what do you do when God's promises don't match your experience?How Long Lasts the Shame?

what do you do when God's promises don't match your experience?How Long Lasts the Shame?

what do you do when God's promises don't match your experience?How Long Lasts the Shame?

A Dream Fulfilled

Scripture also gives numerous examples of those who enjoyed the fulfillment of a dream well beyond the point when most would have lost hope. My favorite is that of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Lk 1:5-25).

They were the parents of John the Baptist. The general story of their conceiving John in old age is well-known, and a staple of the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temple and announces to him, “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John” (v 13). Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth are both “well along in years” (v 7), Elizabeth soon becomes pregnant, and when her term is finished, gives birth to John.

While the fact that this miraculous birth took place is inspiring enough, there is more to this story than meets the eye. Zechariah was a priest, whose division of Abijah was on duty at the time of his encounter with the angel. Like other priestly divisions, Abijah served the temple only two weeks each year. Many of the priests lived away from Jerusalem, had secular jobs, and traveled to the holy city only by choice when their division was on duty.

Each day one priest was chosen by lottery to enter the holy of holies and offer sacrifice. What’s most significant is that a priest was allowed this honor only once in his lifetime, and many never realized it at all. When Zechariah was chosen for temple service that morning, it was the prize of a lifetime. Here on this one day, late in life, he not only experienced the angel’s promise of a child, but enjoyed the fulfillment of a major vocational dream as well.

Zechariah’s experience reminds us of how remarkably our life can change in the space of a single day. Harvest experiences do occur for each of us from time to time, and sometimes--as in Zechariah’s case--we are completely surprised by them. We do best to begin each day with high expectations for it. While we shouldn’t base our well-being on whether serendipities occur that day, a certain hope for them is healthy, for it makes us more alert to the special openings God may present us.

Hope for the Future

Zechariah’s experience, of course, not only inspires hope for the day, but hope for the future. His being chosen for temple service brings out how long-term persistence toward a goal--and availability--often do pay off. Zechariah undoubtedly had been making the sojourn to Jerusalem for decades before this cherished opportunity finally opened up.

Then there is the revelation from the angel. Most interesting is that Gabriel says that God’s promise of a child is in response to Zechariah’s prayer: “your prayer has been heard.” Most likely Gabriel is referring to prayers Zechariah and Elizabeth had made for a child long before this, when she was in her childbearing years. This is one of Scripture’s most graphic examples of how past prayers are not forgotten by God. Time and energy we expend in praying do bring results--sometimes quickly, sometimes over time.

Zechariah’s experience shows that prayer can make a radical difference in our destiny. Unless we have clear reason to know that God has shut a particular door, we have reason to stay hopeful that, when we have prayed earnestly, God will bring about a certain dream. And if the dream doesn't work out, we can still be confident that the prayers we have made will bring benefit to our life in many other ways.

Keeping Our Own Hope Strong

Have you lost heart over a personal dream that hasn't been fulfilled? Yet to the best of your knowledge, does it fit your gifts and interests well? Is it a good match for your life as God has designed it? It may seem that pessimism about the future is your best defense against further disappointment. But keep in mind the benefits of hope. Be careful not to write your personal history with a gloomy conclusion before it happens. Stay open to opportunities to move toward your dream that God may make possible for you.

Ask him to give you the divine ability to live in two worlds at once--to stay hopeful about your future, yet happy right now even with certain desires unfulfilled. Through his grace, you can achieve this balance in your outlook, and it’s a vital part of the attitude of faith.

Most of all, remember that whatever happens, Christ desires the best for you and is working out an ideal plan for your life. That alone is an incomparable reason for hope. Take confidence from knowing it. And may it give you the courage to take steps of faith.

what do you do when God's promises don't match your experience?How Long Lasts the Shame? what do you do when God's promises don't match your experience?How Long Lasts the Shame? Reviewed by Kannuri JOEL on 04:49:00 Rating: 5

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