The world is filled with impossibilities.
Peace between neighbors. A cure for a chronic illness. Trying to get parking at the mall the Saturday before Christmas.
Don’t even get me started on getting our preschooler from the house to the car in less than eighteen minutes.
Yet God traffics in the mysterious, the difficult, the impossible. (He also traffics in the mundane and the holy ordinary, but more on that tomorrow.)
When we are faced with something that seems beyond hope, God loves to step in and say, “Watch. Watch what I can do. Watch what I will do, because of my great love for you.”
Take Mary, for instance. Young, unmarried, likely poor, almost certainly uneducated.
An angel shows up, proclaiming impossible news, and Mary asks the obvious question.
Luke 1:28-38 (NIV)
The angel went to Mary and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
Maybe you’ve asked God this question yourself. Not about being a pregnant virgin–that was a one time deal–but about another seeming impossibility you face.
Another year of singleness, trying to follow God’s call to chastity.
Another year of infertility, praying with aching longing for a child.
Another year of chronic illness, or trying to finish that graduate degree, or working a job you hate, or struggling in a difficult marriage. Another year working to make ends meet, downsizing, waiting for the kids to call, fighting for hope in the midst of gathering darkness.
You may listen to God’s call in Scripture to rejoice always, to pray continually, to never lose heart, and think: how on earth am I supposed to do that?
How will this be?
The angel gives Mary an answer.
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
We simply can’t carry on in the midst of back-breaking difficulty on our own. We weren’t created to. We aren’t equipped to.
Which is why God came down to us in the person of Jesus and said, “I will be with you.”
As the angel tells Mary, when we let God in, the Holy Spirit comes upon us. And no word from God will ever fail.
In your painful waiting this season, as you face an impossibility (or two or three), spend a few moments with Mary and Gabriel, letting them remind you that the impossible is no more.
How can this be?
Only because of Jesus.