"While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Don't be afraid Zechariah! God has heard your prayer." - Luke 1:6-13
Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were no gap between our prayer petitions and the granting of our prayer petitions? We hold within our hearts so many prayerful pleas that have not yet been granted and so many prayerful hopes that have not yet been realized.
We believe that God is faithful. And we trust that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. But the question still remains: What are we to do in the meantime between praying and receiving what we pray for?
Many of us have become despondent in the meantime. We've substituted prayer for expediency, and basically conditioned ourselves to live without hope. Living in a reality without imagination is hell, but we make the adjustment ... for we often assume that God's delays are God's denials.
Even the priest Zechariah had pretty much resigned himself to life without the fulfillment of his prayer petition of having a child. Too many years had passed ... his wife Elizabeth remained barren ... and they had both gotten too old to have children.
But though Zechariah may have given up on his prayer, he never gave up his faith in God. In all the meantime of unanswered prayer and unfulfilled hope, Zechariah and Elizabeth remained steadfast in their obedience to God.
And then it happened. The angel appeared while Zechariah, though disappointed, still performed his duties in the sanctuary.
If we persevere in faithfulness, despite the disappointments we carry, we too may hear the voice of God telling us that our prayers have not been forgotten, and our faith is not in vain.
God, despite disappointments and delays, renew our faith this Advent season.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.