"Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." Luke 1:18
This is the question of a man who had lost hope trying desperately to hope again.
Have you ever lost hope?
What caused you to lose hope?
I'm going to guess that it was the same thing that caused Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, to lose hope. They lost hope when the impossibilities of life seemed more real than the possibilities of faith.
Am I close?
Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a culture that negatively stigmatized a woman who found herself unable to bear children. Every time he went to serve in the temple he silently bore the shame of being childless. When he was with the other priests and they talked about their children it was like a dagger to his heart. It had to be awkward for the other priests to be careful not to speak of their children around Zechariah to spare him the pain. It was hard for them to not think of him as a second-class citizen and most days he felt like one.
These were very good and faithful people who had spent their lives sacrificially serving their God. During those many years they had pleaded with God for a child and no child was given them. For years they bore this shame and must have secretly wondered why God had forgotten them.
Now the ravages of time and the realities of old age had drained them of any hope that may have remain in the remote places of their souls.
At the most improbable moment of their lives God sent his angel to ask Zechariah to hope again. And while he wanted to his "hoper" had timed out. That is quite obvious in the question he asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
How is your "hoper" this morning? Have you stopped asking or even thinking, "How can I be sure of this?"
Have you, like Zechariah, limited your faith to a focus on the impossibilities of your situation and stage of life?
Here's some good news from this story!
When you have run out of faith in yourself (or even in God) He hasn't lost faith in you!
When you have lost your hope God still has hope for you!
Let's change the focus from Zechariah's hopeful question to the angel's hope-filled response, "The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news."
How can you restore hope?
Here are a few tips from this true story"
1) Refocus on the source of hope - God's will expressed in God's Word!
2) Remember God's patience is not limited to your impatience. His timing is not tied into your day-timer, your schedule, your calendar or your convenience!
3) Realize what you thought was God's "no" to your prayers might just be a "not now"!
4) Recognize that God's delay is not to deny you of your desires but to prepare to fulfill His!
So, Christmas reminds you there is hope for your struggling "hoper".