Do you suffer the burden of faith?
You seek to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church even though many others, especially those in our own family, harbor doubts about God’s providence and goodness. You suffer under the burden of what you know is true yet cannot see.
If this is you, I would like to introduce you to someone who may help you. Her name is St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist.
There is little written about her life outside the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Yet, in what we know about the time she lived, who she lived with and what happened to her, we discover much about St. Elizabeth. We know:
- She is a first century Jew living in a hill country town of Judah.
- She is married to a Jewish priest, named Zechariah.
- She is an ancestor of Aaron, a priest and the brother of Moses.
- She is considered righteous in God’s eyes, which means faithful to his commandments.
- She is elderly and childless.
Trials of Faith
Knowing that in Elizabeth’s culture, a barren woman was considered sinful or cursed, we can see that this woman had to have suffered trials of sorrow, embarrassment, and condemnation for most of her adult life. Being from a priestly class and married to a priest, she must have been well versed in Scripture and in the promises God made to her people. Yet for the majority of her years, she did not witness evidence of their fulfillment.
We learn that Zechariah, while performing his priestly service in the Lord’s sanctuary, is visited by the Archangel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:8). When Gabriel tells him that his wife will bear him a son in answer to his prayer, he does not believe. Zechariah had been praying for a child. An angel tells him his prayer is being answered. Zechariah doubts. Yet, we also know from Luke’s Gospel that he remained faithful to his duty as priest and, along with Elizabeth, is considered righteous in God’s eyes (cf. Luke 1:6).
It seems then, that it was Elizabeth’s faith in trial that upheld the righteousness of this pair. Elizabeth carried the burden of faith for them both.
Faith, as defined in the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1, is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.
When God’s promise of a child is fulfilled despite her husband’s doubts, Elizabeth’s faith meets the hope she has long carried, exclaiming, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others” (Luke 1:25).
Blessings from Perseverance
We can look at the life of St. Elizabeth and see many blessings that come from perseverance in faith:
- Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to proclaim God, as when she is greeted by Mary (cf. Luke 1:43-45).
- Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to stand firm, as when she defies her neighbors and relatives; insisting her son be named John as the angel had told her husband (cf. Luke 1:60).
- Elizabeth’s faith works to heal her husband’s doubts and deafness (cf. Luke 1:63-64).
- Elizabeth’s faith raises her son “strong in spirit” for God’s mission (cf. Luke 1:80).
- And, Elizabeth’s faith inspires Mary to proclaim her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56).
Encouragement In Persevering
I wonder if, when Mary goes in haste to her cousin, it was also in God’s design that Elizabeth help her. I wonder if God entrusted the Mother of God to this woman of steadfast faith to be an encouragement to Mary, who will soon be enduring her own trials of faith.
It is truly difficult to carry the burden of faith for others in our life who doubt God’s goodness. It is very hard when we face trials that tempt us to doubt that God sees us, that he knows our suffering.
Let the witness of St. Elizabeth console you that God does see you! And God is counting on your faith in him to help carry out his plan of salvation in you, and through you, for others.
When the burden of faith becomes too hard to carry, we can find hope through our trials by seeking the companionship of other followers of God; be it our friends in Heaven or those working out our salvation here on earth. Pilgrim Center of Hope is here to accompany you. Our website includes the Port of Hope to help weary wayfarers find spiritual rest, inspiration, and encouragement in Jesus Christ and the Church.
We also invite you to save the date on your calendar for our annual Catholic Women’s Conference (10/30-31/2020) and the Catholic Men’s Conference (2/27/2021). Both events are ideal places to find sources of encouragement in faith as we encounter Christ with our sisters and brothers in fellowship and worship.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.