18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child. What sign can you give me to prove this will happen?”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel. I stand beside God himself. He has sent me to announce to you this good news. 20 But now, since you did not believe my words, you will be stricken silent and unable to speak until the day my words have been fulfilled at their appointed time and a child is born to you. That will be your sign!” Luke 1:18-20 (TPT)
How we respond to God’s word has a big impact on how the word of God works through us.
Zechariah was a priest that had served faithfully and was righteous and blameless before God (see Luke 1:6). But he and his wife, Elizabeth, were without children. They prayed for a long time for a child but no child came. And now they were very old.
When Zechariah’s time came to burn the incense in the Holy of Holies, an angel appeared. Understandably, Zechariah was startled. He was supposed to be by himself in there.
But the angel calmed him with some good news, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” The angel goes on to describe what a great blessing this is and what great plans God has for this boy.
Zechariah’s response to this miraculous event and good news is not celebration but doubt. The first words out of his mouth are “How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child.”
Despite years of praying for a child, being in the presence of an angel, hearing the promise sent directly from God, Zechariah’s answer reflected doubt. He knew the story of how God blessed Abraham and Sarah in their old age with a child. Surely, he knew that God could make old people have babies. Despite being righteous in the sight of God, there were still areas of his heart where he lacked faith, where he allowed doubts to reside.
Because of his unbelief, the angel Gabriel makes Zechariah unable to speak until the child is born. Zechariah’s unbelief has consequences. It does not stop God’s plan from moving forward but does create unnecessary trouble for Zechariah.
One of the challenges of the life of faith is to let our waiting on God build faith rather than doubt. We might be disappointed when God does not answer our prayer request within our expected time frame. But if we let God’s light work in us while we wait, we can be ready to respond in faith when God’s time comes about.
Prayer: Lord, help me to wait before you in a way that builds my faith in your goodness and faithfulness. Let the light of your love drive out any shadows of doubt. Thank you.