Reflection 2: Faithfully preparing

Could this advent be the beginning of your journey?

Luke 1.5-7, 11-14, 23-24 (NIV)

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old…

11 An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…

23 When his time of service was completed, Zechariah returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

A few months before the angel Gabriel visited Mary, he appeared to Zechariah to make this promise, which is then fulfilled soon after. Given their age, it is likely that Zechariah and Elizabeth have been praying for a child for many years – decades, probably – and yet it is not until now that God responds to them in this way.

Their infertility has nothing to do with their faith (or any lack of faith), nor can it be a reflection of how God sees them, as the text makes it clear that they were righteous and blameless before the promise is given. If you have struggled or are struggling with infertility, please know that the same is true for you.

For so many years their circumstances meant that they suffered the pain, sadness, and cultural ‘disgrace’ of not having a child, yet Zechariah and Elizabeth somehow managed to remain focussed on God and sought to follow Him as best they could, despite these circumstances.

It would have been very easy for Zechariah to become closed off or for Elizabeth to become bitter, or for their relationship to deteriorate as they struggled along their path. It is understandable to respond badly to things that hurt us.

Perhaps you have also known the pain of loss and infertility. Perhaps you have battled with illness, or faced a relationship breakdown. Perhaps you have considered fostering or adoption in the past and had a difficult experience. Perhaps you have been waiting a long time for your match.

In some way, you have suffered.

Whatever your story, whatever your journey, whatever your circumstances, we can all learn something from Zechariah and Elizabeth about humility, perseverance, and sacrifice.

For them, things went on to happen in a specific way. For you, things will happen a different way. No two stories are ever the same. But even before they finally got the outcome they had been longing for, Zechariah and Elizabeth were faithful and focussed. Their commitment to the Lord and to one another ensured they were well prepared for what was to come.

It can’t have been easy being older parents, especially when they then defied cultural convention and had to argue the point just to make sure their child had the name that God had chosen for him (Luke 1.57-66).

Their son was John the Baptist, a man of significance with a great purpose, but this meant that he was called to live differently, set apart as a prophet (Luke 1.80). Most importantly, John was imprisoned and then killed at some point during Jesus’ earthly ministry, when John would have been in his very early thirties (Mark 6.14-29 and Matthew 14.1-12).

God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth the opportunity to become parents and they were overjoyed (Luke 1.58,64), but there was pain in that too. Whether or not they lived to see all that happened to their son, it was clear from the outset that their family journey was to be unique and they needed to be prepared for it.

This advent, we want to encourage you to consider fostering or adoption.

This will never be an easy choice and either path will take you on a journey full of challenges, so we also encourage you to be inspired by the faith of Zechariah and Elizabeth, so that you too would be well prepared.

Could you, like they did, choose to ignore cultural convention and do things the way God is calling you to? Could you live differently, recognising that caring for a child that has experienced trauma will require a different kind of parenting? Could you lay aside your own expectations of what family ‘should’ look like, and step more fully into what your family could grow to be?

As we seek to hold on to God’s promises and trust in His ways, even when circumstances are challenging and life hurts, allowing Him to meet us amidst the pain, perhaps He will whisper words of an even greater challenge as He calls us to care for the most vulnerable: His precious children.

If you are feeling prompted to consider fostering or adoption, whatever your previous experiences, we would love to talk and pray with you. Call our enquiry line on 0300 001 0995.

Author:
Home for Good


Date published:
December 2016


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