Last week, I wrote about how we respond to God's promises. Zechariah responded with doubt and Mary with trust. But I didn't ask myself why Zechariah responded the way he did.
Last Sunday, my pastor made an observation I hadn't considered. Luke 1:6 says Zechariah and Elizabeth were both great people who loved God, but they were old and childless. When Gabriel appears before Zechariah in the temple, he says, "Your prayers have been heard." Clearly, they wanted a child and had asked God. My pastor remarked on the disappointment Zechariah and Elizabeth must have felt up to this point.
For those of you who have read this story, doesn't it confuse you how Zechariah first feels terror when he sees the angel, but then gets a little lippy? I wonder if Zechariah had become so used to disappointment he expected a letdown, no matter how powerful the promise.
Imagine how much it hurt Zechariah as a priest, as someone who always tried to do the right thing, as someone who loved God. Imagine the hurt year after year as he and his wife grew older, watching the possibility of a family shrink and vanish.
Suddenly, Zechariah's response to Gabriel makes more sense. "How shall I know this?" I don't mean to say he should have doubted, but I do know how he felt. What startled me was how he asked this in the middle of an audible and visible message from God. Would my disappointments harden my heart to a point where I would question God's promises even if He told them to me in great supernatural power?