Summary: In a wonderful story of the Christmas season, we learn how God is present in and through out deepest disappointments.

Liz, Zach, and a baby named John

December 7, 2002

Let us, today, look at a story that speaks to all of us. It’s a story of great promise in this season of anticipating Christ. It’s a story of encouragement and hope for us all.

Luke 1. 5- 7- we have a childless couple.

I want you to notice some things about this couple. First of all, these were good people- they were even great people. They were likely model citizens. They were religious. Not only that, they were righteous, and this kind of people makes tremendous neighbours. They are the kind of people you and I would like to have living next door. They’d be people we could trust- the kind of people we’d ask to watch our house while we were away, or who we would trust to watch our children if we were going to be late getting home from work or an appointment. These people- Liz and Zach- loved God. I think it’s safe to draw the conclusion, too, that God loved them, too. They were from great lines, too. She was descended from Aaron, the first priest of Israel. He was from Abijah- one of the leading priests that David and Solomon made to be leaders of priestly service.

But they had one big disappointment in life. They wanted a child- a boy, a girl- didn’t matter to them, it seems. We don’t know how old they were, but it seems her biological clock had tick-tocked past child bearing, at least, because it says that she couldn’t conceive, and it says they were old. We’re not sure whether that means they were in their 50s, 60s, or even 70s. But they were well past normal child bearing years.

This was cause for great disappointment in that time. It meant a number of things for Liz and Zach:

- they had no one to care for them in their old age

- they would have no grandchildren to gather round them as they aged

- they would have no one to inherit their ‘stuff’

- they would have no one to carry on their line and name

You can be sure that when they married, they anticipated and planned for all these things, because children were an important part of a marriage and family in that society. They had an idea about how many children they would have- maybe they had discussed and argued over this somewhat- most young couples do that. It’s only an aberration of this age that people want to marry (or not) and not share life with others. But even now, it’s tough for a couple who wants to have children and can’t. I think of a couple in a church we lived in for a long time; they were in their late 20s and early 30s while we were there, and there was a lot of pressure in a church that had a lot of children and that, because of background, thought you weren’t complete until you had several. Even I was told that I wasn’t a ‘real’ father yet because I had only girls. So you can imagine the difficulty and trial for them, having no children. I’ve seen this several times and it can be a source of genuine sorrow.

There’s a clear sense of their disappointment in this turn of events in their lives. They had plans, hope, and dreams that weren’t being fulfilled. This hadn’t worked out as they hoped in this big area of life. It was not a small thing- it was a big deal. But, through this disappointment, they continued to serve God. They served God well and sought closeness to God, yet He permitted them this disappointment.

So, what are your disappointments in life? What hasn’t gone as you hoped, planned, dreamed, expected?

- education

- job/career/employment

- marriage

- family- none/too many/death/poor health/grandchildren for you to care for now

- income/economy

- health

- housing- consider those at Old Brewery Mission- not what they planned

- retirement- maybe you planned on 45 and it looks more like 70 is realistic

- church

- ?????

This is a story for us- for you and for me. Scripture is relevant to people, today, tomorrow, next week, next year.

Let’s continue with Liz and Zach’s story:

Lk. 1. 8- 24- he went off to work and he met God. He didn’t stop his life because he was disappointed in one area of it, but he continued. He didn’t mope and whine about how life had treated him, or his bad luck, or anything like that. But He went about life, looking to God, and he met God. And as he did this, he learned some important things.

- God had heard all along and God even remembered when they had stopped praying. Gabriel declared, ‘Your prayer has been heard’. You have to know that, in their case, they’d come to a point of not praying about this anymore. After all, they were too old for this to happen. But in their case, what they hoped for would come. They were going to be very happy. In one translation, The Message, it says, “you will leap like a gazelle for joy”. Others would be happy, too.

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