Since Easter I've been very slowly reading through the first chapter from the Gospel of Luke - very slowly because the miracle God bestowed on Zechariah and Elizabeth moves me to tears, joy, and thanksgiving. I've read it over and over each morning this week, highlighting the verses that resound in my heart before closing the cover of my Bible to reflect on them for the rest of the day.
Digging deeper into this chapter you realise the immense shame Elizabeth carried for all her married life, which we know must have been a long time because she is recorded as being "well along in years" (verse 18). Jewish culture said that to be barren was a curse, and I can only imagine what this precious woman carried in her own heart and thoughts when each month the tell tale sign that her womb was empty became public knowledge in her village. Did the other women gossip about it at the well? Were eyes averted as she walked by, numerous stories passed between neighbours over 'what' she must have done to be cursed?
Years and years she endured the shame and disgrace of being childless ( verse 25) yet her husband was a priest, serving in the Temple, and they loved the Lord.
Life can be like that can't it?
We love Jesus, we serve Him, yet it seems that our lives are 'barren' of blessing. Whispers may pass our hearing that we must be doing something terribly wrong - like not giving enough, not forgiving enough, hiding secret sins, being punished for our past mistakes...so many stories will come from the minds of those on the outside looking in.
And maybe we believe them, perhaps we doubt our worth in God's eyes.
I have felt that way. Many times. Even recently.
Which is probably why the Holy Spirit led me to read Luke chapter 1 - so he could show me my doubts and fears are unfounded.
God allowed Elizabeth to live in public humiliation and shame for a very long time, and naturally this would have reflected on Zechariah as well. The two of them would have shared that loss of hope every month - perhaps over two decades or more - and as the years passed and they entered old age I believe all shred of hope withered away and they finally accepted a future with no-one to care for them and no-one to bless with a parent's love or inheritance.
But then GOD.
At the right moment, His moment, His perfect timing...blessing, purpose, JOY.
We are not here to live every day in bliss or to be given all we want at His hand.
We are here to glorify Him, to share Jesus, to wait in hope for the day when this broken life passes into something so magnificent that there are no words to describe it.
And perhaps we won't see a miraculous blessing on earth like Elizabeth and Zechariah did, though maybe we will. In the big picture, the eternal picture, the greatest blessing is yet to come and if we love our Saviour and do not deny Him, then it is ours as promised and paid for. Signed, sealed and delivered.
So I'm thinking about the removal of Elizabeth's shame right now, and knowing - KNOWING - that will happen for me too. In His time. In His perfect way.
Download this week's Scripture card and devotion HERE