Do you have or have you ever had a prayer you have prayed for a very long time and you felt like you were just waiting for an answer? Today we are looking at Elizabeth, who was the cousin of Mary and the wife of Zechariah. Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth, his wife was barren, which in those days was a disgrace among men. If you could not have children there was a stigma attached to it. So I think it would stand to reason that possibly Elizabeth had prayed for a long time to bear a child, yet she did not become bitter about it. How do I know that? Well unfortunately scripture doesn’t tell us very much, therefore, we have to look at what it does tell us.
“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” Luke 1:6
This one verse tells us a lot about both Elizabeth and Zechariah. I believe that Elizabeth lived from a grateful heart even before her prayer was answered and really because of her age she had probably given up on getting the answer she desired. Why do I think that? Because she walked blamelessly. When you don’t live from a grateful heart, bitterness creeps in. When bitterness creeps in, I think it would be very difficult to walk blameless. I know that in my life when I feel bitter about something, I get grumpy and in a way even judgmental. I don’t understand why God would bless someone else with something that maybe I have been praying for. Yet Elizabeth was righteous before God and walked blameless.
Then it happened an angel appeared to Elizabeth’s husband while he was performing his priestly duties and gave them the baby reveal they had been waiting for. Zechariah went through a whole range of emotions during this encounter with the angel. He felt fear and trouble in his spirit and doubt and eventually he would have believed. When he questioned the angel about how this could happen now because of he and Elizabeth’s age the angel told him he would not be able to speak again until the prophecy was fulfilled. Zechariah finished his assignment and then went home.
“After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived,” Luke 1:24a
God’s plan had been put into action. But it’s Elizabeth’s reaction I want us to see here.
“and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Luke 1:24b-25
Now I am having to speculate some of what I am about to say here, but I think Elizabeth was so overwhelmed that her prayers were being answered. I think keeping herself hidden for five months was probably all about relishing in the thought that she felt seen by God and she was grateful to Him that she was getting her answer in the way she wanted it. When she says “thus the Lord has done for me” I believe this is her way of being grateful for the answer God has given her. I have had things before I just had to get alone with God for a bit and relish what He did for me. I believe that Elizabeth had learned how to live from a grateful heart already because she walked with God. But this getting alone with Him was just to be grateful to Him. She may have been overwhelmed with her emotions.
Now I’ll admit that I am reading between the lines to get a part of this back story. But I can see it there through what scripture does tell us. The question for us is how do we live from a grateful heart even when we aren’t getting the desired answers? I think we have to live intentionally being grateful for what we do get. Several years ago I read a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. I have mentioned it here before. Ann teaches in this book that she went on a quest to find One Thousand Gifts by writing 3 things every day she was thankful for. It is a way to be intentional about saying thank you. I think it helps me to not just look at the things that I feel like I’m not getting the answers for, but to look at the blessings God has given me. I’m not sure if Elizabeth was intentional enough to think of 3 things a day, but I think her demeanor and countenance that we are given tells us she was already living from this grateful heart even before she received this blessing.
Can you find 3 things you are grateful for today?