by Julie Zine Coleman
She was an ordinary girl, living in an ordinary town called Nazareth. Arrangements had been made for her to marry a good man named Joseph, who earlier had met with her father to make a legal agreement for their betrothal.
But then the extraordinary happened.
The angel Gabriel appeared and told her she had found favor with God; she would conceive and bear a son. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David…His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32, 33 NASB).
As you can imagine, Mary had questions. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asked (v. 34).
In his first chapter, Luke places Mary’s interaction with Gabriel up against the priest Zacharias, who also received an announcement from the angel. Zacharias’ wife, Elizabeth, well past childbearing years, would bear a son. Zacharias’s response to the unexpected announcement was incredulous: “How will I know this for certain?” (Luke 1:18 NASB). The original Greek reads, According to whom?
I can almost imagine Gabriel rolling his eyes. He informed Zacharias he had just come from the throne of God. That’s Who. And then told him of the consequence he would experience “because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time’” (Luke 1:20 NASB).
Have you ever wondered why the angel rebuked Zacharias for asking a question but not Mary?
Mary’s question was very different than Zacharias’s. She seemed to be looking for clarification on what she should do next. How would all this work? She was a virgin, after all. Was she to marry Joseph right away? We can tell that she asked in faith, because her ready response to the angel’s reply to her question was “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NASB).
Two announcements, two reactions. The difference between them? Faith. One trusted in the power of God. Mary placed herself in God’s hands after believing His message, trusting Him to work out the details.
We all have questions for God from time to time. Sometimes our questions are filled with pain or even anger. There is so much we don’t understand. But Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith, it is impossible to please [God]” (NASB).
So how we ask those questions is important to Him. We need to ask from the context of what we know to be true of God. He is wise and powerful. He sees the big picture when we cannot. He is at work everywhere at once to bring His plans into completion. He is good. He cares deeply for us and the things that matter to us.
Remembering that context will enable us to ask in faith. Hearing and understanding His Word will keep our hearts from becoming hardened. This will bring us peace, as we submit ourselves to His will even when we don’t understand.
Upon hearing Mary’s faith-filled question, Gabriel encouraged her: “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 NASB). And, as Hebrews 11:6 says further, “For he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (NASB).
Faith makes all the difference.
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:11 NASB
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Julie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.
Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was recently named the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year.
Join the conversation: What traits of God do you want to remember when you ask Him questions?