Despite Disbelief

Following is a guest post from Karen Mason


Luke 1:18–25

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Zechariah did not believe the angel’s good news, just as Sarah laughed when she was told she would have a son, and as Thomas said, "Unless I see … I will not believe." Despite their disbelief, God accomplished his good purposes. Zechariah’s mutism is a sign that God is up to something earth-shattering which will fill all the neighbors with awe: not only the birth of a son to an aged, barren couple but more. Following his son’s birth, Zechariah praises God, because God "has come to his people and redeemed them" (Lk. 1:68). What will fill the world with awe in all these events is something even more improbable: the incarnation, God made flesh, dwelling with his people, taking away not only the shame of barrenness but the shame of sin, God redeeming a people for himself. The angel challenged disbelieving Sarah, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14). God does the impossible. Disbelief comes when we put God in a box and say, "He can do this, but not that" or "He hasn’t answered my prayer yet, so he must not be able to, or must not want to." Despite our own disbelief, God can and does break into our world.

About the author

Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.


  1. Thank you, Chris, for posting this! Oh, sounds like a rhyme, doesn’t it? 😉

    And thank you, Karen, for writing on challenging a disbelieving heart. Let me just tell you that your article has quasi unleashed hell. Yesterday in the late evening after having read your entry, the following few words remained, as it were, stuck in my mind: “God does the impossible.” I was wondering why I couldn’t get rid of them.

    I saw that you are an expert on issues regarding mental health. From hence, you certainly know people who are suffering from bipolar disorder.
    As for me, I have a friend who has been suffering from this disease – which is often accompanied by manic-depressive psychosis – for a long time now. Quite often, about once or twice a month, he has been on the edge, he was and is deeply depressed facing those constantly recurring suicidal thoughts. He is often desperately drowning in feelings of guilt, discerning “voices” accusing him that God would save and forgive everybody but him. I always try to encourage my dear friend but things are going really bad for him and I am finally at my wits’ end as to how I could really help him (except prayer, of course), and to convince him of the fact that he is completely forgiven by Jesus.
    Maybe I should add that my friend is on regular medication, but I am afraid his body chemistry has become used to those heavy doses over the years since the pills are no longer effective.

    Q: Do you have any idea what one could still do in such a case, Karen?

    God bless you,

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