Blessed is she who has believed that
what the Lord said to her will be accomplished.
Mary believed. God sent the angel Gabriel to tell her that God wanted to do something astonishing through her. Gabriel told her, that if she consented, she would become pregnant and give birth to a child who would be the long awaited Messiah. It was a lot to believe. But Mary believed that what God said, God would do.
But what does it mean that Mary believed? Does it mean she never questioned what she heard? Does it mean she never lost sleep because of an anxious heart that would not be calm? Or was her believing like other human believing—a struggle, a conflict, a turning again and again to God for help?
Often we sabotage our already fragile capacity to believe with unrealistic expectations that believing should come easy. And that it should stay constant. We give in to self incriminating messages that we are spiritual failures if our believing is a struggle.
We have trouble seeing that the growth of faith is like the growth of any living reality. It is growth against great odds. It is growth that requires patience over time. Our faith is like a sprouting seedling that is quietly pushing its way up through heavy top soil, even as it slowly sinks roots down deep into nourishing under soil.
Surely a part of the dynamic of Mary’s believing was the struggle to let the seedling of faith grow in her. Like us, she had to allow her faith time to grow toward a light she could not yet see, while working through the heavy top soil of so many unknowns and questions. Like us, she had to nurture her faith by allowing it to sink roots down deep into the nourishing soil of God—into God who is love, God who is faithful, God who is trustworthy. Perhaps this is how Mary grew in her belief that what God said, God would do.
Advent is a time to patiently nurture the seedling of our faith. It is a time to sink our roots deeply into the soil of God’s love and faithfulness.
God has promised to create new life in us. And what God promises, God will do.
Help me to be patient
in the struggle to believe
that you are loving and faithful.
Don’t let me become discouraged
by the lie that believing should come easy.
The top soil that the seedling of my faith
pushes against is hardened soil.
Help me persist in sinking new roots
into the rich soil
of your faithfulness and love,
so the seedling of faith you have planted in me
can grow strong
as I remember again and again who you are.