Any parent can tell you of the joy experienced when your first child was born. For us the pregnancy had been a surprise, but despite that, the 9 months waiting still felt like a lifetime! From the moment I found out I was pregnant, so much of my world became shaped around the coming birth. The moment I held Tahlia in my arms had been anticipated for so long that I found myself overcome with emotion.
I can’t imagine how much more that would have been the case for Elizabeth who had waited years and years to have a child. I imagine for so long she would have cried out to God, prayed to God, perhaps even bargained with God to fall pregnant, yet those prayers had been unanswered. Sometimes when God is at work in a situation it is hard to see, and perhaps even looks like he is not at work
Yet, finally, in her old age, Elizabeth gives birth to a son. In obedience, and perhaps in thankfulness, they call the child John. Zechariah is immediately able to speak and responds with praise to God. Not only was this event significant for Elizabeth and Zechariah, but it impacts their whole community. We are told that their neighbours and relatives “shared her joy” (v58) and they were “filled with awe” (v65). The events surrounding John’s birth made it clear that “the Lord’s hand was with him” (v66). God was at work through the birth of John the Baptist, and it was not only evident to Elizabeth and Zechariah but to their whole community.