Luke 1:5-7 (NLT)
When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Charles Dickens begins his classic, A Christmas Carol, with these words, “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that… Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail… This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”
Luke also understands the power of a good introduction and gives us the same glimpse into the life of our two main characters of this story.
Luke understands that it is important we realize for the power of this story, that Zechariah and Elizabeth are old. Not just feeling achy in their 40’s old. Not just having a harder time hearing in their 50’s old. Not just struggling to straighten up when they get out of the chair in their 60’s old. Rather, they are very old indeed. The Bible gives us no exact age, but the miracle of the story means less if we think that Zechariah and Elizabeth are in their 20’s, hopping about Judea with vim and vigor and a spring in their steps.
To compound the matter further, they were unable to have any children. We don’t know if it was a problem with her or with him, and it doesn’t really matter. What we do know is that they were unable to conceive, and anyone who has dealt with this issue knows that this struggle results in hours of prayer, rivers of tears, mountains of frustration, hours of unanswered questions, and in today’s world, expensive fertility treatments and adoption.
But there is more to this story. Luke also informs us that Zechariah and Elizabeth were good people. They were upstanding people who honored God with every fiber of their lives. They prayed fervently. They gave generously. They lived righteously. In short, they were good at heart.
Perhaps you know someone like this. They’ve done all the right things all of their lives, but they’ve never gotten what they truly deserved; what they truly desired. It’s heartbreaking to watch. There are no words of comfort or consolation.
However, it is in this setting that something wonderful can come.
Perhaps you are a person like this. No matter how hard you’ve tried, no matter how many good deeds you’ve performed, you’ve never been able to be happy. You’ve never found peace in your life. It’s heartbreaking to experience, and no one can comfort you or provide a good explanation as to why. But we still look for something wonderful.
Despite the distance of time and space, you have more in common with Zechariah and Elizabeth than you may have imagined. We are ALL looking for Hope, for something wonderful to come from this broken story.
Dear God of Hope and Wonder,
When we have no recourse, when we have no answers, when everything we’ve done brings no solutions, we turn to you.
We ask that you would hear our prayers.
We ask that you would heed our pleas.
We ask that you would heal our broken hearts.
Redeem your people. Bring peace, joy, love, and Hopeful Wonder into our lives, we pray.