Much has been written about the girl Mary, her simple trust in God when told she would bear the Messiah. It's a powerful encouragement to wait for the word of the Lord to be fulfilled in our own lives.
But we sometimes forget there was more than one miracle birth that year:
"But the angel said to him, 'Do not fear, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John'" (Luke 1:13).
Elizabeth and her husband were past the age of child-bearing (v. 18). Both Jesus and John were miracle conceptions; both were promises only able to be fulfilled by the power of God.
But they were also different.
When Mary asked how this could happen, she was told the Holy Spirit would overshadow her. Elizabeth didn't get that reassurance.
While Mary was basically told to wait on the Lord, Elizabeth had to take some action.
Not to be crass, but the simple nature of things tells us that Elizabeth and Zechariah were not going to get pregnant without being intimate. It was likely awkward and even uncomfortable. They couldn't even communicate with one another what they were thinking!
As much as we want a "Mary" promise, more often we are given an "Elizabeth" one. The promise is just as real, but the realization of it is contingent upon taking the action God is requiring at the time.
It may feel awkward and uncomfortable; it may even seem physically impossible. But just as Elizabeth had to give God something to quicken, so we must force ourselves past our unbelief to act in faith.
Believing God and acting accordingly may have been the hardest thing Elizabeth had ever done. Yet can you imagine her ever regretting that seemingly ridiculous first step of faith?
The birth of Elizabeth and Zechariah's baby was more than a personal blessing. John's birth brought joy and hope to an entire nation, and his life was the fulfillment of generations of prophecy.
Have you been given an impossible promise? Be encouraged this Christmas! Instead of wondering how it could ever happen, look for a step of faith to take toward it, no matter how incredible it seems.
Karen Ramsey is a blogger and special education teacher.
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