One of our game guides while we were in Kruger was named Shadrach. He was one of our favorites. He was engaging, fun, and was very experienced in guiding. He helped us to have some wonderful experiences while in Kruger. One phrase that he used really stuck with me. Whether he was talking about the fruit of a tree or an animal having a litter, he would not use the phrases that we often would like “giving birth” or “having a litter” or “producing fruit.” He instead would say that the “tree gave fruit” or the “mother would give 5 pups” or something like that. It was not industrial in any way, but instead felt like the experience of receiving something that was out of our control. The fruit was a gift of the tree. The babies were a gift from the mother. And so forth. I just loved that phrasing that Shadrach used over and over. He used that phrase as we came across a group of hyenas, in the midst of which were 3 beautiful relatively-new given pups. They were beautiful and it was a blessing to watch them tended to by their parents and periodically them going out just a little bit on their own.
As I read this chapter, I thought of that sense of “giving.” Zechariah and Elizabeth were long past believing that they could or would have a child. But then the miracle of John came along and they were given a child. They received a gift.
At the same time while I understand this, I also pray for those who struggle like Zechariah and Elizabeth did before John was given to them. But unlike this story, the gift of a child does not arrive in the end.