My God Is a Vow
Life for her had not been easy. Daily her heart ached with longing to have a child. But the Lord had not blessed her and her husband with a little one. It would have been bad enough to experience such pain in a private way, but in her day and age her barren womb was painfully a very public matter. How the women of the village talked about her behind her back, whisperings that often ended in giggles as she passed by. Childbirth was to a woman’s honor. And if she had no children, then surely there was something dishonorable in her past. Or so they thought.
Her husband was a priest in the temple of the Lord. He was a good and righteous man who had a heart that had also longed for a child. Eventually you reach a sort of place where you live life, and put the sadness on the shelf. And so he faithfully went about his life, observing the laws and regulations of the Lord. But still his heart ached. And together, they were living out the remainder of their lives to the glory of God, waiting on him, and trusting his promises, child or not.
The sadness and heartache of Elizabeth and Zechariah is the kind of thing that many can identify with, not only for those who have a longing for children. Heartache and sadness can take so many forms: Regret over a failed relationship. Separation from a loved one living in another part of the world or a loved one living in eternal glory. Guilt over past and secret sins. Health challenges, work issues, financial struggles, or just an inexplicable darkness that seems to creep about the corners of the heart and mind, sadness and heartache. The weight can be nearly unbearable. And in the midst of it all, the promises of the Lord seem so far away. It’s easy to begin to question, even challenge, that the Lord knows what he’s doing, that he knows what you’re going through.
Oh, you ask questions, but there often seems to be so few answers! A well-meaning friend or family member may have said something like, “God allows these things to happen to people that he loves.” To which you and many others have responded, “Yeah, I wish he didn’t love me so much!”
Elizabeth would utter a similar phrase. She would say to her relative Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Why am I so favored?” Only for her, it was not dripping with sarcasm. It was in awe at what the Lord had accomplished. You see, even late in life (and I mean late in life), the Lord blessed Elizabeth and Zechariah with a child. But more than that, the Lord blessed them with even more than they could have asked or imagined. The Lord blessed them with a child who would prepare the way for the Savior.
Yes, know this about your Lord: He does love you and he does keep his promises. So when he promises to fill your hearts with joy, when he promises that there is room for all to find refuge beneath the shadow of his wings, when he promises believers that we shall be with him in paradise, when he promises that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, when he promises that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, when he promises that tomorrow will worry about itself, and when he promises to turn your darkness into light, no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.
After all, he promised to send his Son to be our Savior, and he made good on that promise. He promised that death would not have an everlasting hold on us, and he rose from the dead to make good on that promise. And he promises to ease aching and saddened hearts with the joy of his promises kept. All things do work for the good of those who love him. That is his promise. That is his vow. That is what the name Elizabeth means: “My God is a vow.”
May the joy of his promises kept fill you this Christmas season and throughout the new year.
Pastor Martin Spaude
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