Advent Meditation: The Blessing of Believing – Betsy Childs Howard

Read

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! (Luke 1:45, NIV)

Reflect

When Gabriel told Mary she would conceive a son who would reign on David’s throne, she (understandably) asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34).

When the angel replied that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her so that her child would be the Son of God (Luke 1:35), this answered Mary’s question—she now knew she would not conceive in the ordinary way—but it raised a thousand others. Two millennia later, we are no closer to understand­ing the biology of the incarnation than Mary was that day in Nazareth!

How Christ’s conception and birth would take place weren’t the only unknowns for Mary. Surely her betrothed would abandon her when her pregnancy was discovered. How would she live and support her baby? How would an impov­erished boy from Nazareth rise to reign on David’s throne?

How would an impov­erished boy from Nazareth rise to reign on David’s throne?

Mary didn’t let all the unknowns prevent her from trust­ing the word the angel spoke to her that day. She didn’t have to understand to believe. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Mary didn’t have to see in her mind’s eye how God could work out his promises to believe that he would.

It’s easier to believe God’s promises when you think you understand how God is going to work them out. But when we can’t fathom how God will do something, we can believe it by faith. We can believe God will supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19) without having any idea how he’s going to meet our specific needs. We can believe God will help us endure and escape from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13) without knowing what the way of escape will be. We can believe one day God will bring full and complete justice (Ps. 37) even though we see the same injustices persist year after year.

But when we can’t fathom how God will do something, we can believe it by faith.

God knows the answers to all our questions, just as he knew the answers to Mary’s. He knew the Son of God would become man. That Joseph would be commanded in a dream to take Mary as his wife. That Mary’s son would grow in wis­dom and stature and favor with God and man. He knew Je­sus would break the power of sin and death, not by military might but by laying down his life for us and rising again to reign eternally. And he knows exactly how he will fulfill ev­ery promise he has made to you.

Respond

What promises has God made that you find hard to believe? Are you willing to believe them by faith, even if you don’t understand how God’s going to fulfill them?

Rejoice

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

– Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Read More

The Gospel Coalition