Read Luke 1:24-25. TEXT: After these days his (Zechariah's) wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden (Luke 1:24).
When Zechariah concluded his work at the temple, he returned home, and Elizabeth conceived their long-awaited child. Zechariah looked on in silence, watching God's Word through the angel begin to be fulfilled.
What an amazing time for Elizabeth. For decades she has carried the social stigma of being a woman unable to bear a child. Along with her husband, she has had a sterling reputation (see Luke 1:6), but her lack of a child tarnished that image and brought great disappointment and disapproval upon her.
People knew that God's original design for marriage included children, and yet that had not occurred in Zechariah and Elizabeth's marriage. They falsely concluded that God was displeased with them. Surely they must have done something for which God was punishing them. And of course, for Zechariah and Elizabeth to know they hadn't committed any great sin that deserved punishment made the weight of God's withheld blessing all the heavier.
Even the phrase "she was barren" carries with it a devastating weight. Imagine having your womb compared to a barren desert.
But finally, in His time, God removed this disgrace. Unlike many of us who forget all about God when our prayers are finally answered and that elusive request is granted, Elizabeth keeps her eyes focused squarely on her God. "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."
If you struggle from a tarnished reputation-especially one you don't deserve-then take heart this Christmas. God knows the truth, and in His way and in His time He will vindicate you and remove your reproach among people.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me the times I have caused pain by jumping to false conclusions and judgments about others-or even myself. Heal the hurt and restore those relationships for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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