Wonder: Nothing is Impossible

There are certain words, I think, that shut our ears as soon as we hear them. Nothing. Everything. Always. Never.

These are closed words. Thick with a certainty that doesn’t exist in our world of muddled questions. There are too many what ifs, and how abouts, and except for the time that circumstances to take these words seriously.

But yet there are times we are asked to stop listen to these words that make us want to walk away. That happens in the Christmas story.

When the angel talks to Mary, and ends his proclamation with a statement. A statement with the kind of emphatic phrasing in Greek that shows it holds weight and power over the entire discussion.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37

Nothing.

No exceptions. No limitations. No gray area.

Nothing is impossible with God.

These words are meant to bring hope to Mary at a time she is called to have faith. For her, I’m sure they did.

For us, I wonder if they have more hurtful than hopeful.

Like the times we have been called to pray harder for our sick loved one because our nothing-is-impossible-God can heal him, but then death comes instead of restoration. Or the times we have been told to take a step of faith because our nothing-is-impossible-God can show us the way, but then we stumble and trip on a path that feels dark.

Nothing is impossible with God. But that doesn’t mean God always does the impossible.

Too often, we try to push and squeeze verses like these into our own little life stories. But it is precisely then that these thick, closed, definite words don’t fit. They are too big. They push themselves out of our finite skin and hurt us as they make their escape.

So, what if we changed what we did with verses like this.

What if we didn’t pull this nothing-is-impossible verse from the Bible, and shove it into the story our lives? What if instead we let this verse rest in its context, and draw us into the story of God?

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” – Luke 1:30b

Our perfect and holy and powerful and amazing God bestows His grace and favor on imperfect and flawed and weak and ordinary people. We are able to know God and to be known by Him because He chose for it to be that way.

For nothing is impossible with God.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” –Luke 1:31-32a

Jesus, “Yahweh saves,” is both the son of Mary and the Son of the Most High. Fully human and fully God. Because that’s what was needed for salvation to occur. God in the flesh. The infinite wrapped up in the finite.

For nothing is impossible with God.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon 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.” – Luke 1:35

A child growing within a virgin womb is a miracle. But a holy Savior was required, which means a birth unlike any other was necessary. And so the God who wrote the laws of nature chose to subvert them.

For nothing is impossible with God.

If God is really God, this is perhaps one of the most important characteristics about Him for us to believe. That a God who created our universe should be able to do anything he pleases within it.

That thought could perhaps be frightening if we believed God to be aloof or harsh or arrogant.

But that’s when Luke 1:37 really brings us comfort. Not when we see how it applies to our life, but when we see how it applies to our God.

God chose to break the laws of nature not to show off his power or rain down his anger but to demonstrate His love.

For nothing is impossible with God.

 

 Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.

How do I respond?

Bleh. This is the seventh week of my Walk Through the Psalms series, and all I can think when I read Psalm 7 is

Bleh.

David is in trouble. Again. He asks God to bring justice to his enemies. Again.

Where are the psalms about deer and water and beauty? I know they are in this book somewhere. All these psalms about evil and vengeance and justice are making my eyes gloss over.

How did David get himself into so much trouble? I mean, seriously, did he ever get to sit on his throne? So far, the Psalms make it look like he spent all his time running and hiding and suffering.

I can’t stay here in this “bleh.”

For one, because that can’t be the content of a blog post. But, even more importantly, because that can’t be the content of my heart.

The Bible can be difficult to read. It is written by ancient people. There are culture and language differences to muddle through. But still, it is written for us. There is a purpose to Psalm 7, just as there is a purpose to every Psalm in this book.

The Psalms is a collection of prayers. It is a book that shows us something about the human experience. And what it looks like to connect that experience with our powerful and loving God.

And, so, though I see a consistency in David being in trouble that makes me want to skip to the next Psalm, I also see consistency in David’s response to trouble that causes me to pause.

He does not throw a pity party. He does not turn to his military strength. He does not turn to his wealth. He does not turn to his own strategies.

He turns to God.

In just this one psalm, Psalm 7, David calls to God again and again and again,

“O Lord my God, O Lord my God, O Lord, my God, O Lord, O Most High, O righteous God.”

And again and again, David lays his heart before God. He boldly makes requests, according to his need and according to God’s character,

“Save and deliver me, decree justice, judge the peoples, bring to an end the violence of the wicked, and make the righteous secure.”

And again and again, even before those requests are answered, David affirms

I take refuge in you, my shield is God Most High, I will give thanks to the Lord, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”

These psalms make me wonder about my response to trouble.

Sure, I pray about it. But is that the first thing I do? And is it the thing I do most relentlessly?

Probably not.

I whine. I ask for help. I cry “poor me.” I avoid. I strategize. I change course. And maybe just throw in a prayer or two for good measure.

And even when I do pray, am I as secure in God’s character as David is?

Do I, before my prayer is answered, give thanks to the Lord? Do I affirm that He is good, even if things are not done in my way or in my timing?

Probably not.

So maybe there is a reason for all these psalms that turn to God in times of trouble. Maybe it gives me practice. Maybe I can only pray this way, truly pray this way, when big trouble strikes, if it is a habit. If it is something I have read, over and over again. If it is something I have prayed for others, over and over again. If it is something I have done for the small hardships of my life, over and over again.

Maybe then, when I have made it a practice to repeatedly turn to God, repeatedly pour out my requests, and repeatedly affirm His character before those requests are answered, maybe then, when the big troubles come to my life, I will be able to affirm, with David,

“O Lord my God, I take refuge in you.”- Psalm 7:1

How do you respond when trouble comes? Are you able to pray like David?