Suffering

All suffering is a result of sin (a fallen world), but not all suffering is a DIRECT result of sin.  We cannot always change the pressures (or temptations) we face.  But we can guard our hearts — how we respond to those pressures.  God is at work in us, orchestrating the pressures we face, in order to develop our hearts and lead us to worship Him alone.  In other words, suffering can have a number of causes.  Sometimes it is disciplinary, but often it is just the context by which God tests and trains our hearts.  Zechariah and Elizabeth faced a lifetime of suffering in their inability to have a child.  But God had a wonderful plan for them — one beyond their wildest dreams.  So often we want our prayers answered, “NOW!”, but had the prayers of these saints been answered any sooner, Zechariah could not have sired the forerunner of the messiah.  Christ would come in the fullness of time.  So waiting through the difficulty was best and most glorious for them.  We do not have God’s perspective on our suffering, situations and influences.  He alone knows what’s best.  And he promises us that that’s exactly what he’s giving us … the best (Romans 8:28f).

Dumbstruck

Who would be worthy to introduce the Lord?  God had to prepare a special man for the task.  He would be the greatest man in history.  As we’ll see this week, that excludes Christ, since he’s incomparable.

Zechariah was given good news.  The messiah is coming.  Deliverance is at hand.  It was the greatest news the world had ever known.  His unbelief deprived him of the privilege of sharing the news.  How frustrating that must have been.

We have far greater news.  We now know the full extent of the deliverance God was bringing.  Christ came for far more than political comfort.  He came to give us life and truth and righteousness.  We are forgiven.  We are clothed with righteousness.  We have no cause for fear.  We have GREAT NEWS!  The news we have dwarfs that which Zechariah received.  We have a faith worth sharing!  And we’ve not been struck dumb.  If we aren’t eager to share it, then we either don’t believe it or don’t understand it.