2010-12-09 - Doubt in the Face of the Divine
Matthew 1:18-19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (NASB)
First there was Zacharias who doubted the angel Gabriel's announcement that his wife would bear a son. Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth were "an old man and my wife is advanced in years" (Luke 1:18 NASB). Because of their age it is easy to see why he would have had doubts. In human terms what was being expressed as a promise to him would be impossible. When Gabriel stuck Zacharias mute it is hard to imagine that any of his doubts were not answered. When he was able to speak again he spoke the praises of God.
Second there was Mary. Her question was more uncertain. She wanted to know how it was possible for her to have a child when she had not done anything to conceive a child. Another reasonable doubt from a human perspective. Within the framework of human understanding this also was impossible. But Mary had not scoffed as Zacharias had. Her statement of submission strikes me in a powerful way every time I see. Her question answered, Mary's response was accepting and humble.
Third now is Joseph. When Mary came to Joseph he clearly did not believe her. He must have been heartbroken that Mary would have done such a thing when they were promised to each other. The fact that his plan was to divorce her quietly shows a protective heart toward her. If he had made a public statement of their divorce Mary quite likely would have been stoned to death. He loved her enough to protect her even in the face of what could only humanly understood as a betrayal. Then the Angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and assures him that Mary is telling the truth. When Joseph wakes up there is no doubt in his mind that Mary has been faithful as she claims. All his doubts were answered.
Zacharias is a Priest who servers in the God's Temple in Jerusalem. He studies what we know as what we know as the Old Testament routinely. And he is confronted by an angel face-to-face. His studies and profession coupled with a visit from Gabriel might have placed this into a different perspective. Mary had every reason to ask how it was possible for her to have a child when she was a virgin. Joseph had every reason to believe Mary had betrayed his love and trust when she was found to be expecting a child that could not have been his. All of these instances are true in the light of human understanding.
Then again is there anything impossible with God? The only thing that is impossible is for God to be untrue to His character. When we lose perspective of the facts that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, able to be every place and at every time all at once we lose sight of the lack of limitation of the Divine. When Jesus says to Jarius' daughter, "Little girl, I say to you get up", Jarius and his wife were given no time to doubt but were stuck with joy and wonder as their child who had been declared dead opened her eyes, got up and walked over to them. When He turns water into wine, opens the eyes of a blind man, heals a leper, feeds the 5000 with five loaves and two fishes, raises Lazarus after four days in the tomb, or reaches into the heart and mind of a man or woman who accept Him as Savior and Lord - these are beyond our ability, but not God's ability.
Mary and Joseph showed tremendous faith. Zacharias was gently rebuked but was restored. They all saw their situations in the light of divine power and wisdom. We need to be able to look toward the unhindered potential. There is nothing wrong with praying that the doctor or nurse will be given wisdom to help a sick friend or family member, but remember that the Lord does miracles today. Pray for healing too! Miracles happen everyday. Some are quiet and are easily missed. Some shout from the roof tops and still the world around us looks dumbfounded and does not see God's hand. There are times believers miss His hand as well. In James 4:2 we are told that we have not because we ask not. It seems that it should apply to better understanding as well.
Be deliberate about pushing beyond the envelope of what we know as limitations. God does not suffer from our weaknesses. Trust that He is able to do amazing things in us, around us and through us. Selah.
Grace & Peace,