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God’s Timing Is Perfect
Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray that you will help me imitate Elizabeth’s trust and Zechariah’s patience. Please bestow on me the spirit of exuberant expectation that the people in the hill country of Judea had.
- God’s Timing Is Perfect in Big and Small Ways: Due to Elizabeth’s advanced age and previously barren state, the fact that she was giving birth was miraculous. Everyone knew, everyone was talking about it. God used this opportunity to showcase that, with him, all things are possible. According to Jewish law, a baby boy is to be circumcised and named on the eighth day of his life. What a joyful time this must have been for the formerly childless couple. Modern science has discovered that on the eighth day of life blood in the human body is at its height in its ability to coagulate. It rises on the seventh day and decreases on the ninth. Not one tiny detail of life escapes God’s plan. John would be brought up to be a “good Jewish boy,” marked as a “son of the covenant,” and the circumstances of his birth with the entire community present gave God an opportunity to display his miraculous wonderworking power! Even when we may feel “forgotten” by God, we can rest assured that the God who caused the barren to give birth very late in life, and blood to clot at 110% on the day of circumcision, has not forgotten the details of our lives as well.
- Patience Is Rewarded: Zechariah was a priest and a man of prayer. He had apparently been praying for a child for a very long time. When the angel Gabriel appeared to him in the temple as he offered incense to the Lord, Gabriel stated, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you shall call his name John.” Persistent prayer pays off. But, instead of praising God at this wonderous revelation, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s words and was therefore made mute for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Perhaps, God was allowing a seed of faith to be planted in Zechariah and giving some time for it to grow to maturity, so his faith, like Elizabeth’s, would “give birth” in the fullness of time. When Zechariah finally speaks, we see that instead of excuses, anger, or bitterness, only the fruit of praise gushes forth from his lips. God can “sideline” us in order to give us time to mature in our faith before we are able to be greatly used for his purposes. Be patient with yourself; God is not through with you yet.
- Expectation, Fear, and Astonishment: “A baby! At her age?” What must the townspeople have thought? “And Zechariah! Mute, now speaking?!” Wonder. Fear. Astonishment must have swept through the region. “Is there anything too hard for God? What will he do next?!” must have been stirring in their hearts. “Who and what exactly will this child be?” Expectations on the highest level. Oh, that we would have such expectant hearts! Although we see the wonders of each new day, we can grow cold to the everyday miracles of life every baby born, every sunrise, the earth spinning on its course. Let us not grow jaded, cold, or blasé, but be expectant of great things in and through the Lord. May we beg for hungry eyes to see the Lord at work, an eager mind to know him, and an excited heart to explore what he will do next, not only because he loves us, but also just because he can!
Conversing with Christ: How difficult it must have been for Elizabeth to be shunned and barren for the majority of her life, and Zechariah to be made mute! And yet you, in your great love for mankind and tenderness for this couple, had a beautiful plan to bless them, and the whole world through them. Grant me faith, perseverance, patience, and an expectant heart. May I not grow cold, but be warmed thoroughly, through and through to the very core of my soul, by your permeating love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will choose to persevere in patient trust with an expectant heart, knowing that you are a sovereign God and that my life does not escape your loving gaze or plan. Your timing is always perfect.
For Further Reflection: The Day When Blood Coagulation Begins.
Melissa Overmyer is a convert to Catholicism; founder of the Georgetown Women’s Bible Study and Something Greater Ministries; and author of Born to Soar, Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life, a weekly blog at www.somethinggreater.net, and daily posts on IGTV (melissaovermyer). She is working on her master’s degree in Theology at Augustine Institute.