Have You Lost Your Voice? Amidst Tribulation: Jubilation, Part 4

St. Patrick's day in Cleveland

One day, when priest Zechariah was burning incense, an angel appeared to him. Zechariah acted like any of us. He was confused and filled with fear. He was even more alarmed when the angel declared: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John." (Luke 1:13, NIV2)

Zechariah wasn't prepared for such news. He and his wife were very old, and he couldn't help wondering: "How can I be sure of this" (Luke 1:18b, NIV2). Although the Angel Gabriel was the sign that this would happen, Zechariah was filled with doubt.

What happens when we doubt? We miss the special blessing from the Lord. Gabriel declared: "And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time." (Luke 1:20, NIV2)

As a result of his doubt, Zechariah lost his voice for 9 months. Imagine not being able to speak for so long, and for what? For doubting? Is it really worthwhile?

Nine months later, Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, had her baby. "Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy." (Luke 1:58, NIV2); the one who should have been rejoicing, however, couldn't speak!

In that culture, it was customary to name a child after one of his ancestors. Despite the fact that here was no one by that name in Elizabeth's and Zechariah's families, Elizabeth insisted the child be called John. Puzzled, people wondered aloud: "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." (Luke 1:61b, NIV2)

Now it was all in her husband's hands. As he couldn't speak, he asked for a writing tablet, and everyone was astonished when he wrote: "His name is John." (Luke 1:63b, NIV2) Now that he had seen with his own eyes, he finally believed in the announcement of the angel. His doubt evaporated, and "Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God." (Luke 1:64, NIV2)

We, too, can miss a lot when we doubt. The apostle James wrote once: "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." (Jas 1:6-8, NIV2)

How many among us, myself included, go through doubt? We were not created to doubt; nonetheless, it is only when we fully trust our Father that doubt will become extinct. Our relationship with God has the power to erase all doubt from our minds.

The benefits of faith are far better than the benefits of doubt, which leaves us wanting every time: "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." (Matt 21:21, NIV2) With faith, all things are possible!

Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, doubted as well. No way would he believe in the resurrected Jesus unless he could see the nail marks in His hands, unless he could put his finger where the nails had been, and unless he could put his hand into Jesus' side (See John 20:25). After Thomas realized his Master was really alive, Jesus declared something subliminal: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29b, NIV2) After all, it's all about faith!

In the fifth century A.D., Succat was raised as a Christian. Despite this, he was a doubter. He didn't believe in God because he wanted to do his own thing, the way he wanted to do it. One day, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who attacked Succat's village, and he was sold as a slave to a druid where he was put to work tending sheep. That was a pure tragedy for Succat. Away from home, in a strange country, he realized that there was more to life than doing things his own way. He started to reach out to our Heavenly Father, and eventually he dedicated his life to God. His lot turned into jubilation.

Six years later, Succat had a dream where God insisted that he escape. Being a shepherd, and being most of the time alone, he had no trouble walking away and finding a boat headed for Great Britain. Strangely enough, he never hated his captors. Hatred cannot occur when we are filled with God's love.

Succat then changed his name to Patricius, and amazingly, he returned to broadcast the love of our Heavenly Father to the Irish. Every year we celebrate Succat in North America on March 17: St. Patrick's day.

Just as Christmas is a day to commemorate pure, divine love, St. Patrick's day proclaim the same message. Doubt will leave us wanting. Faith will fill us to the brim.

You may have also lost your voice after reading this. This can be a good thing if it leads to genuine faith. Why doubt when the benefits of faith far outweigh it?

Rob Chaffart

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