The hard stuff of life will either make you bitter or blessed; it will either do you good or do you bad. The key thing in all this is how you (and me) respond to the hard stuff.
Zechariah was struck dumb in Luke 1 on account of him failing to believe what Gabriel said to him. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:20.) It seems from the sign making in v62 that he was also left deaf through the judgment.
Now Zechariah was a priest and an essential part of his calling was to speak. It must have been so hard for him to endure those nine months of enforced silence. Effectively he was indisposed from his duties; his whole identity was being messed up.
Moreover, he could have legitimately argued that it was all a bit of an overreaction by God to take away his speech. After all he had only had a question about how it was all going to happen; that is how Elizabeth would have a baby.
Notwithstanding the pain of the experience and the apparent harshness of the way of God Zechariah was a man who consecrated all of this hard experience to God for good.
It is in this context we read the beautiful words And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God (v64). The experience that Zechariah had been through was consecrated unto blessing. His mouth proved it. He knew the good workings of the Lord, he could see such was the case with his happy wife and beautiful baby in front of his eyes. But more than that he knew all was in the purpose of God. It is this latter appreciation which made him joy in God as was proven in his song of vv67-79
Here are striking things for ourselves. In the hard circumstances of life we will be saved from bitterness of soul when we realise that God has purpose in our sufferings. We may not full understand, but we can believe that He has good purposes.
Zechariah went into his dumbness not believing; he came out of it full of faith. May we come out of all our hard situations of life full of faith.
And finally just to note that hard stuff never leaves us neutral. It will always change us. and that can be for bad or for good, Are your trials making you bitter or better?