Devotion That Transcends Adversity

by Sam Hannon | Dec. 12, 2018

Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

LUKE 1:6-7 NIV

Zechariah and Elizabeth. Two characters in the Christmas story that rarely get any airplay. You won’t find their figurines in any nativity set and rarely do they have speaking parts in the local church Christmas pageant. Who are they? The Gospel of Luke tells their story. Zechariah is a priest who is married to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They are the parents of an influential prophet named John the Baptist who was born six months before Jesus. John was assigned by God to prepare the way for the Savior. The Gospel of Luke gives a parallel account of the births of Jesus and John the Baptist in chapters 1-2. There are some similarities in the birth stories. Both accounts begin with an introduction of the parents, involve a visit from an angel, have a miraculous sign, feature a childless woman surprisingly becoming pregnant, and share a parental song of celebration. But there is a major distinction in the two stories. Mary was a young, unwed virgin who never expected to become pregnant while Elizabeth was an older married woman who hoped and prayed to become a mother but never conceived. Let’s focus on Elizabeth’s story.

Elizabeth had lived a life of hope deferred. Her inability to become pregnant had been a life-long struggle and a source of shame. Luke says this about Zechariah and Elizabeth in chapter one:

“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old” – Luke 1:6-7.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story didn’t make sense. Why would God not enable two godly people to have a baby? Why would He not answer their prayers for a child? It seems unfair. Blameless but barren. Obedient but childless. Righteous and without an heir. It doesn’t add up. Sometimes life is like that. We deal with tragic circumstances, unmet expectations, and unrealized dreams.

And in these difficult times, we often question and blame God for it.

Some of the hardest moments for us come when we cannot give a solid answer for “why” something happened. Why did we lose a loved one too soon? Why did we face a drastic career change? Why did we have an accident? Why did we face the betrayal of a friend or spouse? Why would God allow tragedy to come into the life of an obedient follower of the Lord? Zechariah and Elizabeth lived this out. They lived righteously but were childless.

I love how they responded to their circumstance. They continued to follow the Lord. Where do you find them? At the temple. What do you see them doing? Serving the Lord. How did they deal with their struggle? They continued to pray. Their commitment to the Lord was not based on life being easy. They were committed to the Lord in good times and in struggles. They trusted Him even when life didn’t make sense. It is a great Christmas reminder. The Lord is worthy of our allegiance even when life is sour. The Christmas season can often be lonely and painful for many of us. Zechariah and Elizabeth inspire us to live wholeheartedly for the Lord even when life is not going according to plan.

Today’s Reading: Luke 1:1-7 NIV

9 Comments

  1. Carl

    Great reminder to love and trust God even in the hard times.

    Reply
  2. Darla Beller

    Tragedy and hardship seem to beg the question ‘why’. But a better question begins with ‘what’. I think that’s what Zachariah and Elizabeth did. Instead of wallowing in ‘why’, they asked ‘what’. What shall we do with the circumstances we’ve been given? It’s a question that trusts God and desires to serve Him regardless of whether or not they understand the reasons for their difficulties. I so desire to have this same kind of faith. ‘Why’ is me-focused and is rarely productive. Thanks, Sam, for sharing this and reminding us to trust God with every circumstance of our lives.

    Reply
  3. Bryan Craig

    Great word, Sam. Totally ties into what we have been talking about in our Couple’s Journey Group about God’s willingness in our life. When He doesn’t answer prayer, “does it mean He don’t care?”…sorry I just broke into Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayer”.
    We resolved to be like Jesus when He faced the cross- He prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed but then said, “Not my will but yours be done.”
    I think Zechariah and Elizabeth were like that. Our group meets tonight and I plan to discuss this Devo with them.
    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  4. Beth

    Elizabeth and Zachariah inspire us to live lived wholeheartedly for the Lord….I love this phrase!

    Reply
  5. Pearl Lind

    Thank you Sam for these insights. Yes there have often been instances when our family has been tempted to ask “Why God?” However, it is comforting to know that God is working even in adversities that come our way.

    Reply
  6. Pierce McIntyre

    Good words in facing the challenges of daily life.

    Reply
  7. Meni Hansen

    God is good, all the time. Hard to focus on when we’re struggling. Thanks for the excellent reminder to trust, regardless.

    Reply
  8. Michele

    Thank you this is such a good reminder of what my perspective should always be focused toward

    Reply
  9. Joy Newberry

    Thank You Sam!
    Great reminder.

