judges 13:2-7,24,25; My mouth shall be filled with your praise, an dI will sing your glory; Luke 1:5-25
Many times in life when things don't go our way or if we experience pain or setback or sickness our initial reaction is that God must be punishing us. We think we must have done something wrong to be experiencing negative realities.
I just visited a parishioner who is in the hospital who had taken a nasty fall and her conclusion was that she was being punished.
We equate negative experiences with punishments.
But what if they are not punishments? What if negative realities are negative from our perspective but not negative from God's perspective? What if they aren't negative at all? What if they are a gift rather than a punishment?
God is always trying to get our attention. What he is concerned with most is not whether were are prosperous or have good health or great jobs but whether we are on the narrow path heading toward our ultimate goal that is to be with him? God wants to save us. He wants to save us from our sins, from ourselves, from all things that hold us back, keep us down, prevent us from fully engaging in the life that will lead to our ultimate happiness.
We look at today's gospel. Zechariah has a word or two with the angel that is sent to him to announce that his wife Elizabeth shall conceive and give birth and he questions, really doubts the gift God is bestowing to his family, to the world. As a result, he is told he shall not speak for the duration of the pregnancy.
Imagining being quiet, speechless for 9 months.
Perhaps Zechariah needed this time to ponder what God was doing. Perhaps he needed this time to enter into a grateful response for the gift received. Perhaps these 9 months taught him how to listen more carefully and attentively, not only to God, but to his wife and those around him.
What looks like a negative reality on the surface is actually a great blessing in the long run. It is what Zechariah needed so he could get his life back on track.
Look at your life. Where have you reacted to negative experiences as punishments? How can we see them in a different light, the light that shines from above?
Advent is a time of reflection, pondering, quiet. Embrace moments of being speechless and let God reveal his plan in greater detail through the experiences of life, all of them not just the ones we like.