This week’s book club chapter from “Your Faith Affects Your Family” is on Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist. While I’m enjoying the book club, I really feel as if the author missed the mark on this chapter. It focused on her righteousness, but I think it should have focused more on her character. This was a woman that was “stricken in years”. She was a lady that was probably either beyond child baring years or right on the cusp. Yet she and her husband remained faithful to the Lord. What amazes me is that her husband, Zacharias, was also faithful to the Lord and he still led his family spiritually despite not being able to have children- which in those days was a pretty big deal because people thought you were cursed or had lost favor with God. BUT– Deuteronomy tells us in chapter 7, verse 14 that “Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.” There are exceptions to this because it’s the pleasure of God to make himself known and magnify his power in conception by any person. And God allows trials in people’s lives to help them grow. No amount of obedience can bring immunity. Yet they still cared more about the Lord thought of them than man. We can see evidence of that in Luke 1:6, “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Yet, we are still shown man’s weakness when Zacharias saw an angel standing on the right side of the altar in Luke 1:13, “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for they prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” Zacharias was a man of God, but still only a man. He has human weakness. God gave us His word because it excites faith as we meditate on it. (Romans 10:17). Even real believers are apt to dishonor God by unbelief. God took Zacharia’s voice, yes, but He was also gracious and gave Zacharias a sign to help him believe! And after he had been told that his wife will conceive (by an angel of the Lord no less!!) he still continued to work. What dedication to the Lord’s work! What contentment! Could you have continued to work after all that? I don’t know if I could have!
Then we get to Elisabeth. She’s cool as a cucumber during this entire ordeal. She’s pregnant, her husband can’t talk, and here comes her younger cousin Mary– also with child. We are told in Luke 1: 41 that she was “filled with the Holy Ghost” and her baby leaped in her womb when Mary greeted her. Here is where I see her character: in Luke 1:42-45, Elisabeth loudly proclaims what a blessed woman Mary was to be the mother of her Lord. While she knew she had been honored by God, she recognizes Mary had been infinitely more honored. What humility! What self-abasement! Elisabeth waited an entire lifetime to have a baby and her cousin “steals her thunder”. She could have easily been ugly, rude, or distant, but instead she is filled with joy at the news! This part speaks to me in such a personal way. Having lost a baby late term only to be surrounded by friends that are expecting only weeks from my original due date is a very real, very hard thing to endure. It’s a struggle daily to be filled with the spirit the way Elisabeth was and feel joy for my friends. But God does not always give according to our asking, but according to the riches of his grace. Dear friend: the Lord hasn’t forgotten you or me. Don’t chafe and fret under the burden. Keep faithfully living for Him and remain patient. God is a God of the impossible.
So then Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.