I’ve been a Christian for a really long time. Yes, I was born into a Christian family, but I consciously prayed a prayer of salvation as a 3 year old and was baptized at 12…so, it’s been a few years.
Recently, though, I’ve found myself – for the first time in my life – questioning things of the Bible. Not that I don’t believe they are true, per se, but more that I want to believe them for reasons beyond just a cultural upbringing.
I was trying to think of a woman who questioned God in the Bible, and at first, all I could think of was Sarah, and I was not about to write about her and her laughter again. But, after some more deliberation, God brought to my mind a woman who instead is an example of great faith: Mary, the woman chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
While we regard Mary as a paragon of virtue (and for the most part, rightly so), Mary did ask questions. When the angel first appeared to her and said she would be the mother of the Son of God, she asked how that would be possible. When Jesus disappeared as a 12 year old in the temple, she asked Him why He’d made her worry. I’m sure she asked many more about this life and son she had been given but couldn’t possibly fully understand. But what I like about Mary is that her questions drove her closer to the Lord.
Several times throughout scripture, we are told that Mary “pondered all these things in her heart.” Pondering to me implies some questioning – some trying to figure things out. While we don’t have any elaboration, I think Mary was meditating on all of the things happening before her, wondering the meaning, perhaps even wondering if it was all true. Instead of getting frustrated with what she didn’t understand, though, Mary reflected on it, and worked through it with the only One who had the answers. At the same time, she reflected on God’s past goodness, knowing that His character never changes and His promises are always true (see Mary’s song in Luke 1).
What a great example to us of what to do when we have uncertainties about our lives and our faith. It is so easy to get bogged down in our present circumstances, asking all the “why”s and “how”s, even sometimes growing angry with God. But, if instead we reflect on who God is and what He has done for us in the past, and we spend time meditating on His Word, we’ll find that we come to know the Lord even better, and in that, our faith grows, even if we still don’t have all the answers. God welcomes our questions and doubts because if we turn to Him in them, He can really show off assuaging them.
My challenge to myself (and to all of you) is to do what Mary did and really “ponder” the things in the Bible that I don’t understand. I want to meditate more on the Word, rather than just read it through quickly as I often do, so that God has an opportunity to reveal some deeper truths as I wrestle through harder things. And, in the meantime, I want to choose to trust Him more by praising Him, no matter how many questions I still have unanswered.
What do you think of Mary’s example? Do you think her questions strengthened her faith, or just served to show its weakness? How do you do at “pondering” and working through the hard stuff? Let’s chat!