    Christmas and New Year Blessings

    Reply

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Devotion That Transcends Adversity

BY: Sam Hannon | Dec. 12, 2018

Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

LUKE 1:6-7 NIV

Zechariah and Elizabeth. Two characters in the Christmas story that rarely get any airplay. You won’t find their figurines in any nativity set and rarely do they have speaking parts in the local church Christmas pageant. Who are they? The Gospel of Luke tells their story. Zechariah is a priest who is married to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They are the parents of an influential prophet named John the Baptist who was born six months before Jesus. John was assigned by God to prepare the way for the Savior. The Gospel of Luke gives a parallel account of the births of Jesus and John the Baptist in chapters 1-2. There are some similarities in the birth stories. Both accounts begin with an introduction of the parents, involve a visit from an angel, have a miraculous sign, feature a childless woman surprisingly becoming pregnant, and share a parental song of celebration. But there is a major distinction in the two stories. Mary was a young, unwed virgin who never expected to become pregnant while Elizabeth was an older married woman who hoped and prayed to become a mother but never conceived. Let’s focus on Elizabeth’s story.

Elizabeth had lived a life of hope deferred. Her inability to become pregnant had been a life-long struggle and a source of shame. Luke says this about Zechariah and Elizabeth in chapter one:

“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old” – Luke 1:6-7.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story didn’t make sense. Why would God not enable two godly people to have a baby? Why would He not answer their prayers for a child? It seems unfair. Blameless but barren. Obedient but childless. Righteous and without an heir. It doesn’t add up. Sometimes life is like that. We deal with tragic circumstances, unmet expectations, and unrealized dreams. And in these difficult times, we often question and blame God for it. Some of the hardest moments for us come when we cannot give a solid answer for “why” something happened. Why did we lose a loved one too soon? Why did we face a drastic career change? Why did we have an accident? Why did we face the betrayal of a friend or spouse? Why would God allow tragedy to come into the life of an obedient follower of the Lord? Zechariah and Elizabeth lived this out. They lived righteously but were childless.

I love how they responded to their circumstance. They continued to follow the Lord. Where do you find them? At the temple. What do you see them doing? Serving the Lord. How did they deal with their struggle? They continued to pray. Their commitment to the Lord was not based on life being easy. They were committed to the Lord in good times and in struggles. They trusted Him even when life didn’t make sense. It is a great Christmas reminder. The Lord is worthy of our allegiance even when life is sour. The Christmas season can often be lonely and painful for many of us. Zechariah and Elizabeth inspire us to live wholeheartedly for the Lord even when life is not going according to plan.

Today’s Reading: Luke 1:1-7 NIV

9 Comments

  1. Carl

    Great reminder to love and trust God even in the hard times.

    Reply
  2. Darla Beller

    Tragedy and hardship seem to beg the question ‘why’. But a better question begins with ‘what’. I think that’s what Zachariah and Elizabeth did. Instead of wallowing in ‘why’, they asked ‘what’. What shall we do with the circumstances we’ve been given? It’s a question that trusts God and desires to serve Him regardless of whether or not they understand the reasons for their difficulties. I so desire to have this same kind of faith. ‘Why’ is me-focused and is rarely productive. Thanks, Sam, for sharing this and reminding us to trust God with every circumstance of our lives.

    Reply
  3. Bryan Craig

    Great word, Sam. Totally ties into what we have been talking about in our Couple’s Journey Group about God’s willingness in our life. When He doesn’t answer prayer, “does it mean He don’t care?”…sorry I just broke into Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayer”.
    We resolved to be like Jesus when He faced the cross- He prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed but then said, “Not my will but yours be done.”
    I think Zechariah and Elizabeth were like that. Our group meets tonight and I plan to discuss this Devo with them.
    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  4. Beth

    Elizabeth and Zachariah inspire us to live lived wholeheartedly for the Lord….I love this phrase!

    Reply
  5. Pearl Lind

    Thank you Sam for these insights. Yes there have often been instances when our family has been tempted to ask “Why God?” However, it is comforting to know that God is working even in adversities that come our way.

    Reply
  6. Pierce McIntyre

    Good words in facing the challenges of daily life.

    Reply
  7. Meni Hansen

    God is good, all the time. Hard to focus on when we’re struggling. Thanks for the excellent reminder to trust, regardless.

    Reply
  8. Michele

    Thank you this is such a good reminder of what my perspective should always be focused toward

    Reply
  9. Joy Newberry

    Thank You Sam!
    Great reminder.

    Christmas and New Year Blessings

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NWA Christmas