December 19, 2015

Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

The Japanese for this verse brings out two nuances that are missing from the English, or the NIV at least. The first (going from the word order in the English) is the degree of blessing; it is literally, “How blessed!” We really don’t know the magnitude of the blessings we receive by faith, and probably won’t really grasp them until we look back from before the Throne to praise God for all He has done for us. The second nuance is the degree of faith. The expression in the Japanese indicates a fully settled and completed matter, and is used for such things as when you have used something up completely. Mary held nothing back in her faith, even though at this point she probably had no objective physical indication of her pregnancy. This degree of faith really is a gift from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9) but it is more available than most of us realize. Faith is ultimately a choice; we choose to believe. If that were not the case, then unbelievers would have no responsibility for their lack of faith. The more faith is exercised, in little details as well as big ones, the stronger it gets, and as this verse indicates the blessings are limitless. So, what about situations where what we believed for didn’t happen? We are very prone to decide what God should do, instead of asking Him what we should do, in genuine humility. God is under no obligation to fulfill our wish lists! Recently I’ve run into the phrase, “unintended consequences,” several times in relation to the situation in the Middle East. That’s an appropriate phrase for every area of life, actually. We don’t know what will happen down the line if a particular thing happens (or doesn’t happen) right now. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide our prayers (Romans 8:26) so that we ask for, and receive, God’s best for us. Mary actually didn’t ask for her pregnancy, but when God said it was hers, she received it, and what a huge thing it was. It included incredible heartache and difficulty, but those were far outweighed by the blessings, for her and for all humanity.

I’ve prayed for enough things over the years to be able to look back and be thankful many of them weren’t granted! Rather than trying to work up faith for a wish list, I need to be quiet enough before God to hear what He is saying to me, and then be absolutely sure that everything He has said is going to be as He has said it. I’ll never forget the time, quite a few years ago, now, that I was lying in bed, not consciously praying, but thinking, “There are so many things I wish were different.” To my great surprise, the Lord spoke to me, in one of only two times (so far) I have heard Him so clearly, and He said, “How do you think I feel?” That certainly put a new perspective on things, and I must not forget it. We live in a fallen world, and until the Lord makes all things new, (Revelation 21:5) stuff is going to happen that is far from optimal. I need to trust Him to bring blessing even out of those less-than-optimal things, (Romans 8:28) and walk in His peace that passes human understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Father, You’ve been taking us through a training course in this, and there’s more to come. Thank You. Help me not miss the blessings You have for me, and for those around me, by insisting in my own heart how things are supposed to be. Help me indeed pray as Jesus taught us with my whole heart, that Your kingdom would come through Your will being done perfectly, whatever that means, especially when I have no idea what it means. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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