ODJ: Life from the Barren Places

December 1, 2017 

READ: Luke 1:1-17 

[Zechariah and Elizabeth] had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old (v.7).

My wife and I have numerous friends who’ve struggled to have a baby. They’ve endured multiple trips to doctors, different kinds of infertility procedures and the grief of losing children to miscarriages. It’s obvious how painful this has been for them—how much it’s filled them with doubts about themselves and about the God who promises to care for us.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were familiar with similar sorrow. Scripture tells us that even though Zechariah and Elizabeth “were righteous in God’s eyes” and were “careful to obey all the Lord’s commandments and regulations”, they “had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive” (v.7). Sometimes we mistakenly believe our troubles are selfinflicted, the result of some character flaw or disobedience to God. But this good couple had been living as best they could and still . . . no children.

Luke adds an extra detail to make certain we know how desperate the situation was: “They were both very old” (v.7). They were well past the age when parents bear children, past the age when any sensible person would hold on to any hope. And yet, God promised a son. “God has heard your prayer,” the angel said (v.13).

What prayers are you desperate for God to hear? For a shattered relationship? A family on the brink?

Although not every disappointment or sadness receives the full healing and restoration we long for in this lifetime, God does promise that at the end of the story He will trample every kind of death. In fact, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son (John the Baptist) arrived as the herald to God’s weary people (and to us), announcing that life was arriving in Jesus. His new life sprouts from our barren places.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Ephesians 4:1-16

Read Lam. 5:21 and reflect on the word restore. What does it mean? What images come to mind? In what areas of your life do you long for restoration? 
Where do you find barrenness in your life? Write out a prayer to God asking Him to bring life into this barren place.