Monday, February 14, 2011

What's in a Name? (Part 2)

So last blog I covered the meaning of my first name, Sarah, and this week I did a little digging into my middle name, Elizabeth.

Now I've always known Elizabeth was from the bible and I looked up her name and it means "God's Promise." She was yet another famous character for not being able to get pregnant, but I haven't read her story in a long time. It starts in Luke chapter 1 with the direct statement that Elizabeth is not able to have children with her husband, Zacharias, and now she's really old. One day when Zacharias was performing his duties in the church (he was a priest) an angel appeared to him and told him that he and Elizabeth would get pregnant and have a baby boy who be named John and would be pure and filled with the Holy Spirit and turn many people back to God. Zacharias was scared out of his mind and he basically told the angel that he was crazy and didn't believe him. In reply, the angel told Zacharias, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
 "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

Within a few days Elizabeth became pregnant and sure enough, Zacharias completely lost his voice. Nine months later Elizabeth went into labor and the scriptures say that her friends and neighbors "rejoiced with her, knowing that the Lord had shown her grace." What a great picture of community! I'm sure all of Elizabeth's girlfriends had cried with her through her bareness and celebrated with her when she finally became pregnant, so what a beautiful moment for them all to see God's promise come true.
As was customary of the time, they asked Elizabeth if she wanted to name the baby boy after his father, but she declined in favor of the name that the angel had given him, John, but since no one in her family was named John, they sought out Zacharias to see what he wanted to name the child. Since he couldn't talk, he asked for a tablet, and wrote down, "His name is John," and immediately he was able to speak again after 9 months of muteness. The baby was circumcised on the eight day and named John, meaning "God is gracious." Wow.

I can only imagine how desperately Elizabeth wanted a baby. After years of watching her friends get pregnant and have children it must have started to seem impossible for them to have a child of their own. Just like the story of Sarah, it sticks out so distinctly to me because of how God intentionally chose extremely human people through which he worked his miracles. This reminds me of when Paul is struggling with doubt and distress in his letter to the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 12:9) and speaking of the Lord he write, "Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." 

So no matter what I am struggling through, I know I follow in the footsteps of not one, but two women who God gave specific situations in which they couldn't fix things on their own and they had to grow their trust in Him to do the impossible. How often do we actually get faced with a problem that we can't solve by our own abilities or from our own wallets? For this, I am so thankful. 
Just like Paul, I am learning to embrace my weakness knowing that the less capable I am the more room God has to do things I could only dream of being able to accomplish on my own.

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