I’m currently reading Luke’s Gospel in my morning devotions. Today I was considering the birth of John the Baptist and in particular the story of Zecharias (John the Baptist’s father). He and his wife Elizabeth had endured many years of affection (in their culture childlessness was seen as a shameful thing). Then the Lord spoke into their pain! Yet Zecharias’ heart was hard, in unbelief, towards the Lord. This led him into a season of isolation (you might prefer the word training like in Hebrews 12). Yet when he came out the otherwise, he was a new man! God had hemmed him in so that he might be transformed at a heart level. How do we know this was a heart transformation? Look what we read in Luke 1:64: “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God”. The heart always ‘leaks’ into the mouth, and Zecharias heart had been transformed was filled with gratitude, love and affection for his God. Listen to what the wonderful J.C. Ryle had to say about Zecharias transformation:
“He shews that his nine months’ dumbness had not been inflicted on him in vain. He is no longer faithless, but believing. He now believes every word that Gabriel had spoken to him, and every word of his message shall be obeyed.
Let us take heed that affliction does us good, as it did to Zecharias… “Sanctified afflictions” … are “spiritual promotions.” The sorrow that humbles us, and drives us nearer to God, is a blessing, and a downright gain. No case is more hopeless than that of a man who, in time of affliction turns his back upon God.”