“How can I be sure of this?” (Luke 1:18)
Zachariah asks this question of the angel Gabriel after Gabriel tells Zachariah that his prayer had been heard and that his wife, Elizabeth, will bear him a son. Zachariah protests, “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Zachariah’s question is one all too often asked when we get a sense that the Lord wants us to do something that is challenging or hard to believe. The more daunting the word or decision, the more inclined we are to ask the question. Also, with the Lord’s involvement, the more likely the course of action he is asking of us will be out of the ordinary and counter to conventional wisdom.
We are looking for assurance and signs, while God is looking for us to trust him.
While in the early years of our marriage, we had three daughters. Then there was an eleven year gap and we had a son when my wife, Marilynn was 42. We were thrilled and delighted in him. Since our daughters were close in age and enjoyed close relationships growing up together, we wanted our son to have the same experience. Therefore, we were open to having more children so that he too, would have a sibling to grow up with.
In another year Marilynn became pregnant, but the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Marilynn had a sense that the Lord still wanted us to have another child. I didn’t have a strong sense one way or another, but I trusted in Marilynn’s discernment that this was God’s will for us. He blessed us with another daughter, Emily, who was born with Down syndrome and some serious heart issues.
You might think that with this outcome, our discernment may have been faulty. Certainly conventional wisdom in our culture thought so at the time. But the blessings flowing from Emily’s life over the years to our family have far outweighed the burdens. While I have written about Emily a number of times in these posts, let me just say that her inclination to love, her purity of heart and her joy have had a huge impact on every member of our family.
This past weekend my wife and all four daughters, including Emily, traveled to Kansas City where we spent the first 10 years of our marriage for a mother/daughter reunion. Emily who is now 32, entered into a joyous time with her sisters and mother of visiting old home sites where Marilynn grew up, where we spent our first years of marriage, and even Marilynn’s grandparents’ former farm.
In Jesus’ last discourse to the disciples, knowing that he was about to suffer arrest, torture and death, and that his disciples would all be scattered, he said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1) It was God’s will for Jesus to suffer the cross for our salvation. God knew the outcome he had in mind – Jesus’ resurrection and the establishment of his church.
Like with Jesus, God knows the outcome he desires for us. It may involve a piece of the cross, but also an eventual resurrection in our circumstances.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)