Day 18

Silence and Rejoicing

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Luke 1:18-25, Psalm 113:1-9, Luke 7:18-28

There are many words in Scripture to which I don’t pay enough attention. I read them, I understand them, I obey them. (Occasionally, I even preach them.) But in preparing to write this, I found myself sitting with these seven words: “The Lord has done this for me” (Luke 1:25).

(I don’t know why it took a writing assignment to make me feel the weight of words that are regularly in front of me, but here we are.)

That’s actually one of the beautiful things the Advent season offers us, isn’t it? We come to the Scriptures as is our habit, and we read passages that are familiar to us. What is the result? If we’re being honest, we tend to let what we read slip through our fingers like running water. We read but don’t really read. But every so often, God, in His kindness, reminds us that what we’re reading is really important. Like the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth, for example. This was such good news that John’s father, Zechariah, was left unable to speak after Gabriel appeared to him (the consequence of his unbelief—see Luke 1:18–20). But when Elizabeth became pregnant, her response was to rejoice: “The Lord has done this for me.”

There’s something so beautiful in this narrative. It is echoed in Psalm 113:9, a single line in a psalm of praise, one of awe, describing God’s favor to His people. A childless woman literally given a child, her disgrace (from her point of view) removed by God’s grace. A child who would grow into the man Jesus called the greatest of those born of women (Luke 7:28).

All of this, wrapped up in seven words that I need to pay closer attention to.

This is what rejoicing looks like: recognizing the gift of God’s kindness to us, when we don’t deserve it. When we can’t deserve it. When we can’t make something we desperately want happen on our own. But He can, and He does, according to His purposes. And when we wonder how He can do this, we can always choose to question His ability, though I don’t think that’s the response He wants us to have. Instead, I think He wants us to have the same kind of response Elizabeth, and the psalmist, did: to be able to sit and say, “Who is like the LORD our God—the one enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth” (Psalm 113:5–6), and rejoice in the good news that He does all things for our good and His glory.

Written by Aaron Armstrong

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