Sunday, November 21, 2010


    Do you every feel like God does not hear your prayers? Are there times in your life when you ask, “Where are you, Heavenly Father?” “Are you really listening? Elizabeth the wife of the priest Zacharias was a woman whose prayers were unanswered for many years. However, she was a woman of great spiritual maturity whose decades of deep disappointment strengthened her instead of destroying her faith. She taught us to trust in God and to wait. As we can be sure that God’s answer will come and in a way that we never imagined!
    Like her husband Zacharias, Elizabeth came from a line of priestly families, the same priestly line that the Messiah would come from. Luke took great care to describe that she and her husband were “both righteous before God, walking in all commandments of the Lord, blameless”. This description teaches us the first thing we need to know about having our prayers answered. Elizabeth and Zacharias were not said to be sinless or perfect but that they kept the commandments and had true hearts dedicated to the Lord. 

    Elizabeth “had no child, was barren, stricken in years” and must have yearned deeply for a baby of her own. I imagine her fasting and praying with great supplication. Sometimes even begging for peace and inspiration to follow God’s will. Despite her disappointment, she relied on God’s love and continued to celebrate his blessings.

   On one such occasion, her husband was chosen to participate in the temple ordinances. What pride she must have felt as this important responsibility came upon him. While Zacharias was in the temple he was visited by the angel Gabriel who told him that Elizabeth would soon bear a son “who would be great in the site of the Lord”. In fact, Elizabeth was selected by God to give birth to John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah. John would also become a powerful missionary and Jesus would call him the greatest of all the prophets.

    Zacharias was overcome with this news and found it too hard to believe, even coming from a heavenly messenger. Because of his lack of faith, he lost his ability to speak. Elizabeth however, believed in miracles and soon became pregnant, praising God for taking away her “reproach” or barrenness. 
     In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy she was visited by her cousin Mary. Elizabeth was given divine revelation to know that Mary was also with child. When the two women met, Elizabeth’s unborn baby responded by suddenly moving and kicking in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the spirit and in a moment of penetrating clarity pronounced a blessing upon Mary.
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that thee would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 

    First of all, I love that Mary would come to her. Mary a pregnant teenager, with more hopes and fears in her heart than we can imagine. Her older cousin must have been kind, understanding and capable of good advice.  At just the sight of her, Elizabeth’s blessing gave Mary the confirmation, courage and peace that she was searching for.  Elizabeth realized that Mary had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah and she rejoiced in it. What comfort her words must have given to Mary. Over the next three months, Elizabeth would continue to encourage and help Mary prepare for her Mission. The birth and miracle of Elizabeth’s son would also teach Mary that “With God, nothing shall be impossible.”
    At a time when Elizabeth was settling down to a quiet old age, her life took an unexpected turn. She became pregnant and bore the son she had always hoped for. And God had answered her prayer at the most opportune time. Not only would her son assist with the coming of the Messiah but she would assist Christ’s mother for his coming too.
    Elizabeth story teaches us that answers will come from God. They will come in a way and in a time that will be most enjoyed and for our benefit. I learn from her that, prayers are worth waiting for.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Have you heard the one about Jesus and the Mother-in-law?

Mother-in-laws often get a bad rap. There are so many bad jokes and stories about them. It’s almost like their doomed - -constantly accused of being meddlesome, manipulative, and opinionated.  I love my mother-in-law. She is kind, loving and supportive. Plus, she makes the best brownies ever! Mother-in-laws can be a tremendous example and blessing to their extended families. The account of Peter’s mother-in-law is about one such faithful woman and a story worth telling.
After worshipping God in the synagogue one day, Jesus, Peter, Andrew, James, and John went to Peter's home to relax and eat. When they arrived, Peter's wife's mother was bedridden with a fever. Dr. Luke, using medical terms, tells us that she had a “high” fever. (Luke 4:38) This implies that the fever was very serious and perhaps even life-threatening. When the Savior heard about her condition,” he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. (Mark 1:31)  

Jesus healed many people but with this particular healing, something unique happened. Quite often, after being healed, people left Jesus to go about their renewed lives. Peter's mother-in-law, however, immediately rose and began to minister to them. The Greek word for ‘minister’ can also mean to ‘serve’. Peter’s mother-in-law teaches us that if we are truly grateful to the Lord then we will not just thank him but we will serve him. 

And her service did not stop there. Peter’s home immediately became available to Jesus and his disciples whenever they stayed in Capernaum. Mark tells us the “whole city” gathered at Peter’s door (Mark 1:33). Late into the night miracle after miracle took place. It is likely that Peter’s mother-in-law was a widow and lived in his home. I imagine that she must have done a lot of cooking and cleaning during those times. Quietly serving the Master, while she herself feasted on His words
I think about all of the times that Peter was away from his family serving the Lord. Did they suffer from the loss of Peter’s financial income? Were they afraid of persecution because they were intimate with Jesus and his disciples? Were they worried that Peter himself would never come home? This wonderful lady must have been a tremendous support to Peter’s family. Her faith, testimony and witness of Christ’s mission surely must have given them great courage. 

I am grateful God chose to give us two Mother’s. The one that gives us life and the one that helps us understand life from a new perspective. We may not always agree with our mother-in-law but I believe that most act out of love. Like Peter’s mother-in-law, they can teach us and bless us. Sometimes it’s hard for adult children to open their hearts and lives to suggestions and help from their parents. But this story teaches us that a mother-in-law’s life experience, discernment and undying love for her family can be invaluable. So here’s to Mother-in-laws everywhere and to my own whom I am truly thankful for

Church over the house where Peter's mother-in-law was said to live -Capernaum Israel