My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Matthew 1 and Luke 1. These chapters cover the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. The lesson was introduced in the following paragraph.
From a mortal perspective, it was impossible. A virgin could not conceive—nor could a barren woman who was well past childbearing years. But God had a plan for the birth of His Son and the birth of John the Baptist, so both Mary and Elisabeth, against all earthly odds, became mothers. It can be helpful to remember their miraculous experiences whenever we face something that seems impossible. Can we overcome our weaknesses? Can we touch the heart of an unresponsive family member? Gabriel could easily have been speaking to us when he reminded Mary, “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). And Mary’s response can also be ours when God reveals His will: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
There are numerous principles taught in the two chapters, but I will discuss this one: “God’s blessings come in His own time” (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80). Most of us have, at one time or another, been forced to wait for something that we dearly wanted. Such was the case with Elisabeth and Zacharias who longed for a baby for many years.
Beginning in Luke 1:5, we learn that Zacharias was a priest, and he and Elisabeth are described as being “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (verse 6). However, they had no child and were “stricken in years” (verse 7). The day came when it was Zacharias’s turn to be the priest who offered incense in the temple of the Lord (verses 7-8).
The people were praying outside when Zacharias entered the temple (verse 10). As he entered, “an angel of the Lord” appeared and stood “on the right side of the altar of incense (verse 11), and he was “troubled” and fearful (verse 12).
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Zacharias could not believe what the angel had said, “for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years” (verse 18). The angel answered, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings” (verse 19). As a sign that he was telling the truth, the angel said that Zacharias would be dumb and unable to speak until the baby was born “because thou believest not my words” (verse 20).
Zacharias exited the temple, and the people “marvelled” that he had been so long in the temple (verse 21). When he could not speak to them, “they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple” (verse 22). Zacharias completed his days in the temple and went home. “Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months” (verse 24).
In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, a newly pregnant Mary came to visit and stayed for three months. The unborn baby in Elisabeth’s womb jumped in recognition of the unborn Christ. Mary stayed with Elisabeth for three months and went home. Soon after she left, Elisabeth gave birth to her baby, and he was called John. Zacharias and Elisabeth were surely happy to have their long-desired baby.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave the following counsel: “While we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted. But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them” (“Waiting on the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, 115-16).
Zacharias and Elisabeth remained faithful through many years of waiting for their prayers to be answered. If you find yourself waiting for a blessing, remember these two faithful people and follow their example.
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