Below is a portion of an Advent devotional I read and prayed this morning. I won’t add much commentary to it except to say that the words “Do not be afraid” are a frequent refrain in Scripture. And that I love how Zechariah and Elizabeth’s personal prayer over the heartbreak and shame of infertility was taken up into God’s larger plan of redemption. Theirs is a beautiful story, made all the more beautiful in being made part of God’s story.
Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.Luke 1:8-13 (NIVUK)
“I notice the angel’s opening words, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.’ And I wonder, what is my prayer? Is there something I am asking for, which I have not yet received? Seeking, but that I have not yet found? Am I knocking at a door which remains unopened? Or have I stopped praying altogether, afraid that I will be disappointed, terrified that no one is listening? And now, as I prepare to take this time of prayer into the coming day, the Lord who loves me says in Psalm 56.”
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.Psalm 56:3-4 (NIVUK)
In God, whose word I praise –
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?