When you struggle with doubt...
Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. He was a Priest and served God blamelessly, and unfortunately Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth did not have any children. They had prayed and prayed a long time for God to bless them with a child.
To put into perspective the position of Zechariah, he was the Billy Graham, Beth Moore, or ______ (insert name) of their time. He was a man who followed God as closely as a person on earth could.
One day Zechariah was performing his duties as Priest by offering incense in the temple while people were praying on the outside. An angel of the Lord visited Zechariah and said,
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth
will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy
and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be
great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented
drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the
people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on
before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the
fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to
make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:13-17 NIV
What was his reaction?
Was it one of great joy because his prayers were heard and answered?
No, it was one of doubt. Zechariah responded by saying, “How can I be sure of this?” (vs18) This may seem like a logical reaction, but Zechariah was in the hollies of hollies, in the presence of God and he questions the words given to him. The angel responded by saying:
"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. And now you will be silent and not able
to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which
will come true at their proper time." (Luke 1:19-20)
My version is Gabriel thinking of all the nerve! And then he politely says, " Zechariah, don't you know who I am? I am Gabriel, one sent by God himself, but yet you doubt! For because of your doubt...be silent!" (these humans can be so impossible!) Ok all joking aside.
With Zechariah’s background he knew about angels, he knew in the Old Testament they came and brought good news. God called Zechariah to have faith and trust. Many times we have the knowledge of God’s word but we need to make the journey through faith to trust. Trust says logically you have the knowledge, but faith is putting that trust in action. One is in your head the other in your heart.
For example, we share a confidence with a friend, we have the head knowledge that this is a close friend, but once you share your confidence you need to have faith to trust that the confidence will not be shared.
I love the story of Zechariah this story gives me hope. If Zechariah can doubt or question then I to have hope that God won’t give up on me. God silenced Zechariah because of his doubt, but through that God was restoring him back to the faith he once had. Circumstances can be God leading us to trust him, but we can only trust through faith. With Zechariah it was in the stillness and silence that God was cultivating and growing his faith.
To put this in contrast, soon after this happened there was a little girl who an angel came to visit and told her she would bear a child, and he will be the long awaited coming Messiah. Mary had great faith so she did not question the angel.
I am not implying Zechariah did not have great faith, but he did doubt and God restored him. This story is showing that Godly people can struggle with doubt, but God will work to restore those who doubt back to faith. Praise God he does not give up on the ones who love Him.
You can visit me at my personal blog: Laurel Wreath