Have you ever asked God to prove something to you in exchange for your trust? Difficult circumstances may tempt us to question God’s faithfulness. We may find our prayers taking a turn from “help me” to “do this, or else.” A friend once shared with me that if God didn’t do a specific thing, and the way she wanted it done, that she wasn’t sure she would still believe. She wanted concrete proof that the God was real and responsive.*
Our “prove it” moments don’t always come in times of despair, though. My own moment came when life seemed to be going great! I returned to church after a three-year break and immersed myself in learning about God. During one particular Bible study, I kept hearing the women talk about their testimony. I had a little conversation with God on the way home, asking Him to reveal to me my own “testimony” because I had always believed in Him. I see (thanks to hindsight) that the root of my “prove it, Lord” moment was pride. I essentially told God, “I’ve always believed in you, unlike these other women who came to know you later in life. So how can I share my testimony when I’ve always known about you?” I only prayed this once, but God answered in a way I would’ve never imagined.
Luke’s Gospel introduces us to Zechariah and Elizabeth. They are a righteous older couple with no children. Elizabeth is well past the childbearing age. Zechariah is a priest chosen by lot to enter the Temple on behalf of the people. This is a BIG DEAL. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! While Zechariah is in the temple, an angel of the Lord visits him. The angel Gabriel tells him not to fear, “for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:13) The angel goes on to tell Zechariah the role John will play in the coming years.
Can you imagine? An angel of the Lord giving you great news: your biggest desire is about to be fulfilled!
Zechariah responds, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18) It’s important to note here that Zechariah should know well the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how the Lord blessed them with a child when Sarah was way beyond childbearing years. Gabriel even tells Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth**, will bear this child. Does it seem crazy? Absolutely! But God’s already proven He can make the barren full. His response is full of doubt. Maybe he doubts his worthiness of such a miracle. Maybe he doubts the Lord will do this for him. So he asks God to prove it.
And prove it the Lord does.
Gabriel responds, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:19-20)
Biblical mic drop. Zechariah wanted proof, so the Lord rendered him mute.
I wanted proof, and the Lord brought me to my knees in full surrender to Him when I faced an unbearable situation a mere six months after my conversation with Him.
Zechariah’s doubt brought on his “sign” from the Lord. My pride brought me to the end of myself, to a point when I can now look back and say, “That is when I fully surrendered my life to God.”
Doubt can lead us to a deeper relationship with the Lord, if we allow it. It’s okay to ask the questions, to seek revelations from the Lord. We won’t understand everything. Zechariah’s doubt led him to glorify God and be filled with the Holy Spirit after nine months of silence. My doubt drew me closer to God than I ever imagined possible, and five years later I still desire more of Him.
Let us always remember God always does what He says He will.
*I’m happy to report my friend didn’t walk away from her faith despite God not answering her prayer in the way she wanted.
**Abraham is told he’d have a son. After years pass with no baby, Sarah interprets the promise as Abraham having a son with another woman. She gives her servant Hagar to Abraham, and Hagar conceives. Later, Abraham is told that this child is not the heir and he will have a son with Sarah. Gabriel using Elizabeth by name reminds me of Sarah and Hagar; perhaps he wanted to be very clear so as not to encounter another situation like this! But that’s just my thought.