This essay is a follow up to the Extraordinary Women of the Bible study. We recommend first completing your lesson and discussing it with your group before reading this post.
What are you waiting for?
By: Dorabeth Hickernell
Are you waiting for something?
How long have you been waiting? Days? Months? Years?
What have you been doing while you are waiting?
In Luke 1, it is recorded that Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zechariah, was waiting for a baby. Elizabeth had been waiting for a child for nearly her entire life. The Bible describes her as an old woman, barren and ashamed. Throughout her life, Elizabeth along with Zechariah had often prayed for a child. Seemingly, nothing was happening. While they waited for God to answer their prayer, Elizabeth and Zechariah lived intentionally, observing all of the Lord’s commandments. Elizabeth and Zechariah were considered to be upright in the sight of God and blameless. Yet still, no baby came.
How might Elizabeth have felt? How do you feel when your prayers seem to go unanswered for a very long time? The Bible does not record how Elizabeth felt but many can testify to the agony of waiting. When the days drag on with no answer to prayer in sight, the deadly “d’s” often set in. Discouragement, distress, doubt, despair, and disillusionment take up residence and long overstay their welcome.
Elizabeth would have had no way of knowing how or when God would answer her prayer for a baby. But God knew all along. His plans for Elizabeth had been set since before the creation of the world and he would roll out his plan right on schedule. No one and nothing can thwart God’s purposes. God had planned on a baby for Elizabeth and not even long-standing infertility, old age and a doubt-filled husband could thwart his plan.
What was Elizabeth thinking about as she waited for God to answer her prayer? Did she recall God’s faithfulness to his people in the past? Did Elizabeth remember what God had done for Sarah? God had promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a large family, too numerous to count. But Sarah waited until she was 99 years old to find out that she was expecting for the first time. Clearly, God proved that nothing is impossible for him, which would have been a great encouragement to Elizabeth.
As Elizabeth waited for God to answer her prayers, she likely daydreamed about the baby she hoped God would send. Would it be a girl or a boy? Would her child grow up to be a priest and serve in the temple like his father Zechariah? Even in her wildest dreams, Elizabeth could not have imagined that the child she hoped for would be the prophet who would ready the people for the imminent arrival of the promised Messiah, God’s own son, Jesus Christ! Before he was even born, her baby John would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Even her mother’s heart could not have dreamed that big.
After nearly a lifetime of waiting, Zechariah came home with great news, their prayers for a baby had been answered. Even though he had been temporarily muted because of his disbelief, Zechariah surely found a way to communicate to Elizabeth the happy news! God proved to Elizabeth that he is all he claims to be. God proved that he hears the prayers of his people. He proved that he is faithful to act with our best interest at heart and is able to do far beyond what we ask or can imagine. God proved that he has the power and the will to make and carry out his plans and is sovereign over all things. God proved that he is gracious and wise. Shortly before John was born, Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus and was Elizabeth’s relative, came to visit. Together, they rejoiced because they knew God was worthy of all praise. Elizabeth and Mary knew that God was using them to accomplish his great high purposes and it brought them inexplicable joy!