At the End of Their Rope

Stan Mast

READ : Luke 1:1-7

But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. (v. 7 NIV)

At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel of certainty (v. 4), we meet a couple who were certain of one thing. As a minister friend put it, they were sad members of the “and never will” club. Zechariah and Elizabeth had not been able to have children, and now, given their physical condition and age, they never will. They were at the end of their rope.

These were good people, part of the covenant people of God from the priestly branch of the family tree. And they were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations” (v. 6 NIV). But, says verse 7 in a sad reversal of the Good News we noted yesterday, they had no children. And they never will. Elizabeth, particularly, is filled with disgrace (v. 25).

You can believe with all your heart, but that won’t change reality. There is no possibility of a child for this permanently childless couple. That’s a fact of life. Biology is biology. Even God couldn’t do anything for this couple at the end of their rope. Gone is their expectation of the Lord.

Except for that business of their family tree. That covenant line stretched all the way back to Sarah, and Hannah, and Israel itself. Throughout that covenant history, God’s people were often at the end of their rope—“but God. . . .”


Lord, use this story to refresh my hope at the end of my rope. Amen.