The Bible is full of all kinds of promises for believers. And as soon as I became convinced that the Bible is completely true, I immediately bought into all those promises. Never again did I struggle with believing things that were untrue. Not once since I was 16 years old have I lost track of who I am in Christ or how God delights in me or the fact that God has great plans for me and will bring those plans to pass.
I hope you’re hearing the sarcasm.
On the contrary, learning what the Bible says takes time. I didn’t “get saved” and immediately gain the knowledge of the Bible. Little by little, sermons and small group studies and personal studies and conversations with other believers and truth-laden Christian lyrics add up.
And now that I have 12 years of biblical knowledge in my head, everything is butterflies and sunshine.
Well, maybe not everything.
I still have this problem that I forget a lot of what I’ve learned over the years. I graduated with a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology almost 6 years ago. And I’ve probably forgotten 90% of what I learned. Hence the need for continuing to attend church and study on my own.
But what I haven’t forgotten about the Bible, that’s the stuff that I totally believe, understand, and apply each and every day of my life.
There’s that sarcasm again.
Even the stuff I know I often struggle believing.
It’s hard to live like I believe “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I lose track of promises like that when life happens. Stress and turmoil set in, and I start living out of “Why is this happening?” instead of living out of “I believe in You, Lord.”
Jesus’ mom was strikingly different than me in this regard.
She was probably younger than 16 when an angel appeared to her and told her she was going to be impregnated supernaturally with a son who would save the entire world from their sins. Talk about a lot to take in.
Don’t get me wrong, Mary was freaked out. To be more accurate, she was “greatly troubled”, confused and fearful (Luke 1:29-30). But instead of letting these emotions drive her into a frenzy, here is how she responded to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 2:38).
WHAT IN THE WORLD?!
How was Mary able to respond so courageously? How was this preteen able to keep her wits about her? How was she able to respond with “My soul glorifies the Lord…the Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 2:46, 49)? Her life had just been turned upside down! Her engagement was at risk. Her safety was at risk. Her future was at risk. And she praised God?
I don’t have an answer for how she was able to do that. Maybe she was empowered by the Holy Spirit to respond uprightly to the angel’s decree. However it happened, she was strong enough in her faith in God’s goodness and power that she was able to choose to believe Him despite her fear and confusion.
When Mary went to visit her relative, Elizabeth, God confirmed to Mary that everything the angel had said was trustworthy. The angel had told Mary that old, barren Elizabeth was pregnant, and that turned out to be true. And before Mary ever told Elizabeth about her own encounter with the angel, Elizabeth expressed that she already knew Mary would be the mother of the Lord (Luke 2:43).
But the best part of the account of Mary and Elizabeth’s visit in my mind is the last verse. Luke 2:45 reads, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
I WANT THAT BLESSING!
Just like Mary, you and I will be blessed by believing that what the Lord has said in scripture will be accomplished. He does know the plans He has for us; He will finish the good work He has begun in us; He does delight in us; He is with us always.
We may not be experiencing personal revelations from angels, but the promises in the Bible are promises for us, and blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!
This truly is the battle in all our lives. Even a luminary like John the Baptist struggled with doubt despite seeing all that God did at Jesus’ baptism and through Jesus’ subsequent ministry. You are right on the mark about how hard it is to believe and apply God’s promises to us. May we all become more like Mary and experience the blessing.