Where are we going with our doubt?
Next month, the Church will celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. There is great wisdom for us here in the story of his birth. Let’s review the story before we unpack the wisdom.
John the Baptist's father was Zechariah. Zechariah was a holy and high ranking priest at the Temple in Jerusalem. John the Baptist's mother was Elizabeth. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the eyes of GOD”. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “advanced in years and had no children.”
One day, when Zechariah “was serving as priest in his division’s turn before GOD”, “he entered the sanctuary of the LORD to burn incense” so that he might pray on behalf of all of the people of Israel. While he we was praying “the angel of the LORD appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.’”
Here's the story in a nutshell. Zechariah and Elizabeth are old ... and they have no children. Elizabeth is past her child-bearing years, and their desire for children has been replaced with the grief that they shall never have their own. When the angel appears to Zechariah proclaiming that he will indeed have a son, Zechariah doubts that this could happen. Zechariah doubts GOD’s power; Zechariah doubts GOD’s presence in his own life. Of course, Zechariah later assents ... Elizabeth indeed gives birth ... and Zechariah names him John as the angel proclaims.
Many of us have doubt. Perhaps we doubt our lives will really change. Perhaps we doubt whether we can really stop our pattern of sin. Perhaps we doubt that our marriages, or families, or finances, or nation, or parishes will really change. We may even doubt whether the triumphant GOD is really active in our lives. Doubt is a part of life. The question is this: where do we take the doubt? Do we take our doubt to the LORD (as Mary did in the Annunciation) or do we ruminate in the doubt, mulling it over in our mind (as Zechariah did)?
Where do we take the doubt? Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in years. There is no biological way they should have been able to conceive children. Zechariah's doubt is well-founded. However, Zechariah is invited to relate his doubt ― to take his doubt to the LORD.
Where do you most need GOD? Where are you doubting? Now ... ask yourself this: where are going with the doubt? Talk to the LORD about your heart, your desires, and your doubt.
+ LORD, when I am doubting, give me the grace to look at You and relate my doubt. Increase my trust in You, who love me in my doubt. Amen.