So many of us experience some form of belief amnesia during our lives. That happens after we’ve walked through an experience or circumstance that has tested our faith in God and shown Him to be real. We’ve celebrated God’s supernatural intervention and allowed the spiritual victory to become a mountain-peak moment in our faith journey. Yet inevitably time goes by, and life becomes controllable. We begin to skillfully manipulate our circumstances in order to construct imaginary cocoons of comfort and self-sufficiency. Those moments of utter dependence on God that we vowed to remember begin to fade. That is . . . until things crumble again. We cry out for rescue, and God saves us. Our faith is reinvigorated and we renew our vow never to forget His willingness to respond to our call for help. Have you lived in this cycle? Are you currently in a cloud of belief amnesia, or are you in the trench with your head down, hoping God will answer your cries?
Joseph and Mary Encounter Jesus
mary chooses joy
The Mother of Jesus certainly had reason to rejoice. God sent an angel to tell her that she was favored by God and would bear a son who would be Israel’s promised king (Luke 1:30, 32). She was blessed by a Spirit-filled woman (Elizabeth) who was herself supernaturally bearing a child (John the Baptist) who would be the forerunner to announce the advent of the Messiah’s kingdom.
But let us not forget that Mary nearly lost her husband, who hoped to preserve her life by divorcing her quietly (Matthew 1:19). He must have been brokenhearted to discover that she was pregnant with what he thought was another’s child. Mary also endured the hardships of pregnancy, as well as the added murmurings about her character from within her community. To minimize the perceived scandal, Joseph violated custom and took her into his home before the betrothal period had finished (Matthew 1:24–25).18 It is not hard to imagine how easy it would’ve been for Mary to retreat from the long stares and the marketplace gossip by building a wall of self-protection. Instead of praising God in the difficulty of her situation, how natural it would have been to harbor annoyance at God for not giving her an easier path.
What is your attitude toward God when circumstances out of your control seem to conspire against you? When is it easiest for you to forget the words of God through the prophet Jeremiah: “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NET)?
mary treasures and ponders
Mary delivered Jesus in a humble cave. She rested as he lay in a nearby manger. Meanwhile, in the fields close by, angels were putting on a show in the sky as they worshipped God and proclaimed the news of the Savior’s birth. Awestruck shepherds witnessed this glorious display and left their flocks to find the newborn King. They, along with the Magi from the east who had followed a star to Bethlehem, found the new family and shared all they had heard and seen. And in Luke 2:19, the author gives us a unique look into Mary, where we find a key to combating belief amnesia. Mary “treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean” (NET).
In the simple English translation of “treasured,” we miss meaning that is expanded in the original Greek. Luke uses a word meaning, “to store information in one’s mind for careful consideration, hold or treasure up (in one’s memory).” Mary took it all in—the experiences and testimonies surrounding her son’s birth—and stored them away in her memory, not to collect dust on the shelf of her mind but for future contemplation of their significance. She would not let this moment slip by.
Furthermore, Luke writes that Mary not only engaged her mind, but she was “pondering in her heart” all that she was seeing and hearing concerning the miraculous events surrounding her special little boy. Luke uses a word for “pondering” that means “to give careful thought to.” In other words, she was determined to put it all together in her heart. She would not be a passive recipient to all that was happening as she encountered the Christchild. She embraced it with her heart and engaged it with her mind, and kept it close by so she could continually dwell on the significance of it all.
This season, how can you follow Mary’s example and engage with our Savior in a fresh way, both with your heart and mind?
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