Experience Christmas is a 19-day devotional series based on the Scriptural narrative and aimed at creating space during a beautiful, but hectic time of year to wonder at the miracle of Christmas. You’re joining us on day four, with music from Chris Tomlin and Assad and a devotional about seasons of silence and waiting.
Watch and Listen
Though there is only a page turn in the Bible separating the last verse of the Old Testament with the first verse of the new, 400 years have passed for Israel in which there has been no prophet, no message, no word at all from God. They are tired as a people. Dominated by Rome and spread thin across the Empire, they are hopeless with the exception of their belief in the coming of God’s promised Messiah.
It is out of this silence that God speaks.
The new covenant of redemption is finally set in motion and an angel is dispatched to meet an old, weathered priest entering the temple on assignment to burn incense before the Lord.
Luke 1:13-15a NIV
“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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”
I can picture Zechariah, shaking and terrified in the presence of Gabriel, now reeling from the word he’s been brought. I can hear every logical fiber of his being, screaming at the impossibilities, every wounded place in his heart begging not to be tempted with this kind of hope.
For years Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child. He knew the ancient stories. Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob and Rachel. Hannah and Elkanah. He knew his God could open the barren womb, and yet month after month after month they were denied. The months turned to years, and the years brought with them the inevitable improbability their dream of becoming a family would ever come true.
Anyone who has believed God to be miraculous, and prayed in earnestness for a miracle, understands the complexities of living a life of faith while surviving the context of reality. The silence can be deafening, and the waiting, demoralizing. The season filled with balanced hopes and disappointments is trying and difficult to endure.
That’s why I love that God chooses to break his 400-year silence by speaking directly to the wounded heart of a barren couple. He could have chosen any way to announce to His people the promise was coming, but He chose first to whisper the promise of life into a family, and through the child born to that family, prepare the hearts of all Israel for the Son who was coming.
If you are in a season of silence or waiting –
Remember that God is present, even when it feels like He is not, working behind the scenes of your life for His purpose and His glory. You are never alone.
Redemption is coming.
- Where has there been silence in your life?
- What are you waiting on God for?
- What hope can you gain from Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story to gain perspective for your own faith journey?
Pray that God would give you strength to remain faithful in a season of silence or waiting, and the heart to hear Him when He does speak.
Father I pray that you would be with my friends who are experiencing a season of silence or waiting. These are sometimes the hardest seasons of life to endure. Fill their hearts with peace, and their lives with hope. Give them perspective to keep holding onto your promises, and Jesus speak when they need to hear you most.
For a complete list of devotional posts visit the Experience Christmas series page. Sign up to receive posts directly via email by completing the online subscription form and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #ExperienceChristmasDevotional.