Many people’s prayer lives are deeper, their trust in God is greater, their confession of sin is more thorough, their marriages have been strengthened, their appreciation for worship and the church has grown, their sense of responsibility for others’ well-being has increased, and their relationship with the Lord himself is richer.
The world, it seems, cannot wait to turn the calendar to 2021 and bury the year 2020 as a bad memory. The past year has been full of more hardship than most. Before we turn the page, however, we should ask what God has been doing in us through the vicissitudes of 2020. One answer to that question is this: the Lord has been working faith in his people.
As we approach Christmas and New Year, it’s fitting for us to remember how our Lord worked this same faith, through suffering, in Zechariah the father of John the Baptist. Luke chapter 1 vividly records the story.
Zechariah was dumbstruck for nine months, his vocal cords were quarantined, because he did not believe the promise of Gabriel. The angel had met Zechariah the priest in the temple as he burned incense to the Lord. He announced that old Zechariah and his aged wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son. Their son, John, would be a prophet of God and go before the Lord Jesus. But Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s words. Silenced by God, he endured perhaps the greatest inconvenience and suffering of his life for most of the next year.
Remember that Zechariah is described from the outset of the story as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (1:6). He was a believer, and yet the Lord wanted to work greater faith in him.
What was Zechariah thinking about during his nine months of silence? We don’t know exactly, but he demonstrated his belief in Gabriel’s words when, at John’s birth, he insisted in writing that the boy be named John. “And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God” (Luke 1:64).
[Editor’s note: This article is incomplete. The link (URL) to the original article at Gentle Reformation is unavailable and has been removed.]