The following reading comes from Word & Craft’s 2016 Advent Devotional. If you would like to download the full devotional, you can do so here.
Read: Luke 1:24-25
God keeps His promises. It is the story of the Old Testament, woven through many characters, lives, and longings: God keeps His promises. Just as Gabriel announced to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s belly swells with the promised child. I can imagine the wonder she felt as she placed her hands tenderly on her growing abdomen. Though she was old, though her hair had long since grayed, this was an entirely new experience for her. She was pregnant. God had heard her prayers.
Though we are not told exactly why Elizabeth decides to keep her pregnancy hidden for five months, we are given a glimpse into her heart.
“Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (Luke 1:25)
Since children were considered a blessing in Old Testament covenants, childlessness was considered by some to be a curse. We are not told this in the Text explicitly, but we can imagine that other women reproached her, jeered at her, dismissed her due to her infertility. With careless words they wrote off all Elizabeth’s known piety; in spitefulness, they discounted her blamelessness before the Lord and her obedience to His commands. I imagine that as these words played and replayed through Elizabeth’s mind, the narrative of shame grew stronger and stronger. Was this what her life would be about? Would she carry this shame with her for the rest of her days? And with that child tucked securely in her womb, Elizabeth knows: God is about to rewrite the story.
I am quick to forget that when God redeems He redeems thoroughly. My requests for redemption are often not much more than empty shells compared to what the mighty arm of our Redeemer can do. Elizabeth experienced the total redemption of God first-hand. Her prayers had been heard, even after her husband failed to believe. Her desire for a child was met, even after her body aged beyond child-bearing expectations. God redeemed her longing for a child, and He didn’t stop there. God was about to undo all the years of shame, guilt and fear that she carried around in her barren womb. God was in the business of removing her reproach, teaching her – and us – that nothing is beyond the redemptive power of our God. With Him, even a barren womb is fertile ground for God to grow our faith in His redemption. When our God redeems, He redeems entirely.
Spend some time thanking God that He is a capable and thorough Redeemer. Confess to Him any areas of your life that you have believed were beyond His redemption, and ask Him to restore your belief that He can redeem every aspect of your situation.