cook steak. Her only claim to fame is the week she got every piece of clothing laundered and matched all 126 socks. She had a dream when she was in college that Jesus returned to gather up the Christians to go to Heaven. Except one of her roommates asked her why she never told her about God. She woke from the dream with a lifelong desire to share with others the amazing news of God’s love and forgiveness.