[Zechariah’s] mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:64
A post-surgical stroke had robbed Tom of his ability to speak, and he faced a long rehab journey. Weeks later, we were pleasantly surprised when he showed up at our church’s Thanksgiving service. We were even more surprised when he stood up to speak. Searching for what to say, he jumbled his words, repeated himself, and confused days and time. But one thing was clear: he was praising God! It’s possible to have your heart break and be blessed at the same moment. This was that kind of moment.
In the “pre-Christmas story” we meet a man who lost the gift of speech. Gabriel the angel appeared to Zechariah the priest and told him he would be the father of a great prophet (see Luke 1:11–17). Zechariah and his wife were elderly, so he doubted it. That’s when Gabriel told him he would not speak “until the day this happens” (v. 20).
The day did happen. And at the ceremony to name the miracle baby, Zechariah spoke. With his first words he praised God (v. 64). Then he said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them” (v. 68).
Like Zechariah, as soon as he was able, Tom’s response was to praise God. Their hearts were inclined toward the One who made their tongues and their minds. Regardless of what faces us this season, we can respond the same way.
How do you respond when a crisis comes? What’s your reaction when you come through it?
Thank You, Father, for the gift of speech. In my times of doubt, be with me to strengthen my faith. Help me learn how to use language to draw near to and honor You.
The Bible contains a rich heritage of unlikely pregnancies. Abraham and Sarah were elderly and Sarah was infertile, but she gave birth to Isaac in fulfillment of God’s promise (Genesis 17:15–19). Isaac’s wife Rebekah was childless until God responded to Isaac’s prayer, resulting in the birth of Esau and Jacob (25:21–26). Jacob’s wife Rachel was unable to conceive (29:31) until God intervened and she gave birth to Joseph (30:22–24). Manoah’s wife was infertile but gave birth to Samson according to God’s promise (Judges 13). Hannah pleaded with God for a child and gave birth to Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1–20).
In Luke 1, an angel announced that Elizabeth, who was elderly and unable to conceive (vv. 5–7), would bear a son named John (vv. 11–17, 57–60). These miraculous births produced significant people for the plan of God. John prepared the way for the most significant of all—Jesus, born of a virgin.